7 Symptoms of Bad RAM: How to Check with These FREE Tools

Symptoms of Bad RAM Some of the symptoms of bad RAM are a sluggish system. Memory-intensive applications, like games run slowly. Or maybe there’s not enough RAM for the amount of data you’re storing.

It could just be that your memory modules are old and simply need to be replaced. Maybe your system issues aren’t RAM related at all.

As you can see, RAM can be one of the more elusive pieces of hardware on your computer to isolate as the source of any technical issues.

Before you start digging around to replace sticks of RAM unnecessarily. We’ll show you 7 different symptoms of bad RAM. As well as 6 ways to tell if the ram is bad with some FREE tools.


Symptoms of Bad RAM


If you want actionable tips that will help you:

  • determine if you need to purchase new sticks of RAM
  • see what else those seemingly bad RAM related issues could be
  • use the system diagnostic tools already on your computer to check faulty ram
  • and, get FREE tools you can download from the internet to check if the RAM is faulty

We’d love to help you answer these questions in this article.

MUST READ: The Intel Core-i9 Processor

(Keep an eye out for helpful PRO TIPS along the way.)

The 7 Symptoms of Bad Ram 

1. Diminishing Performance

Your system boots up normally. But during the course of the day, performance slows down to a crawl.

If this persists, and you’re not running any apps. It could be one of the symptoms of bad RAM.

PRO TIP #1: This could also be the result of a memory intensive app slowing down overall system performance.

2. Random Reboots

This isn’t always an indication of a RAM issue.

It could be signs that your hard drive or SSD is going bad. If it happens immediately after your computer initializes, however, this could be one of the bad ram symptoms.

3. BSoD (Blue Screen of Death)

BSoD (Blue Screen of Death)

This one is simple. One of the symptoms of bad RAM is when the display goes blue. And you  even get some flashing error messages.

PRO TIP #2: Again, this could just be the result of a resource heavy app your trying to open monopolizing the system memory.

4. Corrupted Files

When one or more of the files you recently opened can’t be accessed anymore. It’s an iron-clad sign that your RAM is on the brink of total failure.

PRO TIP #3: It’s important to act fast on this one because soon, you won’t even be able to boot your machine.


5. Graphics Card Fails to Load

Here’s one of the symptoms of bad RAM to pay particularly close attention to as you will either get a series of audible ‘beeps’. Or the lack there of, depending on your system.


Mac users will hear 3 successive beeps signifying a RAM error has been detected.



MicrosoftPC users will almost always hear a single beep, signifying the computer’s video and media hardware have been recognized and booted.

It’s the absence of these beeps on a Windows system that signals bad RAM.

PRO TIP #4: Different computer manufacturers have different beep codes. Not all of them signify RAM issues.

Indiana University has kindly put together a list of the most common BIOS start tones for PCs and Macs to assist us all.

6. Attempts to Install a New Program Fail

Then, you try to reinstall the operating system. But receive error messages. This could definitely be one of the symptoms of bad RAM.

PRO TIP #5: There  could be a number of other reasons for this, too.

7. Incorrect Amount of System RAM Displayed

Here is a possible solution for: Windows.

And, here’s a possible solution for: Macs.

System Memory

How to Check Faulty RAM 

The symptoms of bad RAM can cause all kinds of problems for your laptop. Here’s how to diagnose the storage modules before buying new ones.

1. How is RAM being used in your computer

First thing you want to do is find out how much RAM your system is using, and how each programming is using it.

a. Find out how much RAM you’re using

View your total RAM and the amount in use by clicking This PC. Then choose Properties. This should provide you with the numerical data of RAM usage.

Total RAM should be between 256MB and 64GB (the number will be more or less depending on the power of your system).

You should be using less than half the total amount of RAM for optimal system performance.

b. Find out how much RAM each program you’re running is using

Enter Ctrl + Alt + Delete simultaneously on your keyboard to open the Windows Task Manager.

Click the Performance tab to see how much RAM each program your running is using. If one program appears to be using more RAM than the others, close or delete it to see if that solves the problem.

