Failing memory can cause your PC to act in strange and unpredictable ways. Faulty memory can cause programs to crash, your system to freeze, and the occasional blue screen of death. Luckily, Windows 7 and Windows 8 (a download is available for Windows XP) come with a built in program to check your memory and diagnose what problems you may be experiencing. RAM may not be very expensive to replace, but running a quick memory test should be your first step.
While later versions of Windows come with a built in tool to test memory, if you’re using Windows XP, you will have to download Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool from the internet. Unfortunately this program is no longer available from Microsoft’s website. However, a similar program is available for free download from Softpedia.com.
Running a memory test in Windows XP requires a few extra steps and the following items:
Your first step is to download the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool. It is not longer hosted on Microsoft’s website, but you can find a working copy here. You’ll notice that the download isn’t an .exe file. The file you just downloaded is a .iso disc image. An .iso file is simply a file that is an image of a CD or DVD. That is to say, it is a copy of a disc the contains the entire contents of a CD or DVD in a single file. Before you can use this file we need to download some additional software.
To use this file, you must create what is known as a bootable CD. A bootable CD is a disc which a PC can load on startup the same as it would Windows. While there are many programs which can create a bootable CD from an .iso image, CDBurnerXP is free and works great for this purpose.
One final step is required before you can use your newly created CD to run a memory test. You must change your PC’s boot sequence in your BIOS menu. This may sound difficult and confusing, however it is a fairly straightforward process.
Now that you’ve created your CD and your PC is configured to run from that CD, it is time to begin your memory test.
Thankfully, the process for testing memory has been simplified for users of later versions of Windows. Microsoft has built the Memory Diagnostics Tool into the operating system itself, so you don’t need to worry about downloads and bootable CDs.
The process for running a memory test in Windows 8 is basically the same as in Windows 7. The only difference is how to get to your Control Panel to set up the test.
Steve Horton has been working with computers for over 20 years. He's dedicated to helping people get the most out of their PCs, and likes playing cards and writing comics.
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