It may be necessary to download Memtest86 and test RAM on your computer if you’re experiencing problems such as sudden reboots or blue screen errors that lock up your system. Newer versions of Windows have their own memory diagnostic utility, but if you’re running an earlier version of the Microsoft Operating System, such as Windows XP, you will need to download a third-party application to perform this test. We prefer Memtest86, a free program that can be downloaded and run during the boot cycle of your computer.
Download Memtest86 from here. Scroll down about midway and look for the section that says Download (Pre-Built And ISOs). You will likely want the .zip version. Click the link and save the application to a location where you can easily find it. Unzip the file and locate the .ISO image of Memtest86. Next, create the bootable .ISO disk using your computer’s burning software. You will need a blank CD or DVD and.
Important: follow your software’s instruction for creating a .ISO disk. Simply copying the program to disk will not work, as this application needs to be bootable in order for it to launch.
The above example was created using ImgBurn, which you can download here. Once the .ISO disk has been created, you are ready to boot to the disk. Insert the disk in the CD / DVD drive and reboot the computer. If the computer boots into Windows, you will need to change the Boot Sequence of your computer. This is done in the computer’s BIOS settings. Your BIOS looks for a bootable disk based on its settings. Typically, this will be set to the hard drive first, as most people boot to the hard drive. On the rare occasion you need to boot to a different location, like a USB, DVD or network drive, you need to change the setting in the BIOS so the computer knows where to look for a bootable disk.
How To Change A Computer’s Boot Sequence
The process for changing a computer’s boot sequence is pretty straight-forward. You will start the computer and tap the key that launches the computer’s BIOS setup. This key might be ESC, F1, F2, F10 or Delete. Most computer’s will flash a message on the screen during boot that tells you which key to press to access the BIOS, so pay attention. In addition, if you’re using a laptop you may need to press and hold the (fn) key while tapping the corresponding BIOS setup key to access the BIOS.
Once in the BIOS, look for an entry that says something similar to Boot Sequence. Select the CDROM (CD / DVD) option, then press F10 to save and exit. The computer will reboot and should launch the CD you have in the optical drive’s tray.
The RAM test will begin once the ISO image is burned and the PC is booted to the appropriate disk.
The test should run for several hours depending on how many passes you want the test to make and how much memory you have installed. You can let the test run overnight. If the memory reports errors, replace the memory. Faulty memory can result in computer crashes and corruption of your computer’s hard drive contents.
Another method for testing your computer’s RAM is to download Memtest86 to a USB stick. You can download their USB auto installer from the same location as the ISO image. The only difference is you will need to set the BIOS boot sequence to look at the USB drive first, not the CD drive or hard disk. Insert the USB into an available USB port on your computer, then boot up your PC. The program will launch when the BIOS finds the USB drive.
Windows 7 Memory Test
While you can run the Memtest86 program on a Windows Vista and Windows 7 computer, those Operating Systems come with their own memory diagnostic program already installed. You can access the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool by going to Start and typing memory into the search box. You can also get there by accessing the Admin Tools area of the control panel. If you’re not logged in as admin, you will be asked to submit your password before continuing.
You will then be presented with the option to restart your computer to begin the test or begin the test the next time you boot your PC. When your PC restarts, the diagnostic tool will begin and present you with a few test options: Basic, Standard and Extended. The Standard test is selected by default. Choose the type of test and how many times you want it to run and the diagnostic tool will begin.
If you have any questions about how to run a memory diagnostic on your computer, join our free forums and ask!