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Windows Memory Diagnostic Errors


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#1 caolas

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 06:06 PM

I'm running Windows XP SP2 on a 3-year old PC, which was fine until about 6 months ago. Since then I've been having blue-screen crash problems. There seems to be no pattern to them. Sometimes the PC runs fine for long periods - ie weeks - at a time. But then there'll be days when I can't even get the thing to start, not even to beep at POST. Most often it'll run for an hour or two and then crash. Doesn't seem to make any difference what I'm running at the time.

I've tried disconnecting soundcard, optical drives etc but that's not made a difference. Nor has upgrading the PSU. Most recently I've tried testing the PC's RAM with "Windows Memory Diagnostic" (WMD), downloaded from the Microsoft site. I ran the standard tests and got strange results: on Pass 2 the WINVC test found 3177 errors; on Pass 14 WINVC found another 88062. All other tests, over 36 passes, came up clear. But then on Pass 37 the PC hung with a "Trap 00000006 Exception" and that was that.

Can anyone tell me based on this whether replacing my RAM would be a sensible next move? Or is it more likely to be a motherboard problem? Or is there something else I can do to narrow it down?

Thanks.

Caolas

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#2 nforce

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 12:42 AM

With the tests, I think the ram would be a very sensible next move. But first, I would use "memtest86". I would think it would test the ram better that microsofts tool. (If memtest says you have evil ram...then you have evil ram) But I would need a second opinion on this.

Another consideration would be overheating. That can also cause random bluescreens, but since you can sometimes get it to run for weeks, this probably isn't the case.

There are many reasons something like this could happen. I would also try switching out the video card, try different ram (if you have some availible), update motherboard bios, and if worse comes to worse, reinstall windows(could be a virus or registry problem?)

If you do buy ram and it doesn't fix it, hey, you have more ram ;)

#3 caolas

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 04:05 PM

Thanks. I ran memteset86 today while I was out at work. When I got home it had gone completely haywire, indicating no errors but claiming to be completing passes at the rate of about 10 a second. So I've tried it again this evening, and after 9 passes it's clear - all except for 22 errors on pass 4. But I guess 22 errors is 22 too many? So it does sound like I need to get myself a new memory card, then? I'll get myself down to the shops tomorrow.

Here's hoping that's what it is, and not a problem with the socket, or something else on the motherboard.

Thanks for your help.

Caolas

#4 usasma

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 09:45 AM

It depends - are 22 errors acceptable when you're balancing your checkbook?

Also, I'm concerned the memtest went haywire on you - it is a very stable program that I've used a lot and have never seen this behavior with it. This leads me to wonder if there's a hardware error causing this.

There's several things that you can try:
1) Ensure that the system is properly cooled and that there's no overheating of any of the components
2) Reset the BIOS to default values
3) Strip the system down to the basics needed to run memtest and then run it again
4) Try the remaining components, one by one, in another system to see if they cause errors there.
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#5 caolas

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 01:51 PM

Thanks. 22 errors when I try to balance my cheque book would be a record...minimum.

I'm pretty sure it's not an overheating problem, because it sometimes happens immediately when I switch the PC on from cold. Also, I've run system monitors such as Everest which don't seem to show any untoward temperatures.

This morning I disconnected everything except the PSU, motherboard, graphics card and memory. Then I set memtest86 running. After 2 hours it had done the same "haywire" thing as before. Trying it again now. Assuming it breaks down again I'll try resetting the BIOS to default values and see if that makes any difference.

I suppose I should also try updating the BIOS?

Caolas

#6 usasma

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 08:44 PM

Try the reset first. Flashing the BIOS is a last resort because it's so easy to mess up the system.

Electricity travels at the speed of light - and only a little is needed to heat up a hair thin trace and make it break a connection. Then, when the current goes off (because of the break), the hair thin trace will cool down and make contact - then the cycle starts all over again! But that's pretty hard to diagnose using the tools that we have!

The memtest program travels the same path that other programs use. So it's not just the memory that's involved in the test (although the memory tester folks have done a lot of work to ensure that this doesn't happen). Say, for example, there was a speck of dirt on one of the memory contacts that partly prevented that contact from connecting - wouldn't that mimic a memory error?

What I'm saying is that the memory test is the best test that we've got for evaluating your memory - but there is a possibility (a very small one) that it may be something else. But, it's sure enough that replacing RAM for errors that are found is the most reasonable course to take.
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- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#7 Mr Alpha

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 02:06 AM

Memory errors can result from problems with the CPU, motherboard, memory-controller or PSU as well.
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#8 caolas

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 02:27 PM

Interesting...I did the BIOS reset, rebooted and started Memtest86 going. 36 hours later, it's still running fine, and hasn't found any memory errors either.

John - out of interest, what made you suggest resetting the BIOS? If that does turn out to have been the problem, I'm intrigued to know what incorrect setting might have caused the sort of symptoms I've been seeing.

Anyway, I'll try reconnecting the hard drive and letting Windows run for a while.

Thanks for the help. I'll let you know what happens.

Caolas

#9 usasma

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 07:43 AM

2 clues:
1) the weird behavior of memtest
2) your mention about flashing the BIOS

Memtest is an amazingly stable program. If it doesn't work right, there's gotta be something (other than bad RAM) that's causing it to mess up.

And, the most critical part of troubleshooting is getting the essential information from the person we're working with. For some reason the BIOS flash popped into your head - so I suggested a less dangerous alternative before you proceeded with the flash.

As for which setting it was, I don't have a clue! It could have been almost any setting in the BIOS since it was throwing the memory off. Most likely it was one of the memory settings, but that's just guessing.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#10 caolas

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 05:15 PM

Just thought I'd close this out. PC's been running fine for two weeks now. No blue screens, no start-up problems, no problems full stop. So either it's going to collapse on me tomorrow and it's just been watiting until I posted this; or else that BIOS reset did the trick. Either way, thanks folks.

Caolas




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