RAM memory is one of the components that most often fail in a computer. This main memory can cause a huge number of symptoms that can also be confused with other problems, such as CPU failure, motherboard failure, etc. For this reason, it is important to know how to check the RAM memory to determine if it is a failure of it or another component.
Reasons for RAM memory failure
RAM memory can fail for various reasons, some of which are detailed in this list:
- Dirt – This can be a cause of failure when it gets into the DIMM slots and prevents them from making proper contact. Therefore, it is important to keep it clean.
- Temperature: High temperature can also cause various problems, from stresses in the materials and cracks in the welds, to melting of the chips, etc.
- ESD – Electrostatic discharges also damage CMOS chips, which are quite susceptible to these voltages. Especially if you touch these modules without proper protection.
- Electromigration: with use, temperature, voltage, and high frequency, the chips also suffer a deterioration in their interconnections due to this phenomenon, which can trigger a failure.
- Manufacturing faults: Manufacturing faults can occur at the beginning of the use of a new RAM module, they usually do not take long to appear.
- Others: it could also fail for other reasons than the above, although they are not as frequent.
On the other hand, it is important to identify the symptoms that may be indicating that you have a RAM memory problem. As I said before, they can be very diverse, and can be confused with problems with other components:
- BSoD (Bluescreen of Death) in Windows, that is the blue screen.
- Random crashes during normal computer use.
- Unexpected restarts in any type of situation.
- Errors during startup or boot of the operating system.
- A series of beeps or beeps during startup.
- Error messages during the use of the operating system, any software, or even during the installation of the OS.
- Data Corruption.
All these problems prevent the equipment from being used normally. They are usually very annoying, and worst of all, they can lead to data loss, either due to a data corruption problem or a failure during the use of the software that is manipulating a certain file.
How to know if a RAM memory is failing?
In order to confirm or rule out that it is a fault in the RAM memory, you have a series of tools to be able to diagnose and check problems of this nature. You can find both built-in tools in the Microsoft Windows operating system itself as well as other additional ones, and even use some tricks such as looking at the information in the BIOS or in Windows to see if there are inconsistencies between the installed and detected RAM memory, which is usually also a symptom that something is wrong with this component.
- Download MemTest86+ or any Live or bootable system that contains it. You can boot from a CD/DVD or USB drive by going into BIOS/UEFI and changing the boot priority. You may also need to enable Legacy mode or CSM (Compatibility Support Module), and disable Secure Boot. Be that as it may, once it boots from the medium in which you have hosted Memtest86+, you can continue with the following steps.
- Once it is running, you will see that it has a very simple interface based on a GUI, with nothing to do with the previous editions in which it was based on text.
- On the main screen, you must click with the mouse on Config, for configuration.
- Then you must click on Test Selection and choose the test you need to run.
- Then you can press Start Test to start the test you have chosen.
- At this moment, the test will start and all you have to do is wait for the results to come out. It may take a long time, depending on the test and the amount of RAM. You must be patient. But what you should know is the columns of information that Memtests86+ shows you during the analysis since they will give you what you need to confirm or rule out a RAM failure:
- Time: the time elapsed since the start of the test.
- Pass: number of passes of the test. Remember that 8 passes are the minimum you should do to get reliable conclusive results. If you have done less than 8, even if there is no error detected, it is not sure that it is not a RAM memory failure. On the other hand, if it has detected a fault, even if it is only one, regardless of whether it was detected in the first or the 8th pass, it will be indicative of a memory error.
- Error or failures is the column that shows the errors that are being detected if any. It appears highlighted in red, and it is the one that will indicate the status of the RAM memory. If nothing appears in this column, you can be satisfied, since it is not a RAM failure. If failures appear, you should replace your memory module with another.
- SLOTs: check the results that also tell you the modules analyzed and where the problems are to help you eliminate the problematic module. If you don’t know how the DIMM slots are numbered, you should consult your motherboard manual or look at the markings etched into the motherboard, which sometimes indicate this.
- Windows tools :
- Press Windows + R to be able to execute commands.
- In the pop-up type “mdsched” without quotes and press ENTER to run or hit the Run button.
- You will see the system reboot and some checks will be performed during boot.
- Once the test is over, it returns you to your Windows desktop.
- If during the process it found any error, it will indicate it on the screen.
- Antivirus scanner – It is also a smart choice to run an antivirus or antimalware scanner that scans your RAM for viruses if there are any issues with malicious code loaded into your RAM. This can be a common problem with malicious code loaded into RAM on Windows rather than *nix systems like Linux or macOS, although these are not without risk. For example, Malwarebytes provides a tool to scan RAM.
- Other Options – Other ways to detect possible RAM problems are:
- You can open your computer and check if there is dirt in the RAM slot.
- You can also check that the modules are well inserted and that they have not been moved or released by vibrations.
- Swap the slot modules and try booting the system again to see if it works.
- Check for BIOS updates, especially on older computers, some RAM issues could come from here.
- If you suspect a specific module, you can shut down the computer, remove that module or replace it with another, boot again and see if the problem has been solved. In such a case you will know that there was a fault in it.
- Use a POST card to diagnose what is happening, or know the beep code of your BIOS/UEFI to detect what the problem is with your PC, whether it is RAM or of another nature.
How to fix possible RAM memory problems?
RAM failures are common, and if your new RAM has failed, you may be wondering if you can try to repair it or give it a second chance. There are a few ways to recover RAM after a crash, but only for certain problems.
In practice, RAM that has suffered a hardware failure is not repaired. You must first locate the broken chip or component if you want to repair a problem module. If you identify it, you must desolder it, remove it and replace it with a new one, which you must re-solder on the board. In the case of some SMDs, it can be relatively straightforward, but in the case of BGA chips, reballing equipment would be needed.
Furthermore, subjecting circuits to extreme conditions, as the high temperatures they are exposed to during reballing can damage or shorten the life of nearby elements, is not the best practice if you have other options.
Repairing a RAM module is not worth the effort, as the high costs make it unworthy. The only option when a RAM module fails is to simply replace it, as it is faster and cheaper. Finding the right parts, especially memory chips, can be challenging, especially when they come from multiple manufacturers and are not all identical. You may be able to locate some on platforms like Aliexpress, but it won’t be easy.
Do not forget to perform the following maintenance steps :
- Cleaning the contacts of the RAM memory module.
- Cleaning the slots or SO-DIMM or DIMM insertion slots of your equipment to prevent dirt from causing contact failure.
- Maintenance of the heat sinks of the RAM memory modules if it has them. And this also involves renewing the thermal paste if they are removed.
Now you know how you can diagnose that a RAM memory is healthy or failing and be able to rule out this type of problem, as well as fix some of them.
Also, read about How To Choose A Processor To Play?
Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.