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Thread: does RAM just go bad?

  1. #1

    does RAM just go bad?

    ok, so out of the blue my Dell Dimension 8400 gives me a nasty error at startup... something to the effect of "failed at checkpoint ITHR" and freezes on that screen.

    I googled that error and found a bunch of potential causes and fixes. None of the easy ones (like replacing the battery or removing all USB devices) worked. On the more complex end, it seems that this error could be caused by bad RAM.

    I bought the computer 4 years ago from Dell with 22 factory installed 512 sticks and just a few months ago threw in 2 more 1GB sticks purchased from eBay (and guaranteed to be compatible).

    I pulled out the 2 1GB sticks and went back to the original setup. This time when booting, I got the Blue Screen of Death. I tried putting the 1GB sticks back in to reproduce the 1st error but now I cannot get anything but the BSOD.

    It does not seem to matter how the sticks are arranged or which ones I have in. Each stick/slot is always recognized in BIOS and the error is always the same.

    I called Dell tech support, who after taking me through the same excercises I did on my own, told me that either ALL of my RAM went bad at once or that it was a software problem and that I needed to reformat the hard drive. So my options are either reformat first and wipe out all of my applications that took about 5 hours to install and then if that doesn't resolve it buy and install new RAM or buy new RAM first and if that doesn't resolve it, proceed to reformat. I'm not really crazy about either option.

    I find it hard to believe that each stick of RAM went bad all at once. Does that happen? especially if BIOS can see it....

    Any other suggestions for troubleshooting before I break down and start reformatting?

    *************************************************************
    *** c4/c5 incomplete *** Injured in Summer 2003 ***
    *************************************************************

  2. #2
    If your ram shows up in BIOS then it is working, all your ram will not go bad all at once but it is very possible for a stick or two to go bad but if it went bad it would not be showing up in BIOS. I would just back up and reinstall, it's really not that big of a deal and sometimes just needs to be done. The joy of windowz!
    Dave
    C5/C6 complete
    http://www.davegrotzinger.com
    http://www.daves-webdesign.com

    "I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me guaranteed..." - Eddie Vedder

  3. #3
    RAM can definitely go bad. In some cases when RAM goes bad you will hear a series of beeps. I don't know what your time is worth but I would reformat. Buying and then returning new RAM if it has already been opened may not be so easy.

    Once upon a time..

    Test Your RAM for Free
    By Scott Moschella

    Memtest86 is a free RAM-diagnostic tool that'll help breathe new life into your system.

    The Screen Savers
    Rock bottom is relative to how high you bounce when you hit.
    --General George Patton

    Complex problems need to be solved collectively.
    ––Paul Nussbaum
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by PN
    RAM can definitely go bad. In some cases when RAM goes bad you will hear a series of beeps. I don't know what your time is worth but I would reformat. Buying and then returning new RAM if it has already been opened may not be so easy.

    Once upon a time..

    Test Your RAM for Free
    By Scott Moschella

    Memtest86 is a free RAM-diagnostic tool that'll help breathe new life into your system.

    The Screen Savers
    If all his ram did go bad at once the computer wouldn't even start let alone show up in BIOS, to me the only answer is reformat.
    Dave
    C5/C6 complete
    http://www.davegrotzinger.com
    http://www.daves-webdesign.com

    "I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me guaranteed..." - Eddie Vedder

  5. #5
    Senior Member NorthQuad's Avatar
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    I just bought an hp yesterday because my 4 year old Dell wouldn't even turn on anymore. Would replacing the RAM fix the problem most likely?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by dgrotz
    If all his ram did go bad at once the computer wouldn't even start let alone show up in BIOS, to me the only answer is reformat.
    We are on the same page.

    Thanks!
    Rock bottom is relative to how high you bounce when you hit.
    --General George Patton

    Complex problems need to be solved collectively.
    ––Paul Nussbaum
    usc87.blogspot.com

  7. #7
    Senior Member Andy's Avatar
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    You can BSOD if you have some bad cells in an otherwise checked as ok by BIOS memory.

    Anyway, make a bootable CD, thumb drive, floppy, etc with memtest (alternate link with pre-compiled versions here). If it can pass for a few hours, it should be good, but memtest can be fooled too, but it should be a good enough test to boot Windows. If that TOK and you want to reload Windows, you dont have to reformat, just boot off the Windows DVD and press F8 and select a 'repair installation', that wont blow out your hard drive, just reinstall Windows.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Even if you need to reformat, you might look at removing your HD, placing it in another computer and copying your files onto another drive as a windows backup file. After you reformat your computer, assuming it works ok, you can use the backup file to regain the files that you want to save.
    mike

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by NorthQuad
    I just bought an hp yesterday because my 4 year old Dell wouldn't even turn on anymore. Would replacing the RAM fix the problem most likely?
    If it is the ram you will hear a series of beeps when you press the power button, if you hear nothing and nothing happens it may be your power supply.
    Dave
    C5/C6 complete
    http://www.davegrotzinger.com
    http://www.daves-webdesign.com

    "I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me guaranteed..." - Eddie Vedder

  10. #10
    i did run memtest86 and everything passed.

    i decided to suck it up and reformat but upon booting from my XP CD, just as the "starting windows" message is displayed, I get the same BSOD.

    are there any other diagnostics i can run (similar to memtest86) without having to boot windows that might give me some further insight?

    *************************************************************
    *** c4/c5 incomplete *** Injured in Summer 2003 ***
    *************************************************************

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