How to test computer memory?February 20th, 2011
Faulty computer memory can be the cause of system instability. It can lead to unexpected program crashes and even cause data loss. To determine whether your computer RAM is faulty you have to put it through a rigorous test using a program called Memtest86+.
Memtest86+ is a free and open source program that will test your memory thoroughly. This is how you use it:
- Go to Memtest download page and grab the latest prebuilt ISO image zip file.
- Unzip it and burn it on to a CD using a tool like imgburn. Make sure you burn it as a CD image and not as an ordinary file.
- Reboot your computer and go into the BIOS menu. Set it so that you boot off your CD/DVD drive. Once you boot off your Memtest86+ CD testing will commence automatically.
Memtest will run continuously until you exit it by pressing ESC. There about 9 tests in all in each pass and you should run memtest for 2 passes at least. On a modern system that should take about half an hour.
If any errors show up you know the memory is faulty. To determine which module is faulty you will have to test them individually.
If no errors show up its unlikely the RAM modules are faulty. However some motherboards can be picky about which RAM they will work with so memory incompatibility cannot be ruled out.
Using memtest you can shop for second hand memory with greater confidence. It can also help you diagnose causes of computer system instability.