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What's a 'Stack Overflow'?

What is a ‘stack overflow’? I keep getting stack overflow
warnings after installing new 2006 version of Norton Internet Security. I had
no such problems before. Should I go back to my 2005 problem-free version of
Norton?

I’ve now received a couple of reports of stack overflow problems after
people have upgraded to Norton Internet Security 2006. Here’s what I know so
far.

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One reader ran into this problem after upgrading Norton Internet Security to
the 2006 version. After a lot of effort and patience on his part,
apparently Symantec admitted there was an issue, and advised him to revert to
the 2005 version until the issue was addressed.

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to confirm any of this independently – I
don’t doubt my reader at all, but I do like to independently corroborate if at
all possible. Unfortunately I’ve found nothing on the Symantec website.
Yet.

I’m hopeful that it will eventually be addressed there. Keep track of the
comments to this article as readers report in, and I’ll also update it as soon
as I find out anything.

As to your original question, “what’s a stack overflow?” – well, for a
simple phrase, it’s a fairly deeply technical answer. It has to do with how the
computer itself manages data, and how the programs running on it utilize
it.

Conceptually, a stack is just that … a stack of information. You can put
things on the stack, and take things off of the stack. It sounds kinda useless,
but you’ll have to trust me that it’s fundamental and incredibly useful on
microprocessors.

Each program running has it’s own stack somewhere in the computer’s memory.
But because there’s so much else going on in memory, each stack is only
allocated so much room. Hopefully each program will a) allocate enough room to
begin with, and b) not have a bug that would cause it to keep putting things
onto the stack without taking them off. If you put too much on the stack … it
overflows. What happens when you overflow a stack varies based on how the
software is written.

What causes a stack overflow? Again, it varies a lot. It all depends on how
the software in question was written. Ultimately, any stack overflow that you
see is a bug, somewhere.

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42 comments on “What's a 'Stack Overflow'?”

  1. The first week after installing Norton Internet Security 2006, i spent over 20 hours on phone with symantec tech support, doing everything they recommended, what a waste of time. I went back to the 2005 version. Was glad to hear I’m not the only one with these problems! Norton would not admit there was anything wrong with the 2006. Thank you for the reply, Leo!

    Reply
  2. Hi,
    I have the same problem after upgrading Norton Internet Security from 2005 to the 2006 version. Disabling Antivirus Auto-Protect does not help. Disabling all Norton Internet Security solves the problem temporary. I would appreciate an e-mail from You if You find a solution. Regards Jiri.

    Reply
  3. I was very interested to hear of the possibility (or surety) that the fault lies with Symantec. A web application that I wrote, as part of a team of developers, exhibits the ‘stack overflow’ error intermittantly when run on Internet Explorer 6. It does not exhibit any error on Firefox 1+ and Opera 8.5+. I could not reproduce the error on my machine (Win XP SP2 up-to-date) after I had refreshed the page a few times.

    To avoid a memory leak in IE 6 (and below), the application uses an array to concatenate many strings. This is probably the trigger for the bug, but the weakness should not exist in IE, and is only present on some, not all, installations of IE. I would be interested to hear of options to encourage Symantec to fix the problem quickly.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    – Chris B.

    Reply
  4. Very glad to see these comments. I have just installed NIS 2006 and now my computer hangs trying to go into power save mode. It is also incredibly slow with 720mb of RAM and the parental control list continues to run even after being disabled?? I look forward to Symantec coming up with a fix and for now will try to revert to 2005.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  5. After upgrading Norton 2005 to 2006, we lost all ability to send or receive email. We also lost connection to the internet. If we turned Norton off, we would be able to operate normally. We are now preparing to call Symantec.

    Reply
  6. I installed Norton Security 2006 and within about a week I began having overflow stack problems when using IE. I’m now using Firefox and don’t seem to be having the problem. I’m hoping I can find a solution via Symantec.

