Testing your RAM Memory

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.)

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