How to test system memory (RAM)

When to test?

  • Every time you add or reconfigure memory modules,
  • Every time there is a loss of data for an unknown reason,
  • If the computer locks up or restarts itself more often than once in a month.

Why is it needed?

The RAM memory is used all the time when the computer is on. However, the computer and the operating system do not have any feedback when there is a memory error. Unlike hard drive errors, the memory errors are silent. Data just gets corrupt and nobody notices. Occasionally a part of system memory gets corrupt and the system crashes. Most of the time, it is your data that gets damaged. The memory test is the only way to detect memory errors.

How to test system memory (RAM) using Windows Memory Diagnostic

The Windows Memory Diagnostic program is free, created by Microsoft. Windows Vista, Windows 7 and later have a built-in Windows Memory Diagnostics tool. To run the test you need:

  1. Click the Start and type "memory" in the run line. Select Windows Memory Diagnostic.
  2. The tool offers you two options:
    • Restart now and check for problems.
    • Check for problems the next time I start my computer.
  3. If you choose the first option Windows Memory Diagnostic starts testing immediately. Leave it till it finishes.
  4. If Windows Memory Diagnostic finds any memory errors, these errors must be fixed before doing anything else.
    • Try reseating the memory modules in their sockets and run the test once again.
    • If this does not help, identify the defective memory module by removing modules one by one and re-testing each time.
    • Then, replace the defective module.
    • Run the test again to confirm that the system is now error free. There may be more than one defective module.

If you operate under earlier Windows versions you can try other free software like:

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