2. Run the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool

Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool

Windows comes with its own memory diagnostic tool to help you check if ram is bad.

Here’s how to run the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool to check the memory for errors.

STEP 1: Open the Start Menu and type: mdsched.exe, and press enter.

STEP 2: You should receive a Pop-Up asking if you’d like to check the memory now, or the next time you reboot. (Select the option that works best for you.)

STEP 3: Your computer will load a progress screen showing you the number of passes the program will run on the RAM. Watch the tool for errors. If there are no errors, then the fault is not with RAM.

3. Other FREE tools to help you investigate symptoms of bad RAM

Download MemTest86 or MemTest86+ from the Internet

Depending on how much RAM is installed on your laptop. Or how severe the symptoms of bad RAM are, this can take several hours to complete.

  1. Download the (FREE) version and burn it on a CD or USB Memory stick.
  2. Reboot your computer using either the CD or Memory stick. (The utility should immediately load and start running.)
  3. Configure the MemTest86 to do a deep testing and multiple loops.
  4. Let it run and log results for as long as possible (overnight).
  5. When examining the log, note the addresses where errors occurred.

If the errors occur at the same or nearby addresses, it’s very likely that the RAM is defective.

If the errors seem to occur at random addresses, more than likely the problem is related to power supply or higher than normal operating temperatures.

Higher system temperatures could be the result of running resource heavy programs, like gaming or graphics programs which run the CPU and video card flat out.

4. Use a Simple RAM Speed Test Tool

(We have no affiliation with any of these companies what so ever.)

You can use them now to investigate symptoms of bad RAM by clicking on the image or name of the tool, which will take you to the website where you can download the tool.




Maxxmem2 is a freeware app for the Windows operating system designed to help you measure memory performance.




AIDA64 uses a set of 64-bit benchmarks to measure how fast your computer performs various data processing tasks to analyze system RAM bandwidth.



Geekbench 4



Geekbench 4 measures your hardware’s power to give you the strength of your computer system.




5. Make sure the RAM stick is properly seated in the motherboard

This will require you to open your laptop to access the RAM sticks, which are situated on the motherboard.

With your laptop Shutdown. On the bottom side should be an access hatch. Once you’ve opened it. Make sure the memory modules are tightly secured to the motherboard.

If they are not, this could be the reason why you’re experiencing system memory issues.

PRO TIP #6: If you are unable to locate the hatch, there should be instructions on how to access the RAM module either with the instructions that came with your laptop. Or you can go online to find the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Remove a stick of RAM to see if the functionality of the laptop changes

This will help you identify the memory stick causing Bad ram symptoms that needs to be replaced.

First: With your laptop turned off. Gently pull out the stick of RAM.

Second: Then turn on your laptop and check to see if the numbers change like we did in the first process.

Third: If it did, the memory module you pulled was probably faulty, and should be replaced.

Finally: If nothing changed, switch the places of the sticks of RAM and repeat these steps.

PRO TIP #7: You can usually easily fix issues with RAM by re-seating the memory sticks. Or switching the slots in which the sticks of RAM sitting in.

But if this doesn’t help. You may need a replacement stick of RAM.

Do You Have Bad RAM

Fortunately, RAM is one of the least expensive pieces of hardware to replace on your computer. Pick up a stick of 16GB DDR4 RAM for your laptop on Amazon for $138.

Melanie Pinola from Laptopmag.com has a great step-by-step on how to upgrade the RAM on your laptop.

Daniel S. Evans provides a tutorial on how to upgrade the Memory on your desktop.


Congratulations for making it to the end of this article. We hope this information helps you identify the tell-tale symptoms of bad RAM. It’s smarter to find out what the problem could be before spending money, and doing work you don’t have to.

Finding yourself in any scenario where your computer isn’t acting the way it should is scary. Especially if you have a lot of important data stored on the system. The important thing is to take immediate action once you notice your computer is showing symptoms of bad RAM.

We’d love to continue this conversation with you about the symptoms of bad RAM in the comments section below. What RAM issues have you run into with your computer? And how did you resolve it?

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