This weekend, one of the computers in the Donahue family (Cayenne) decided it was time to get sick. Lots of page faults, IRQ errors, system shutdowns, and BSOD.
After doing a little research, I found that my error codes could be software or hardware generated. So, I used the XP system restore to take myself back 30 days or so. It was very clear, very quickly that this was not helping. I went out on the prowl for a way to test my RAM memory.
I found CST Inc at www.simmtester.com. They make a commercial product that they sell to most of the memory vendors and OEMs. They also offer a freeware version called DocMemory that you can download. It boots to a floppy and runs a several diagnostics on your RAM memory.
Using DocMemory, I was able to determine that one of the DIMMs that came with Cayenne was failing. It failed the "quick-test" of MATS+, March B, March C-, Checkerboard, Burst and Moving Inversion. At that point, it was pretty clear that using the more involved "Burnt-In" test was not going to be necessary.
So, when I spoke with Dell, I told them about my diagnostics. Since they use the commercial version of the software, I was able to just give the test results and the service tech set me up for an immediate replacement. (Wow! Simple! "Easy as Dell"…if I do say so myself!)
If your getting a lot of page fault errors, or suspect your RAM memory might failing, or just need to test RAM memory, I recommend DocMemory. It saved me a full software restore and hours of frustration.
(Note: Yes, the computer is named "Cayenne". All the Donahue computers are named after peppers along the Scoville scale. The hotter the pepper – the hotter the computer. Geeky? Definitely.)