Common PC problems and how to fix them: RAM – DIY in 5 Ep 206

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Published on 10 Sep 2023, 15:00
Memory generally causes fewer problems than other computer components. However, this means memory problems are harder to diagnose when they do occur. This video is to help you diagnose more common PC RAM problems so that you can fix them.

If you watched Episode 205 (youtube.com/watch?v=1oZvI32Jrd... you may have noticed that RAM problems can mimic SSD problems. But their impact on your usage can differ significantly. If you have a portable SSD attached to your PC for backup purposes, and your Kingston software notifies you that it’s running extremely hot with several corrupted sectors. You could use a different backup solution as a temporary workaround, since the SSD that may fail in your system may not be your main drive. However, RAM is different. Computers use RAM to store temporary data, rather than in a cache or permanent storage. If your RAM fails, there is no workaround that can keep things ticking over until the RAM is replaced. If you have a program with certain RAM requirements and one of the modules essential to meeting that requirement goes bad, there is no workaround until you can replace the stick.

What causes RAM failures, rare as they are? At their root, it’s almost always power surges and excessive heat. RAM, like all other components, runs in a specific voltage range, and power surges cause an overvoltage situation.

If you’re dealing with a RAM failure, you’ll notice telltale signs such as the infamous blue screen of death. Failing RAM can cause blue screens, and if the PC doesn’t blue screen, it could just freeze with the display stuck on your last task. A RAM issue could also cause long loading times. As mentioned earlier, RAM uses temporary storage space and if your current modules are reduced, your system will need to supplement with slower methods. If this happens you will normally see a gradual deterioration of the overall PC performance. A fourth symptom of RAM failure can be failure of installation for new programs or new installs. Fifth, random reboots occurring can be a sign of failing RAM.

Another sign is when files that are often accessed and saved get caught in the temporary space as it fails, leading to file corruption and data loss. Yet another: you can no longer run two simultaneous virtual machines that you designed to work in unison, because Windows is telling you that you no longer have the RAM for it. This can be verified by navigating to Control Panel - System and Security - System. Your missing RAM will no longer show under the detailed computer statistics. Eighth, dude! You got a Dell! If you hear beep codes when your PC posts, it could be a telltale sign that your memory died. Beep codes can give multiple reasons for what is wrong with our PCs, but for many years, the only failure that Dell computers would give a beep code for was RAM. So, most Dell forums state to check RAM first in these cases.

If you’ve noticed the signs we just discussed, there are a few online tools useful for helping diagnose PC pain points as symptoms of actual RAM issues. These tools include a built-in Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, MemTest64, and MemTest86. These tools stress test your RAM, looking for errors. A MemTest tool is stronger than the built-in Windows tool, but the Windows tool is more easily accessible as a starting point. If any of these tools find an error, the first thing to try is reseating the RAM. This can sometimes correct the error, but typically you’ll need to replace it altogether. This may mean replacing one bad stick with an exact replica, or buying a whole new kit.

While installing new RAM, avoid any static discharge. It’s a good idea to give your PC a cleaning while you’re in there. RAM can be affected by power surges and heat, and good ventilation (with clear fans and minimal buildup of dust or detritus in the case) is within your control. Overclocking can also impact RAM lifespan. Finally, make sure you BIOS stays up to date, like your malware protection. If your BIOS is doing something that can peg the CPU/memory for hours at a time, you may run into a heat issue again. So again, if you overclock, do it within the RAM’s limits.

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Timecodes:
0:00 Intro
1:04 Causes
2:40 Troubleshooting
4:18 Outro
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