How to Run Windows Diagnostic Memory on Your PC

Having memory problems? Use the Windows Diagnostic Memory Tool to determine whether you're experiencing hardware problems or software issues. Not sure how it works? These easy tips will get you started.

Find Hardware Issues
With all the viruses and spyware out there today, it can be challenging to determine whether you're experiencing hardware problems or software problems when your computer performance suffers. Windows Diagnostic Memory runs a series of tests on your RAM, telling you if you're experiencing hardware issues. From there, you can determine whether you need to replace your RAM or take steps to solve software problems.

If you're in your operating system normally, you can run the diagnostic tool directly from Vista. Start by going to the Control Panel, and select the Administrative Tools icon. The Memory Diagnostic Tool is in the list, and you simply double-click it to run it. Alternately, you can type "memory" in the search box on the Vista start menu, and a link to the diagnostic tool appears. Simply click it, and the tool loads.

RAM Test.
When you load the Windows Diagnostic Memory tool, you have the option of restarting your computer immediately to run the diagnostic or setting the program to run when you restart later. The diagnostic runs before the operating system loads. If you are already restarting your computer and want to run the diagnostic tool, you can hit spacebar before Vista loads to get into the Windows Boot Manager. Tab down to highlight the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, and hit Enter to select it.

Select a Testing Mode
The default Windows Diagnostic Memory testing mode is Standard. If you want to make changes to the way the diagnostic tool runs, you can press the F1 key to enter the option screen. You then have the option to select Basic diagnostics, Standard diagnostics or Extended diagnostics, and choose whether to disable or enable the cache. You can also decide to run the test more than the default of two if you want to be thorough and ensure you catch any errors.

Testing Takes Time
If you're not satisfied with the Standard tests and want to run Extended tests multiple times, you might want to run the tests overnight. Extended testing with the Windows Diagnostic Memory Tool is quite lengthy, and the more times you run it, the longer the runtime takes. You should not force your computer to shut down during the tests, as that negates the effectiveness of the tests and can potentially cause a series of errors. Set the tests to run when you won't need to use the computer to avoid getting frustrated.

When the diagnostic tool is finished, Vista boots regularly and the results are displayed in the lower-right-hand corner of your desktop. In the best-case scenario, the test says no problems are found and you're left to figure out the software performance issues. However, if you do have a faulty memory module, the diagnostic tool attempts to determine where the problem is and tells you if it is able to isolate the error.

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