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Memtest86 finds over 7500 errors in 30 minutes

Posted on 2010-08-25
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OK, this is starting to get too weird. Starting from today's issue, the reception computer just went to a BSOD. I have all of the error messages written down, most of them addresses or grops of numbers. I just rebooted, and it booted to CHKDSK, which showed no hard drive errors.

I then ran Memtest, and it was fine for around three minutes, then immediately starting finding errors at such a rate that if I ran it for hours, I am sure it would have gotten into the hundreds of thousands of errors. As it was, since we needed to get back to work, I stopped it, and the computer immediately booted into Windows.

I have attached a print screen of four windows of CPU-Z. The reason this is weird is because, I have a network of a server with 7 computers for three years, and I have had no issues. Now, I have had three computers show a BSOD. Two for RAM issues and one for a failing hard drive. The first one was a failing hard drive on the triage computer. After troubleshooting it extensively, CHKDSK showed multiple errors in multiple sectors. Changing the hard drive seemed to fix that issue. I then got a series of error messages running on the black screen in BIOS on the room 1 computer. This revealed eight errors in Memtest86. Crucial had recommended Ballistix memory modules which were supposedly compatible with the motherboard, but Gary C. thought otherwise. Removing one stick (either one) allowed the computer to run. I ordered two new RAM sticks from Kingston, and installed them yesterday, and there have been no problems.

Now today, I get the error mentioned above which showed more than 7500 errors which I stopped. I haven't had an error since then. I am rather certain this computer has the same RAM modules that were on room 1.

I guess I am not sure why RAM that is not compatible due to voltage would work for six months and then start having issues the same week.

One thing that may be important to note is that the reception computer which is having the problem had a trojan on it about three weeks ago. This was removed with MBAM and ComboFix indicated everything was fine. I doubt it could have done any of this. And, I checked every computer with MBAM and SuperAnti-Spyware. Plus ESET is always running.

So, in summary, within the last three weeks:

Reception PC: Trojan -- successfully removed with MBAM

Triage PC: BSOD -- hard drive failure fixed with a new hard drive

Room 1 PC: Error showing black screen with statement that BIOS was not working and a continuous cycle of Can't Find CD-ROM, Can't Find Floppy, Can't Find CD-ROM, over and over, etc. This was fixed with two new 1GB sticks of RAM after memtest86 showed errors in RAM

Reception PC: BSOD -- memtest86 shows greater than 7500 error messages. Running OK with the same setup, but obviously, it is going to crash again.

So, should I just replace this RAM also? Do you think any or all of these events are linked? Given I do not know anything about testing RAM, are 7500 error messages worse than 8? CPU-Z Memory 4 Views
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Question by:Bert2005
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jamietoner earned 250 total points
ID: 33527051
Usually if ram is failing Memtest it's either bad or overheating(pass's tests when cool but fails when hot) If the memory has been replaced and the replacement memory is also failing then it's either a bad dimm or a bad memory controller. I doubt these issues are related, most likely just coincidence. With memory test(in my book) 1 error= replace ram, but memory with 8 errors you might be able to run the system for a bit while awaiting a replacement but with 7500 this is a lot less likely. Also running ram below it's designed voltage can damage the memory, it may take awhile but it does happen.
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by:TheAntiGeek
ID: 33527066
When it rains it pours.  I would replace the ram.  You booted from a memtest86 boot disk and found the errors outside of the windows environment.  There is no way a Virus or malware can cause this so it is not related to your issue with the reception PC.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33527086
Thanks jamietoner and AntiGeek,

Two questions: Why would I replace RAM with one error, but run the system with eight hours while awaiting replacement?

