Installing additional RAM, or memory, provides a fast way to improve your computer's performance. As the computer runs multiple programs at once, the RAM requirements increase in order to hold all the data in memory. Programs such as photo-editing software and games also require large amounts of RAM to run properly. Installing RAM is a simple procedure, but turns complicated if your computer won't boot afterward. The problem may have several causes, from improper installation to faulty memory chips.
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Adding RAM requires more planning than simply inserting an additional stick. Many motherboards require you to install RAM in a specific pattern. If your RAM slots have a colour coding, with two matching colour pairs, your motherboard may use a dual channel configuration. In this case, install one stick of RAM into the first slot and a second of equal size into the third slot, which matches the colour of the first. To further expand your memory, add a second pair to the second and fourth slots.
Every motherboard supports a specific type of RAM, such as DDR2 or DDR3. Using the incorrect type may stop the computer from booting. Motherboards may also require particular speeds of RAM, such as 1066, 1333 and 1600, or only work with certain RAM speeds at certain CPU speeds. Check your motherboard's instruction manual or the manufacturer's website to find the Qualified Vendor List. The QVL contains a chart of every supported brand and model of RAM for your specific motherboard.
If you installed the proper type of RAM correctly and the computer still won't boot, one or more of the RAM sticks may be defective. Try swapping out a single stick of RAM at a time if your motherboard allows, or one pair at a time if necessary, to determine when the computer will boot. If the computer works with all but one stick or set of RAM, return it to your retailer or the manufacturer for a replacement.
If your computer occasionally boots successfully or boots but later crashes, determining the bad stick of RAM becomes more difficult. Microsoft provides the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool to run intensive tests on your RAM to root out the malfunctioning part. Download the diagnostic tool from Microsoft and follow the provided directions to burn the files to a CD-R. Boot your computer with the disc in your drive and allow the program to run. If the diagnostic finds an error, narrow down the location by testing individual or pairs of RAM sticks. Once you determine the product with the problem, return it for a replacement.
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