Ram can be a 4 letter word,…sometimes

Posted: March 30, 2007 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,


As so often happens, I was working on a troublesome PC, trying to determine why it was locking up so frequently, and when brainstorming with a friend about it, faulty RAM was mentioned. having exhausted most of the simple tests and quick fixes in my bag of tricks, i went and downloaded the most recent version of Memtest86, an old program I had forgotten about.
Test Your RAM for Free
Is your computer plagued by random lockups and unexplainable crashes? The problem could be your RAM. A bad stick of RAM can wreak havoc with your system, causing one or all of the following problems.

• Program crashes
• Random restarts
• Corrupt files
• Freezing
• The dreaded Blue Screen of Death
• General and uncategorizable weirdness
There are versions of Memtest available for both Windows and Linux, and you can download them for free at

After you’ve downloaded and unzipped the file, insert a blank floppy disk into your PC and run the install.bat file. Once the installer exits, restart your computer with the floppy disk inserted. Memtest86 will load and run a series of seven tests. One pass of these tests can take between 10 and 30 minutes to complete, depending on the speed of your computer. There are also downloadable image files so you can burn a bootable cd to run the tests, if, like many PC’s nowadays, you have no floppy drive.

Memtest86 will run consecutive passes of the default tests until you exit by pressing Esc. In most cases, one pass will find any errors that exist.

What Memtest86 can’t do
Unfortunately, most memory-testing software can’t tell you which RAM module is responsible for the errors. Memtest86 is no exception. If you did get one or more error messages, there are some things you can do to fix the problem.
• Overclocked PCs can produce memory errors
If you’re an overclocker, you may need to dial back your CPU’s clock speed to its default setting and rerun Memtest86.
• How to identify the bad RAM module
1. If you have only one memory module in your PC, replace it with one that you know has no errors and rerun Memtest86.
2. If you have more than one memory module, remove all but one and rerun Memtest86. After each battery of tests, replace the module with another until you receive those error messages again.
Also check you ram slots
Sometimes it is not the ram, but a faulty slot on the motherboard. It is worthwhile to try the potentially bad stick of ram in another slot to be sure.
• Take it to the shop
Computer stores and repair shops have RAM-testing hardware they use to diagnose problems. Usually, they’ll test your RAM for free in hopes of selling you a replacement.
I hope the information above is helpful to a few people, but sometimes what seems like bad ram is actually something completely different. For instance, in my case it was a bad motherboard that was causing the symptoms normally associated with bad ram.

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