Atom feed fatal error/Premature end of document on startup

On starting Dorico 4.3.30 for the first time today on my Windows 10 (fully updated) system, then walking away from the computer for maybe 10 minutes, I came back to a dialog box that read, “Ato feed fatal error on line 1, column 0: Premature end of document.”:


After a while more, Dorico did come into the Steinberg hub with its list of documents. I then tried to open one of the existing documents I’d worked on previously, and it got to the 92% mark then Dorico disappeared. A diagnostics report can be found at:

Once I verified that Dorico was no longer showing in Task Manager, I started Dorico again, got to the hub (much faster this time, but that is pretty typical on my system due to the large number of plugins and the first time accessing them, such as for a scan, after a reboot), and loaded the same document with no problem.

I noticed there were two DMP files in the diagnostics file. One was from a freezedump at 12:24 PM (perhaps related to the dialog box?), and the other was a normal DMP file at 12:41 PM (probably the time of the crash).

Note that the “end of document reference” was just getting to the hub. I did not start Dorico directly from double clicking on a file.

That read-out on the splash screen is a red herring: the message typically shows you the last thing that happened, rather than the thing that’s happening now. When Dorico hangs (or appears to hang) at that point in the start-up process, it’s because it’s trying to start the audio engine.

I’m not sure after reading your post (which I did quickly, I’m sorry, because I’m trying to catch up on several days’ posts at once) whether you’re still having this problem or reported it as a one-off, but if you still need help, do let us know.

Hi Daniel, the same thing happened again today, with the same basic pattern of freezedump and normal dmp files, though I did not notice any stuck splash screen this time (but I’d also been away from my computer for quite a while while it was starting up). From looking quickly at the two DMP files contained in the diagnostics report, it looks like they have the same sort of stack trace as last time.

I suspect the common denominator here may be that this is the first time starting Dorico after booting up, and the initial plugin scan on my computer (be it in Cubase or Dorico or some other program) takes a very long time due to lots of plugins and a relatively slow system disk). This morning I’d also happened to update Kontakt 7, which would mean a new plugin scan there. (A first load of Kontakt after a bootup is painfully slow on my system. We’re talking multiple minutes Cubase gets freezedumps with the first load of Kontakt, and also Guitar Rig, in a project after bootup – I’ve spent a bunch of time troubleshooting that with NI in Cubase, but with no verdict as to why, no less a fix. But one difference there is Cubase doesn’t crash in that scenario. It just produces the freezedump file and Kontakt/Guitar Rig load just fine after the delay.)

In today’s case, the scenario was the same where Dorico disappeared/crashed around the 92% point of opening an existing document (not the same one as last time – Kontakt isn’t in either of the projects). But then, after restarting Dorico, I could load that same project with no problem.

I did not see that problem one time in between these two incidents, but it could be that something was different in the scenario. For example, it may be that I’d started Cubase and used it for a while between bootup and starting Dorico. If there is something related to plugin load times (and disk caching after that first load) that causes this, that could explain why it would happen these two times but not the other time since Cubase would have done the plugin scan, thus putting the plugins in disk cache, prior to the Dorico start.

It looks like this may be a similar situation to something encountered with Dorico back in December:

In that case, cleaning up some older Waves plugins appears to have helped somewhat. Maybe Waves has installed more versions since then (I do know they’ve had updates).

Hi @rickpaul , could you please provide a new diagnostics report? Thanks a lot

Hi Ulf,

The latest one (yesterday) is at:

The one from last Thursday is still at:

Hi @rickpaul , thanks for the data.
Again, there are freezedumps of the audio engine as well as real crashes from Dorico. For the Dorico crashes I have asked Daniel to take a look.
In the log files I see that still the audio engine initialization takes a very long time. If you want, we can try to find out why it takes such a long time. You have so many plug-ins that need to get scanned, so it could be just one of them that takes so long or everyone takes evenly long time. In order to find out I would need to ask you to install Windows Performance Recorder tool. Do you want to proceed along that path? It’s going to be long and laborious…