As you can tell, I know nothing about memtest86 except for how to burn the CD from the .iso and boot from it. Does the amount of errors have any correlation with how bad the RAM is?
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33527212
This is the memory which was recommended to me for the room 1 computer based on similar specs. According to the motherboard and other info from the CPU-Z I supplied, does the following memory compatible?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820144157
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by:Reece Dodds
ID: 33527521
that RAM recommended is compatible, but dated.  Try a Corsiar ValueSelect kit or a newer Kingston kit.
Your Mainboard and CPU will limit the RAM to 533, but 667 and 800 RAM will still work fine.
Just a suggestion... if you find that different ram modules are also showing errors in MemTest, try a different Power Supply.  Slightly incorrect voltages or voltage drops under load can lead you on a wild goose chase and in TWCS, damage RAM permanently.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33527650
Thanks reecem27,

I guess if it just happened once, I would chalk it up to RAM. But, like it has been said above, it's probably coincidence. I'm trying to remember because I added RAM in February. Each of the seven computers had 1GB. I got really good advice from someone who knows (definitely). But, the RAM was out of stock. I remember finding something I thought was similar. I can't recall if he checked it. Must not have. It was the Ballistix stuff (not that I have given all the specs).

So, maybe what is happening, since Gary thought it was due to voltage issues on the last computer is the memory should have been 2.0 instead of 1.8 or whatever, but worked because the PSU was working better. Maybe now,  they are both off a little. I suppose adding a PSU can't hurt.

By the way, to ask my question again, the memtest86 is now at 147,000 +. I think I have learned that one error is enough to question it, but is a higher number worse?
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by:jamietoner
ID: 33527683
Yes, more is worse. The ram in your link would work but is slower than what you currently have installed. I would go with one of these.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148163
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134635
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145098
Also the Crucial ram that currently installed should have a lifetime warranty, I'd contact Crucial to get it replaced, you could upgrade another machine to 4gb or keep the ram as spare parts just in case.
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by:Reece Dodds
Reece Dodds earned 100 total points
ID: 33527727
this one's progressing nicely!  

If you have time, you could also PROVE it is the RAM by running the MemTest with the 'suspect' RAM in another known good PC (one that passes MemTest for more than 10 cycles without error with it's own RAM).
This will rule in - or out - the RAM.
If the 'suspect' RAM passes in a different system, you definately have a mainboard or power supply issue.
Good luck.
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by:garycase
garycase earned 150 total points
ID: 33527796
The DDR2 533 I suggested before is indeed a bit slower than the board supports -- this was intentional to be sure you had maximum compatibility.    But you should be able to use DDR2 800, as long as it's standard 1.8v memory.    This module [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134117 ] or either of the first two modules suggested above by jamietoner, should work fine.

IF this issue is indeed related to the higher voltage needed by the Ballistix modules, then switching to these more conservative modules should resolve your problem.    One easy way to test that is to remove one of the modules from the #1 computer (where you installed the new Kingston modules) and install that single module in the troublesome PC.     If it works okay -- and passes MemTest with no issues -- then you can most likely resolve this by simply replacing the memory modules.

This can be (and I'm sure IS) frustrating -- but I've seen this exact issue twice before ... and both times it was with 2.0v Ballistix modules.    Replacing them with 1.8v modules resolved the issue both times.    In both cases it was also months after the system had been installed before the issue arose.     Not sure why this occurred (the voltage was set to 2.0v in both systems) ... but it did.


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by:Bert2005
ID: 33527816
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Components/Memory/Q_26415559.html

It is progressing nicely! And, I am willing to do any type of troubleshooting to figure out the problem. The link above is from about four days ago (part of the my office is haunted scenario). In this one, I kind of did what you are suggesting.

I ran the test and got errors (only eight or so) I am now up to 470,000 on this PC. So, I figured it was the RAM. There were the two Ballistix sticks. I took the one in DIMM 2 out. Now the computer worked fine, and the memtest was fine. So, I thought that RAM module was bad. But, then I switched them putting the one I had taken out into DIMM 1. Everything worked.  So, then I thought maybe it was the DIMM itself #2. So, I put them both in one at a time. Worked. So, the only thing left was having them both in at the same time. Failed. So, I went with one stick of RAM until the new RAM came in (btw, the new Crucial RAM was only like 2mm high -- OK, may 1.5 cm, but it was really small. Put those in, and they worked. The only difference was the voltage matched what the motherboard was compatible with. At least that is what I was told.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33527856
The posts got crossed in the Internet. So, I am thinking that these Ballistix modules were not quite right from the beginning. If one is to recall, the ones I was supposed to get were correct, but they were out of stock. Being rather PC ignorant, I probably bought these. It is weird it takes so long.

Unlike certain other problems, it seems that this computer will boot right back into Windows, no doubt to have another BSOD. My guess is (going by the other computer), that it will work fine with just 1GB in.

