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Possible ram failure


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#1 setasdefault

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 09:34 PM

Hi everyone,
Last night I shut down my computer for the night, then realized I forgot something. When I went to turn it back on, it wouldn't boot. I restarted again, and this time I just got blue screens over and over. I was able to run the utility on the invisible Dell partition, which said the memory in the DIMM-A slot was bad. After tons of juggling, I was able to get a livecd of linux to run by taking out the bad DIMM and leaving in only the good one (which I had by then moved to the DIMM-A slot). But no matter what, I couldn't boot Windows after that, so I had to reformat the drive. I had a few questions before I get new ram. Why did one stick of bad ram trash my windows install, when the computer was off of all times? And is it possible that I have a mobo issue, where if I bought new ram, it would get eaten? Again, my "good stick" is in the DIMM-A "bad slot", and it's working ok so far. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 09:47 AM

<<Why did one stick of bad ram trash my windows install, when the computer was off of all times?>>

To be honest...you are assuming an awful lot about cause-and-effect in the world of computing.

1. First assumption is that the error message is correct in determining that there is a bad RAM module. My experience is that a number of things can cause a system to act as if that is so...and a number of things can cause error messages which do not pinpoint the problem at all.

Many error messages pinpoint memory as the problem...when, in actuality, memory is merely where the problem becomes apparent. An analogy of sorts would be a fire alarm going off (indicating that there is a fire in a given location) but the cause of the fire (faulty wiring) remains untreated or known as the cause of the fire.

This is one reason why a large number of Windows STOP messages...are so imprecise. Any number of factors could be the actual "cause" or primary contributor to a computer error.

To add to this, I know that a weak CMOS battery has generated any number of erroneous error messages on my systems...but they were all pegged as memory/driver errors.

That's why a user should first test the premise that the error message implies/states.

I would have downloaded and run Memtest86+ as a way of refining my search for verification. If I have memory errors (I have had them), I realize that it could be the module itself...it could the combination of modules...it could be slots...it could be timing of the modules...it could be the bus clock speed...it could just be a motherboard issue or a power supply issue.

It could even have been a hard drive problem, I suppose.

<<But no matter what, I couldn't boot Windows after that, so I had to reformat the drive.>>

Does that mean that the system works properly today, right now...with 1 RAM module and your reformatted hard drive?

Have you powered the system off today...to see if it will reboot properly?

FWIW: Many things can cause Windows not to boot properly. The fact that you initially stated that you had received more than one BSOD...could have indicated malware, hardware, operating system, or driver issues. I guess we'll never know...if your solution to the situation solved anything that needed solving...until time goes by.

<<Why did one stick of bad ram trash my windows install, when the computer was off of all times?>>

More assumptions that haven't been proven. But, let's assume that you line of thought is correct.

The fact that the system does not boot properly doesn't indicate that Windows has been trashed or needs to be reinstalled. Many of us have had such occur at some time...and the cure did not necessarily involve reinstalling Windows.

Damaged files happen all the time. If a user is lucky, the file is replaced easily or remains unknown until it's called into action (and fails).

By doing a reformat/reinstall...you have replaced all system files, which includes any single file which may have prevented booting. If your system continues to run well (have you tried to reinstall the RAM module you removed?), then reinstalling cured your system.

I've never known a reinstall to cure RAM problems. I would install both RAM modules and run Memtest86+ in various configurations...before I ever thought about replacing a module.

Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool - http://www.memtest.org/#downiso

Diagnose with Memtest86+ - http://icrontic.com/articles/diagnose_with_memtest86

Basic principles when using: MemTest Manual - http://hcidesign.com/memtest/manual.html

<<And is it possible that I have a mobo issue...>>

Of course, it's possible...that's why you should do diagnostic testing and try various premises...before assuming the worst. If it is the worst, we will get there soon enough.

Louis

#3 setasdefault

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 11:24 AM

Thank you for the candid and helpful response, hamluis. I have new information about the problem.

-With only the one "good stick" in the machine, and after having reformatted, windows runs as usual.
-With only the "good stick" in the machine, memtest86 finds no memory errors. (I neglected to mention in my first post that I downloaded memtest yesterday and used it before deciding to reformat).
-The "good stick" is in slot A (the slot that the "bad stick" used to sit in), and memtest still doesn't find any errors, and windows is running as usual

Today when I added the bad stick back in, I had to try rebooting several times before I could run memtest (I was getting errors that said "no user memory available"), and memtest reported errors all throughout the ram.

EDIT: Although Windows is currently running fine on the one "good stick", it would not boot in this same configuration before the reformat.

Edited by setasdefault, 05 August 2009 - 12:42 PM.


#4 hamluis

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 12:43 PM

Seems conclusive to me :thumbsup:.

Now...you can buy RAM from any number of sources...but I suggest that you take a look at www.crucial.com and their memory configurator, just to ensure that you know the specs/limitations, etc. for RAM that will do the job in your system.

http://www.crucial.com/

And wherever you buy the RAM, be sure to read the terms for returning/RMA, etc.

Louis

#5 setasdefault

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 08:22 PM

Thanks for the link. Just out of curiosity...how can I tell that my mobo is not damaging ram?

#6 hamluis

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 08:40 AM

IMO...you cannot.

AFAIK, troubleshooting motherboard issues is often a process of elimination...if everything else checks out (by substitution) as working, then the finger often points to the motherboard as the key item needing attention.

At least...that's the way that I approach it.

But, let's wait for inputs from those who have seen/repaired a lot more systems than I have in my journey in Computerland :thumbsup:.

Louis




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