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How to troubleshoot RAM on Linux

The best way to troubleshoot RAM chips connected to a PC is with a Linux tool known as Memtest86. It scans the connected RAM chips and can determine the health of them. In this guide, we will show you how to use Memtest86 to troubleshoot your RAM.

Getting Memtest86

Memtest86 comes with quite a few Linux live disks (like Ubuntu). Because the tool comes on so many Linux live disks, there isn’t a long, drawn-out installation process if you want to test the health of your RAM chips. Just download a compatible live Linux ISO, flash it to a USB stick, and go!

In this guide, we will be going over how to gain access to Memtest86 via the latest version of Ubuntu Linux. However, if you are not a fan of Linux, feel free to try out other operating systems, as they probably have Memtest86 included as well.

To get the latest release of Ubuntu Linux, head over to Ubuntu.com/desktop, and click on the green “Download Ubuntu” button. Then, scroll down and download the most recent Non-LTS ISO of Ubuntu to your computer.

Once the latest Ubuntu ISO file is done downloading on your Linux PC, follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to set up the live USB.

Step 1: Creating a live USB ISO on Linux requires an ISO burning tool. There are many great tools out there, but by far, the best one to use is Etcher. Head over to Etcher.io, and download the latest version of the app to your PC, start it up.

Step 2: Find the “Select Image” button in the Etcher application, and click it with the mouse to bring up the open-file browser.

Step 3: With the open-file browser open in Etcher, use it to find the Ubuntu ISO file you downloaded to your computer previously, and select it with the mouse.

Step 4: After loading the Ubuntu ISO file into Etcher, plug in your USB flash drive into the computer’s USB port. Then, find the “select drive” button and click on it with the mouse.

Step 5: Upon clicking the “select drive” button, use the pop-up UI in Etcher to select your USB flash drive.

Step 6: Locate the “Flash!” button, and click it with the mouse to start the ISO burning process. Please be patient during this process! It may take a long time, especially if you have a slow USB port!

When the ISO burning process is complete, reboot your PC into the BIOS and configure it to boot directly from the USB flash drive.

Note: remember, all computer BIOS systems are different. If you do not understand how to make your BIOS boot from USB, read the manual. It will outline how to access boot settings so you can load up the Ubuntu ISO.

Accessing Memtest86 in the Ubuntu live disk

Now that the Ubuntu live USB is made, we must go over how to access Memtest86 on it. Follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: As soon as the Ubuntu live USB boots up on your PC, press the ESC button. Selecting this button will instantly stop the booting process of the live disk and show you an Ubuntu menu.

Please note that on UEFI/Secure boot computer systems, you will not see a purple boot menu upon pressing the ESC button, and will not be able to access the “test memory” option. This is due to the UEFI version of Ubuntu not supporting Memtest86. You must reboot your PC and load the Ubuntu USB with “Legacy mode.” For more information on “Legacy mode,” please check your computer’s manual.

Step 2: Locate the “test memory” option in the menu, and select it with arrow keys on the keyboard. Then, press the Enter key to load up the Memtest86 program in the Ubuntu live USB.

Then, once loaded up, the program will instantly start looking through your RAM to test it. Sit back and be patient for the tests to complete. When it is done, it will inform you if your RAM is working, or if errors were found at the bottom of the screen.

Selecting individual tests

Need to do more testing on your RAM? Do the following.

Step 1: Press the button on the keyboard to reveal the Memtest86 program menu. By pressing C, the program will show various options that you can execute to find out errors in your computer RAM.

Step 2: In the program menu, there are seven options. These options are “test Selection,” “Address Range,” “Error Report Mode,” “Core Selection,” “Refresh Screen,” “Display DMI Data,” and “Display SPD Data”.

Find the “Test Selection” option in the menu, and press one on the number row. Then, press 3 to bring up the test selection screen.

Step 3: There are 11 individual memory tests available. Enter a selection (from 1 – 11) to test your RAM.

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