How can I test my memory to determine if it is bad?
Bad memory can cause an assortment of different issues on your computer. Below are just a few of the possible issues you may encounter. It is important to remember that the below issues can also be caused by more than just bad memory.
- Computer does not boot, instead you get a beep code. See the POST and beep code page for additional information about beep codes.
- Random computer crashes causing BSOD, General Protection Fault error messages, Illegal Operations, Fatal Exceptions, etc.
- Computer random reboots.
- Installing Windows or another program fails.
Note: Before testing your memory, if you have recently added any new memory into the computer, we suggest you temporarily remove it to make sure it is not the cause of your issue. If the new memory is incompatible or bad, it will be the cause of your issue.
There are several software programs available that are designed to test your computer's hardware including the computer's memory. Below are a few programs designed to test your computer's memory.
- Windows Vista, Windows 7 and later have a Windows Memory Diagnostics tool that can be accessed by clicking on the Start orb and typing memory in the run line. Running this command opens the Memory Diagnostics tool with two options. Either restart immediately or test the memory the next time the computer restarts. Choosing either of these options runs the computer through a memory test the next time it starts up.
- Memtest86 - Our recommendation for testing computer memory, Memtest86 is a x86 compatible free memory tester.
- DocMemory - Another great software solution to test your computer's memory.
In addition to the above solutions there are other fantastic 100% commercial products. Below is a listing of some of these products.
- Memorytesters - Company offers different hardware solution for testing computer memory. These are the highest quality method for testing memory but something only likely to be used at a computer service center because of their cost.
- PC-doctor - Another fantastic but not cheap solution often used for service centers and technicians to diagnose computer hardware issues including memory issues.
- PC Diagnostics - Another company that offers both hardware and software solutions for testing the majority of computer hardware in your computer including the computers memory.
- Ultra-X - Another great collection of products that can help test computer hardware including memory.
Swap and remove memory
If you have access to other compatible computers memory, such as an extra computer in your home or office, or a friend's or co-worker's computer, you can swap that memory into your computer to see if it's a memory issue. Using known good memory in a computer that may have a memory problem is a good method of checking to see if the memory in your computer is bad.
If your memory works in another computer without issues or other memory is experiencing the same issues as your memory you're most likely encountering a motherboard, PSU, or other hardware issue and not a computer memory issue.
Alternatively, if your computer has more then the minimum requirements needed by your operating system, for example if you have 2GB (4x512MB sticks of RAM) you can also temporarily remove a partial amount of RAM to see if you encounter the same issues.
If you have found the memory to be bad we suggest replacing the memory with new memory. Additional information and buying tips on computer memory can be found on our memory buying tips page.