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RAM Goes Bad

A major cause of Blue Screens of Death revealed.

Steve Smith explains why you may be having the BSOD, and how your RAM may play an important role in this failure.

Episode #3-20 released on February 10, 2013

RAM goes bad, and it can cause problems. Figuring out our RAM has issues may actually save us time in figuring out what is truly wrong with our computers.

Ever get the Blue Screen of Death?

Well most of the time, the reason why your computer crashes is because files have been corrupted in some sort of way, like within memory, and even though this can be a fluke, it may be your RAM starting to fail. RAM, after all, is only a bunch of memory chips that can be affect by many of the same issues as hard drives. If there are unknown bad sectors on your hard drive, you hard drive can be throwing errors into the mix, and only SMART and a scan disk can determine this, but your RAM isn't as readily scanned by these software solutions.

In order to test to your RAM, you need an application called Memtest86+ which tests RAM for failed sectors. The test may take a few minutes, maybe a few hours, depending on how much RAM you have, but running it just once may not be enough to see underlying issues, you may wish to run in for a day to see if any of the chips throw any sort of errors. I'll even go as far as stating you should run this application on new RAM just to make sure they are in good working order before you start using the RAM in your computer.

How can RAM be damaged?

RAM is affected by the effects of over heating, over voltage, stress, and just general usage. The more the RAM is used, the more likely it can fail. This is not to say it will fail, but it becomes more likely. Overclocking RAM is the last of the overclocking tricks you should employ, using faster RAM is better than overclocking it, since over voltage can cause damage to the RAM. Reading the specifications of the RAM and staying inside the recommended voltages is preferred. And, as for the heat issues, it is possible to install fans on your RAM bars, you simply need to go to your local computer store, and installing it, make sure you plug it in before powering on your computer, so as not to isolate the air of the RAM.

What should I do if I find bad RAM?

Unlike hard drives that identify and ignore sectors on their surface that are no longer good, RAM can't do that. You have to remove the bad RAM, and either throw it away, or recycle it in an ecologically safe manner, I vote for the environment.

Bad RAM will eventually prevent you from accessing your Windows as it safeguards itself and the computer from harm. Bad RAM can corrupt everything from your files your working on, to various system files, even knock offline some of our overclocking software that safeguards our computers from high voltage and heat issues. RAM affects anything stored into RAM. Bad RAM can make everything unstable, unreliable and dangerous to run.

The good thing about RAM is the price point. It is relatively cheaper to replace RAM, then to buy a new computer for no reason.

How much can we expect to spend testing the RAM ourselves, and replacing it by ourselves?

Memtest86+ is free. In my area, the cost of bring your computer to a specialist is $35 for diagnostics, and $25 an hour. If it takes 2 hours for a typical scan to find the failed RAM, it comes out to $85, plus taxes, plus the new RAM. New RAM ranges from $25 to several hundred, depending on your RAM, but most will only purchase 4 to 8 GB of RAM, so less than a hundred dollars in CANADA or the USA to replace the bad RAM. There are no drivers to install, or software you need to update when it comes to RAM, with the possible but rare BIOS issues. Check your mainboard manual and the web-site for all compatible RAM solutions.

Next time you have a Blue Screen of Death, do yourself a favor before you reinstall Windows, check your RAM with Memtest86+. You can download the latest version of Memtest86+ at http://www.memtest.org.

Next week, I talk about DNS, more specifically OpenDNS and how two new IP addresses in your DNS settings can provide a better experience of the internet. I, also, talk about the option of using a filtered OpenDNS for internet connects for your kids, protecting them from unintentional access to adult web-sites.

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Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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