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, and you are getting a beep code. See the POST and beep code page for additional information about them.
- Random computer crashes causing BSOD, General Protection Fault error messages, Illegal Operations, Fatal Exceptions, etc.
- Random computer reboots.
- Windows or other program installation failure.
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.
There are several software programs available that are designed to test your computer's hardware, including the 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: "Restart now and check for problems" or "Check for problems the next time I start my computer." 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 an x86 compatible, free memory tester.
- DocMemory - Another great software solution to test the status of 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.
- Memory testers - Companies offer different hardware solution for testing computer memory. These are the highest quality methods for testing memory, but likely only to be used at a computer service center because of their cost.
- PC-doctor - Another fantastic, but not cheap solution often used by 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 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 compatible memory from another computer, such as an extra computer in your home, office, a friend's, or co-worker's computer, you can swap that memory into your computer to see if it's the issue. Using memory known to be functional in a computer that may have a memory problem is a good method of checking.
Alternatively, if your computer has more than the minimum requirements needed by your operating system, for example if you have 2GB of RAM (4 slots of 500Mb), you may also temporarily remove a some of it 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.