It's at 2.13 million and counting. I guess it will just go up as it cycles? How do I tell how many cycles it is?

I am heading home. If there are any more posts, I will respond to them at home. Maybe I should at least do what Gary said or take a stick out and run it overnight and see what it says?
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by:garycase
ID: 33527884
I would resign yourself to replacing the Ballistix modules -- but would first run the test I suggested above just to confirm all is well with 1.8v modules.
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by:Arabia_vn
ID: 33527890
I think your problem is coming from your pathetic cheap MB. Either it has high RAM slot voltage to kill your RAM or simply it is not compatible with your RAM running in dual channel mode. Try this

1)Plug only one RAM stick to see if it's working ok.
2)If 1 does not work, RMA your RAM. Maybe you are unlucky to get bad RAM.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33527995
I'll try to buy a better motherboard next time.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33528077
OK, so I took out one stick, and so far, no errors. It's been about 30 minutes. Then again, the computer slipped out of my hands when I was putting it on its side (I am rather tired), so maybe I either fixed it or broke it.
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by:garycase
ID: 33528195
I've seen this same issue on some excellent P45-based motherboards, so the inexpensive Via-based board isn't really the issue.     As I noted above, I'd simply replace the memory modules with 1.8v modules with conservative speeds and I suspect your issues will be resolved.
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by:Arabia_vn
ID: 33528987
@Bert2005: i don't get you. You mean plugging in 1 stick it works but 2 it doesn't ? Then that means it can not handle 2 sticks well, probably because it's cheap quality. Then simply use 1 stick of 2GB instead of 2x1GB and that's the best we can do.
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by:garycase
ID: 33531882
"... Then simply use 1 stick of 2GB instead of 2x1GB ..."   ==>   I'd assume, since you previously referred to the asker's motherboard as a "...  pathetic cheap motherboard ...",   that you know what the make/model of the motherboard is.     In which case you shouldn't suggest using modules that it doesn't support !!   (The board supports a max of 1GB modules)

By the way, although this is an inexpensive motherboard, I think your choice of descriptive adjectives was inappropriate.    I'm also not a fan of Via-based boards, but that doesn't make them poor boards ... just inexpensive.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33532070
Well, that failed. I used just one stick as I had on the previous computer. It ran OK for an hour, but when I came in there were 8 errors. So, I guess 8 vs a million -- same thing. I ordered NewEgg RAM. Boy, they are helpful. Not! Oh, well, guess it was my fault.

I was almost thinking I should order another pair just to have them. But, then if I never needed them, they would become outdated. (Is that true?) Plus, some of my motherboards may be different.
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by:garycase
ID: 33532123
Bert -- one stick of the Ballistix or one stick of the more conservative Kingston modules?
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33532223
Uh oh. I'm afraid to answer. One stick of the Ballistix. I am fairly confident that the Kingston modules would work. I am slightly at a disadvantage when it comes to troubleshooting as I need all of the computers on the network to work properly or it affects my workflow. One less visit means one less $80.00 which is more than twice the cost of the memory. Of course, that's not true when I order it overnight with the extra $2.95 added on for "rush delivery."

I apologize for not putting the RAM in another computer. I don't think it is the actual RAM as much as it is the combination of the mobo and the RAM. I suppose it would be easier if I had a bench, etc.

I really appreciate your continuing to try to help. I look forward to an email from New Egg telling me the RAM has been shipped and it will be here by tomorrow.

It is no fun trying to choose between computers. While the computer with the new RAM (from Kingston) in room 1which has worked for four days now is important given it is in an exam room, the reception computer is far more important. But, it actually runs OK on the one stick of RAM.

Of course, I could temporarily run room 1 and reception on one module of the conservative Kingston.
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by:garycase
ID: 33532355
That last sentence is what I suggested last night :-)     ["... One easy way to test that is to remove one of the modules from the #1 computer (where you installed the new Kingston modules) and install that single module in the troublesome PC ..."]

