What is RAM?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is a way for your computer to store temporary data or information that it is likely to need quickly and very frequently. Other ways that computers store data are through a cache or storage. Storage, often wrongly referred to as memory, is permanent data stored on a hard drive or solid state drive. A CPU cache is a small amount of memory that is stored right on the CPU chip. The cache is for data that is used very frequently. Both the RAM and CPU cache are temporary data stores that are cleared when your computer is turned off.

However, the Memory problems are very less common than a lot of other computer problems for the reason that memory sticks have no moving parts so have less points of failure. However, due to this a lot of RAM problems are misdiagnosed. Memory generally is more retentive than other computer components so manufacturers offer warranties longer on the RAM than most other computer parts.

Symptoms of a RAM problem

  1. When your programs, websites, and other usual work you do on your computer becomes usually slower than normal it is a symptom of weakening RAM.
  2. When computer restart randomly when you are in the middle of something or if it freezes up intermittently, this could be a sign of defective RAM.
  3. When your computer screen flashes a blue screen with white text before restarting it might be a sign of damaged RAM, however, many other things can also cause this problem.
  4. When you face the problem of files getting randomly corrupted or the file structure of your hard drive go downhill and become unbootable this situation is caused by a defective RAM.
  5. When you attempt to install and new program and repeatedly get a failure message on your screen this might be due to a damaged RAM.
  6. When you try to reinstall the operating system, but keep getting odd error messages it is almost a sure sign of defective memory.

There are surely numerous problems that could cause the issues listed above, but defective RAM is often ignored. If you have one or few of the above listed problems it is likely your computer has a defective RAM.

What sort of problem could have caused damage to your RAM?

  • Power Surge: Power surges of course can cause all types of problems to computer components including RAM. The best way to protect your computer is to plug your computer into a surge protector.
  • Improper Earthing: Electrostatic discharge can cause damage to many computer components including RAM.
  • Heat: Excessive heat can cause RAM and many other computer parts to wear out over time. If your CPU is kept in such a place where it can’t get cool by air it is more likely that your computer components might get heated and stops working. Not just heat from each individual part, but heat from one component can cause damage to adjacent parts in a computer.
  • Misconfiguration: If you have overclocked (Overclocking is the process of making a computer or component work more rapidly than the clock rate specified by the manufacturer by changing system parameters) any part of your computer improperly, it may cause damage to your RAM in the form of excess heat as noted above.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Your RAM may have some fault that did not become evident instantaneously or worsened over time, may cause damage to your RAM.

It is also possible that the RAM is not the problem at all. One or more memory slots on your motherboard could have a flaw that made the RAM to not execute on the whole. The defect may even be so bad that it damaged the memory stick in some manner.

Diagnosing the Problem

If you have recently added more RAM to your computer and facing problems then it may be your new RAM. This appears apparent, but any time a problem starts taking place after making any change to your computer, first check to see if the change induced the problem.

If your computer produces multiple beeps or a constant beep when you start it, these beeps can be a sign of different problems as well as possibly being a symptom of bad RAM. Beep codes differ by the manufacturer of your BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). You should first look up for the beep codes for your computer, this can help you eradicate other potential troubles.

The levers for the memory slot are white in this example.
RAM Slot Levers: The levers for the memory slot are white in this example.

There are various diagnostic programs that can help you figure out if you have a RAM problem. Your computer may have one pre-installed or you can download a third party program such as memtest86. Microsoft also has a program to help you diagnose RAM problems. The Windows Memory Diagnostic is a very good program to use if you suspect RAM problems on your computer.

If the programs listed above shows that your RAMs are properly functioning, but you still suspect a RAM problem or if you need to find which RAM is the problem you can try removing and exchanging their position in different slots. Memory modules are small circuit boards that will be perpendicular to your motherboard. If your computer has more than one module you need to remove all of them except one and then run the diagnostic tests discussed above or perform the task that usually causes the problem, keep changing the RAMs until you find out which RAM is malfunctioned.

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RAM Slot Levers: What installed memory modules look like.

Fixing the Problem

To take out a RAM you will need to press the tiny levers on each end to release it. When you press the levers on the both sides of the Memory slot your RAM will pop up. When replacing a RAM, make sure the indention on the bottom is lined up properly with the slot and then press it in until you hear the levers snap and get fixed in the place they intend to.

If you find that your RAM sticks are working properly, then it might be the memory slot, in that case you would need to replace your motherboard. Due to a power surge it is possible that all the memory modules are damaged and you need to buy a new motherboard.