Hi Ulf, on the freezedumps I do know certain plugins (e.g. Kontakt, Guitar Rig Pro, Arturia, and at least some from Waves) can take extraordinarily long (upwards of a minute) times to load on the first access after a reboot, not only in Cubase, but also in Cakewalk by BandLab, and also standalone where applicable. I believe the issue there is likely a combination of a relatively slow hard disk for my system disk and the number of plugins I have (for DAWs, but an initial standalone Kontakt load would likely only have the hard disk loading dependency). The first start of Cubase after a reboot also takes a very long time, and I think this relates to the difference between loading from hard disk or loading from disk crash (on subsequent starts of any plugin scans). Windows and Edge updates, and Adobe updates, can also be quite painful on my system, to the point where Task Manager may even take a minute or more to come up, and Task Manager and Resource Monitor show C: disk being absolutely hammered.

At least with Cubase (and maybe also with Dorico?) the freezedumps are not devastating. For example, Kontakt 7 (and also 6) always get a freezedump in Cubase on the first load of Kontat after a reboot, but after several minutes, Kontakt does load and work just fine, and subsequent loads will happen much more quickly (a few seconds).

Your “long and laborious” warning would tend to make me shy away from going the Windows Performance Recorder route at this time since I do believe the issue isn’t likely any one plugin but rather the overall combination of the number of plugins and the slow hard disk. The long startup of Dorico after reboot and crash on opening a first document, then needing to restart (and having it work normally thereafter) is a relatively minor annoyance since I don’t use Dorico every day (or even every week). Ultimately, I know I will need to upgrade my system, but finances do not permit that in the near term.

That said, perhaps it may depend what you mean by long and laborious.

Hi @rickpaul,

well, as you describe it, it really sounds like an underpowered system and I have enough other things to do, so I wouldn’t mind if we can leave it as it is. Only if you really want I would want to go the long way. Let me know what you think.

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Yeah, I built my system back in late 2014, and while it largely still does everything I need it to do, I do think the system disk speed, alongside all the software I run on it, is the bottleneck here, so I think we are best off leaving it as it is. At least there is a workaround of starting the program a second time when this occurs. (And it did not occur today, despite starting Dorico after a reboot, with no Cubase or other plugin-hosting audio programs in between. Maybe the common denominator for the two times it did occur her was that there were new plugins to scan due a Kontakt update in the most recent case and lots of other plugin updates since my previous Dorico run in the first case.)

Okay, then let’s leave it as it is.
And you know where to find me, should you be in trouble again.

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I’ve suddenly started getting a similar “atom feed fatal error” every time I start Dorico and I don’t know why. It doesn’t hang the start-up nor cause any other issues so far I’ve noticed but it would be useful to at least know what it means. Many thanks!
Dorico (551.2 KB)

Me too:


exactly what I saw! I’m sure there’s a good explanation out there.

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This isn’t occurring for me on Mac, so it looks like it might be a Windows-only problem. I’ll take a look tomorrow to see if I can reproduce this for myself on Windows.

I had the same text show up this morning when opening Dorico on an iMac at the college where I teach. It didn’t seem to perform strangely after that. The text just took me by surprise.

this morning, I can no longer see this text though it happened every single one of the numerous times I opened Dorico yesterday. Very strange. Will be interesting to see if Daniel can reproduce on Windows.

Same here, too. Yesterday I had it all the time on my Win machine, today not any more.

For whatever it’s worth (since I’m the one who originally started this thread, though it was less about the message that is the title than the crashes I was seeing the first time I loaded a document after booting my system), I haven’t seen this sort of issue since I replaced my system disk, which was a relatively old hard disk at the point I reported this and was also nearing the end of its life (it developed severe problems a few months back), with an SSD.

While I don’t know, one way or the other, that it relates to this specific message (I just figured that might be one meaningful symptom of the bigger problem), the problem on my very slow startup, and possibly the crash on loading the first document after a reboot, related to how long it took to scan the VERY large number of VST plugins I have from a slow-and-getting-slower hard disk (after the initial scan, they’d be cached in memory), whereas now that scan goes much more quickly since it is loading them off an SSD.

I tried loading Dorico (4.3.31) this morning, and it only took a small number of minutes to load, and there was no crash on loading a document for the first time, nor did I see this message.