It's reasonably certain that this whole issue is compatibility between the Ballistix modules and the motherboard.     I've seen this same strange issue with a couple of Gigabyte P45-based boards -- and in those cases it also took many months after the build before the issue surfaced.     As a consequence, I no longer use Ballistix modules ... indeed I have 4GB sitting on a shelf that I should give away or sell on ebay.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33533687
I will use the excuse of its being 1am when I left, and I really thought it would make it with the one stick. I know I said this before, but I had some difficulty with the RAM when I installed them the first time.

Ironically, Mr. hard drive crashing slowly MA computer would not work at all with two sticks of Ballistix, but would work with one stick and then worked fine with one stick plus the old RAM.

Given, I have the new RAM on order, I will probably wait until it comes in (hopefully tomorrow -- if not I will just put one of the Kingston's in each computer). I will hold the question open until then and report back.

One easy question which may make things easier in the future, and I am sure this isn't too hard. I know that these sites such as Crucial.com have wizards so to speak that sort of walk you through the process. Short of that, if I have the make and model of my motherboard, what is the easiest way for me to find RAM on my own that is compatible?
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by:Arabia_vn
ID: 33534728
@garycase: VIA boards are poor boards. I don't judge something by it's price, but by it's popularity. VIA boards used to be good back in Athlon K7 era. However nowadays they suck. About the problem mentioned, the reason behind is coming from the RAM or MB, right ? Then test both carefully and in this case i think it's MB's fault. If it's still under warranty, RMA it. If not, try to do something to make it last a bit longer.
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by:garycase
ID: 33534903
Bert -- In addition to Crucial's selector, Newegg has one [They hide it a bit -- click on "System Specific Memory" and then on "Which Memory Do I Need" to get to their tool];  www.4allmemory.com has one;  Kingston has one (www.kingston.com);  and there are several others.

Note, however, that these selectors aren't perfect ==>  Crucial lists a lot of 1.8v modules for your motherboard;  but they also list the 2v Ballistix modules.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33535080
@Arabia_vn

Thanks for your help. I think everyone agrees it is most likely the RAM and the incompatibility is related to the motherboard. Unfortunately, I bought the Ballistix modules based on what Crucial's selector recommended.

I am definitely not a computer tech and over the past few years have become fairly proficient at networking due to EE, reading and trial and error. An area I am not very good at is the actual hardware of the computer itself. While I do pretty well with PSU, video boards, NICs, etc. in terms of understanding and quality, I doubt I am ready to replace a motherboard (not saying I think I should here), just that a motherboard is one of the final frontiers for my understanding of computers.

I just assume some times that the computers I purchase will have decent motherboards. I assumed that with my Dell 2900 PE, it had a good motherboard. It probably does. Maybe the clients I purchased collectively have done well to get to three years, although I have had other PCs that have lasted six years or more. But, when I eventually switch to WIN7 I will want more RAM and will probably want motherboards which can accommodate that.

I guess at that time, I will research them more or ask the experts on here for recommendations.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33555137
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134635

OK, solved. The same way room 1 was solved. I do think if this happens again, I will immediately purchase two of the correct (voltage, etc.) RAM modules. Probably Kingston as we all tend to shy away from companies which burned us if only once. They recommended the Ballistix and, from day one, they were problematic. Of course, the motherboards on the others may be slightly different so I would need to do my homework first.

So, I installed the RAM. Didn't work at first. I made one hell of a stupid move that I will only tell at gun point. Man I can be stupid. Of course, my excuse is trying to get it done over a 30 minute lunch break.

I ran the memtest86 overnight and then some. I wasn't at the office. So, it did 41 passes if that is the timing of it. But, no errors.

Now, it's time to divvy up the points. That will be hard. Thanks to everyone.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33555181
Gary was right saying this was a motherboard -- RAM issue, e.g. this RAM would work in a computer it was completely compatible with. I believe Crucial is at fault here, but on the other hand, you can't just trust them blindly. Have to know a little about RAM and compatibility.

Gary, let me know if you put it up on eBay so I don't buy it.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 33555192
I'm sorry, but I just have to comment on this. I have emailed the admins and mods several times about this. I think this is a very good topic, with really good answers by excellent experts. So, why does it get a 4.6? Why would anyone care what the score is. When I search a question, if the title sounds vaguely familiar to my question and, especially if there is an answer, I look at it whether it's a 1.0 or a 10.0.

Just my opinion. Thanks again everyone.
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