Although it is very rare for computer memory modules to be faulty, it does happen on occasion. You should consider that possibility if your computer is exhibiting seemingly random problems that are difficult to explain. Unfortunately, if you are unable to load Windows, it can be difficult to test your computer's memory to determine whether there may be a problem. Use Memtest86 to test the memory on a computer that is unable to load its operating system.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Working computer with CD burner
- Blank CD
Download and install ImgBurn from the ImgBurn.com website on a working computer with a CD burner. Note that you can use any CD writing utility that can handle ISO files; you only need ImgBurn if you do not have a CD writing utility already.
Download the Memtest86 bootable CD ISO image from the Memtest86.com website. Extract it to the location of your choice.
Insert a blank CD into your computer and launch ImgBurn. Click "Write image file to disc."
Click the folder icon, and navigate to the location of the Memtest86 ISO image. Double-click the file.
Click the icon on the bottom of the window to begin burning the CD. The Memtest86 image file is very small, so burning the disc will be quick.
Insert the completed Memtest86 disc into the computer that you need to test. Start or restart the computer. It should boot from the Memtest86 disc automatically. If it doesn't, enter the configuration utility for your motherboard (by pressing the key indicated when your computer is first turned on) and look for a menu selection labelled "Boot Order" (or similar). Adjust the boot order so that the CD or DVD drive appears first, then restart the computer.
Press "1" after the CD boots if you have a single-CPU system, "2" if you have a multi-CPU system, or "3" if your computer has more than 4 GB of RAM. If you do nothing, option "1" is selected after a few seconds.
Examine the screen as your computer is tested. Errors are shown on the lower-right corner of the screen. Allow the test to complete at least one full pass, which takes five to 10 minutes, before concluding that your computer's memory does not have a problem. If no errors are shown after several passes are completed, it is likely that the cause of your computer's problem is not the memory.
Tips and warnings
- If you have an older computer without a CD burner, the floppy disk version of Memtest86 has the same functionality as the CD version and can be used in its place.
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