Your computer BIOS will give you an
error code when you start your system or it will give you a beep code depending
on the manufacture and bios publisher.
The only thing you have to discern is if
you have more than one RAM module in the system, two or more modules and you
will have to troubleshoot them by removing all but one and then put them back in
one at a time to find the failed module.
When Troubleshooting Memory errors Observe ESD!
Soft memory errors are harder to
detect and troubleshoot. The problems run the gambit of problems. From unable to
write to the hard drive, system lockups, programs hanging, or extremely slow
Normally any of the above problems would point to a specific device but after
troubleshooting the device, say a hard drive, and find that the device is not at
fault then you would look at the memory.
To find a soft memory error some BIOS programs have an advanced feature you
can turn on (the one that comes to mind is the IBM ThinkPad series of computers)
called advance diagnostics. It will show any boot time (POST - Power
On Self Test) errors that occur and
will do a test of the physical RAM (Random Access Memory) in the system.
It is rarely used in systems that have a large amount of ram because the test
can take up to five minutes or more to run. If you suspect a memory problem this
is the best way to find out if one of the RAM modules is failing or is having a
problem that would not cause a hard error when booting the system.
The Windows Operating System's System Information is some what helpful but it
is not conclusive, it only lists memory ranges for system drivers, if the error
is not in the range that the system drivers are loaded into this is of little or
no use. The event viewer will list system errors if the program running can pass
on the error to the event notification driver (and if it is enabled!).
If you suspect that you are experiencing a soft memory error check the event
log for errors. You will have to search Microsoft's web site for information to
decode the error, they are quite cryptic.
Troubleshoot, repair, maintain, upgrade & secure...
For soft memory errors there are programs that will test memory while the
system is running. The programs that run in the Windows environment are not that
reliable unless they come from the motherboard manufacture.
Those that run in DOS are very reliable because they can access the
hardware directly where as in a more complex Operating Systems like Windows NT
through Windows 7 / 8 /10 the hardware layer is not accusable by user programs.
In conclusion hard memory errors will show when the system boots. Soft memory
errors will be harder to find and diagnose.
The best way to test for soft memory errors is with a test program from
DOS. This means you will have to get the program and then have a DOS boot