    Reply
  7. like Ellen dated jan 23 2006 After upgrading to 2006, I lost all ability to send or receive email. We also lost connection to the internet. it appeared that when Symantec sends out a virus alert my internet default settings are changed and all traffic is sent to a proxy server (which is not set up and whereabouts unknown info obtained fron XP error log)unable to find the proxy server all attempts to access the internet returns a error 404 message. the only way around this (to a laymam) was to disable Nortons. i then Emailed Symantec (to email address supplied with purchase0 with the problem and asked how to fix it.(note i purchased the complete Norton 2006 package to save guard me against spam mail and and pop up as well as virus protection) the reply i got knocked me to the floor, the reply i got was in part quote “NOTE: Due to a high volume of various non-business related and unsolicited messages, emails sent to symanteccs@digitalriver.com will no longer be reviewed by our Customer Support Team.” part quote end. hey isn’t that what i had spent $100+ on the upgrade to the full program for,

    Reply
  8. I am a part of a development team for a fairly big web enabled application, and we have been struggeling to combat this issue for months. Our problem is that when we demo our software to clients using IE, it pops up with the stack overflow error. I have been reading all sorts of forum threads and tried all sorts of solutions including the and wrapping a sacrificial javascript block inside both IE conditional comments and CDATA blocks. I’ve just run out of ideas!

    Reply
  9. I’m loading XML using AJAX the team I am working with made a 60 line XML file trying to parse that causes a stack overflow on a new machine. Based on this blog if someone was also running any software made by norton virus software they would experience stack over flows when parsing a 60 line XML file. I’ll work on getting the line numbers down and remind people not to install Norton virus.

    http://www.jeffjoneslive.com

    Reply
  10. I did not experience a stack overflow problem until I went from aol dial-up to dsl with my phone company this week. Now when I try to use AIM, I get the overstack messages. I am very confused:0

    Reply
  11. I see many others are having problems with Norton, While my problems started when I upgraded to CA Internet Security Suite. Stack overflow,web pages failing to load and certain flash programs not loading. Is anyone else aware of the issues in CA?

    Reply
  12. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    I’ve never actually been a fan of “Suites”. Yours is the second complaint I’ve
    heard on CA’s, and I hear that many people have problems with Norton’s.

    I use CA’s anti-virus package, Microsoft’s Defender for spyware, and my router
    as a firewall. No suite involved. While the packages might differ based on
    taste or need, it’s this “a la carte” approach that I recommend.

    Leo
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGL7T/CMEe9B/8oqERAtIPAJ4rXleV4xCUa4TpcCvLIhRypKeRwgCdF5To
    x9Bpw5ymBS2MQy8vGIIjbO4=
    =SqEE
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  13. I have the Norton Systemworks 2003 (EN) program and I am having “Stack Overflow” problems. My
    carrier Toast.Net advised me to lower my security
    screening which I did to no avail. Any other
    recommeded solutions?

    Reply
  14. Hi. I just copied a free scrolling text applet from one site on the web called JPowered. I incorporated the applet on our website and now for some reason, everytime I would load up the website using Internet Explorer, it gives me the following error:

    “stack overflow on line 2”.

    What does this mean and how can I fix it? Help!

    Reply
  15. I just ran into this error while adding rollover images to a web page. I located the source of the problem being in the Java Script for the rollovers, though it’s not exactly the Java Script because the same rollover images and Java Script work fine on other web pages that I made (in IE). So I’m now looking at my script closer to see if I missed something. I’m guessing it’s something as simple as a piece of script that needs to be rewritten, or moved. If I fix it, I’ll post again explaining what it was.

    Reply
  16. Yeahhhhhhh I fixed it! It was just a matter of moving the Java Script and placing in somewhere else! On all browsers, you can put the Java Script just about anywhere on a page or on just about any page that affects the files you want to be affected within it’s subdirectory. However IE is being a pain and will only let the java script appear in one place for it to work. So you just have to go through all the pages and all the scripts in you subdirectory till you find the right place for it. For me I only had 4 pages of script to go through and took me about 1 to 2 hours! I hope this helps for those of you still trying to fix your problems.

    Reply
  17. I am getting a stack overflow error: line 34
    What is line 34 associated with, and how do I fix it? This happened when I was streamlining IE (7.0) a few days ago. It happens each time open up IE.

