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XP not recognizing all of installed memory

Posted on 2011-03-03
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have a Dell OptiPlex 380 with Windows XP SP3 installed.  I have a 2GB RAM module installed that is recognized as such in BIOS.  However, once Windows is booted only 512MB is usable.  I have tried replacing the module, placing 2x2GB modules in the available slots, and replacing the mobo but nothing has worked.  Windows does recognize that a 2GB stick is installed, but only 512MB is usable.  Anyone have any ideas about what may be causing this?
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Question by:Dustin23
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10 Comments
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:AriMc
ID: 35032217
- Where do you get this information that only 512 MB is usable?

- If you right-click on "My Computer" and check the amount of RAM, is that 512 MB?

- Could you post the contents of your (probably hidden) c:\boot.ini file?

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Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 35032232
>>  I have tried replacing the module, placing 2x2GB modules in the available slots, and replacing the mobo but nothing has worked.

What does BIOS say?


>>  However, once Windows is booted only 512MB is usable.

Where do you get this information from?  When you click on the System applet in Control Panel how much memory shows there?

Or Start --> Run and type msinfo32 and see how much Total Physical memory is there.

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Expert Comment

by:JohnDecker
ID: 35032332
Try taking one 2Gb stick out and see what it reads. Perhaps it is a mismatch between the sticks
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 35032357
Look in the BIOS and see if the OS Install mode is set.     If so, this limits the amount of memory that is enumerated to the OS.    If that's the case, just disable this and you should see all of your memory.

If that's not the case, post the details asked for in the previous comments.
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Author Comment

by:Dustin23
ID: 35032504
General tab under System Properties tells me I have 512MB of RAM.  System Information (msinfo32) says total physical memory is 2GB.  I can also see this information using Belarc Advisor; it acknowledges a 2GB stick in mem. slot 1, but only 512MB usable.  BIOS simply tells me the total physical memory installed, 2GB.  Here is the requested information from the boot.ini file:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
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Expert Comment

by:AriMc
ID: 35032548
Is your XP by any chance "starter edition"? That one will allow only 512 MB.

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Accepted Solution

by:
dbrunton earned 500 total points
ID: 35032591
Note garycase's comment about OS Install mode.

See http://www.techsupportforum.com/forums/f10/os-alert-os-install-mode-enabled-how-can-i-change-this-mode-415445.html

A variety of solutions offered there.
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Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35032723
It's worth checking the OS Install Mode, but that usuallly restricts it to 256MB on a Dell.

Do you have any special hardware installed - video cards, etc.?
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Author Comment

by:Dustin23
ID: 35037177
@ PowerEdgeTech

Nothing special installed.  Just the standard 380s we've been purchasing for a while.  I will check the BIOS...
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Author Closing Comment

by:Dustin23
ID: 35037793
arby636's solution on the techsupportforum thread worked like a charm.  In msconfig, the MAXRAM field was indeed set to 512MB.  I have no idea how this happened, but it's fixed now.  Thanks for all the help!
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