    Thanks Greg

    Reply
  18. My CEO is getting “Stack Overflow on line 78” when he opens or refreshes the main page of the USA Today website. Unfortunately, I cannot duplicate the error on any other machine, including his laptop. All of our desktops use the same applications. Any idea’s on where to start looking would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, Mike

    Reply
  19. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    My first guess would be spyware or other malware. Make sure
    to run up-to-date anti-spyware and anti-virus scans.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFHpMc9CMEe9B/8oqERAqpuAJwIIPJVWccy9x06+8ofaw8sHpccTACcC4OD
    6buBy92r9jJkQafR+dOORyI=
    =R0kX
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  20. We are having the same problem on the USA Today page but our error is line 94. Bizarre. If I discover anything, I’ll come back and post what I found.

    Reply
  21. Norton Internet Security, or any other program Norton offers is bogware. Get rid of it if you want a smooth operating machine.

    Reply
  22. When on Explorer 7.0, I keep getting stack overflow @ 0. I click ok, it goes off. It then pops up again randomly days later. Am I supposed to do something to fix this? Thanks.

    Reply
  23. I’m having a similar problem. I’m getting a “Stack overflow on line: 96” message, but only when on Facebook. What can I do to correct this? Thanks.

    Reply
  24. I’m also having the “stack overflow on line 96” only on facebook. What should I do? As soon as I x out of it…it pops back up!

    Reply
  25. I keep getting Stack overflow at line: 145. I only seem to get it on Facebook. Also I do not use Norton so I dont think it has anything to do with Norton. Its only on Facebook so I dont see how it is my computer?

    Reply
  26. I am also getting stack overflow at line….But I get different numbers and not only on facebook but other websites as well. Facebook is the website that used to give me the most problems but now other websites are doing it also.

    I just hope that this is not something that is going to eventually crash my computer.

    Is this something that I could get directions to fix my self or should I get the computer in somewhere to get fixed?

    I do not have Norton because it took up too much of my memory so I got a different program.

    Reply
  27. I keep getting a Stack Overflow Pop Up only on Facebook..please can you tell me how to get rid of it..Many Thanks

    Reply
  28. Not sure if this is it or not, but I am getting same error. Went to microsoft.com to check updates (using a Windows Vista PC) and it said that it’s no longer supporting updates unless you upgrade to Windows 7, or something like that. Also, read in Wikipedia that a Stack Overflow CAN be (if used in this manner) a malicious worm. Not sure if facebook is causing this. I know someone who just got hit in facebook with all his friends getting an advertisement from him that he DID NOT send. Hope this helps stir the pot out there and get us some answers.

    Reply
  29. I too am plagued with a stack overflow on facebook. I have ccleaner, spybot and avg and don’t know how to rid myself of this problem. Any help appreciated. I’m very worried that my computer will crash also.

    Reply
  30. I am constantly getting this same warning – “Windows Internet Explorer – Stack overflow at line: 105”. Doesn’t seem to matter what site, but it often waits a few seconds, as if some process is unable to function properly. I can’t think of any change that started it. How can I track down what is doing it?

    I checked the event viewer but there is nothing. There is an item “Internet Explorer” but its empty.

    It’s either malware or an malfunctioning add-in to IE. Run up to date scans and try disabling addons in the addon manager.

    Leo
    20-Nov-2010

    Reply
  31. I think I found the immediate cause of the Stack overflow warning on my computer. One website would display the Java turning circle for a while, then terminate with “Stack overflow at line xxx”. Noticing the Java icon in the system tray, I opened its control panel, and under an advanced button found a proxy setting with an unknown proxy address and port number. I deleted them and set it to “Direct Connection to the Internet” and the problem seems to have disappeared. It seems that the Java engine has to connect to somewhere (maybe for updates?) and without the connection it doesn’t function properly.

    But I’m left wondering, where did the proxy setting come from?

    I have heard of malware that configures proxy settings – make sure to run updated scans.

    Leo
    02-Dec-2010

    Reply
  32. I believe this is a conflict of more than one antivirus on your system. I have AVG on my system and it worked fine, but somehow I downloaded McAfee and now this problem of “Stack Overflow” has appeared. It must have something to do with internet security I believe.

    Reply

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