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Window PC memory problems, how to diagnose

Posted on 2013-01-20
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Last Modified: 2013-01-24
Having memory issues on
Windows 7 Ultimate, upgraded from Vista Home Premium, SP 2
HP, Model a6600f
Processor Intel Pentium Dual CPU E220 @ 2.2Ghz
4.0 GM RAM

Just recently started to use hotmail and skydrive, then just started using IE-9 for most windows, then memory would go to 100% soon thereafter. I watched it closely and with nothing much running, I opened two IE windows and several tabs, and it zoomed up to 100% CPU all from iexlporer.exe.

I switched to IE for most windows for several reasons:
- it seemed cleaner than Chrome or FF
- Chrome keeps crashing ("Shockwave has crashed") (but I fixed it with these instructions)
- FF also had issues, like "Shockwave has crashed", but a little different, I forget what, something that says "not responsive" or such

Before my upgrade to Windows 7, I battled the PC on memory issues, and all is settled down now, I get BSOD once a week or less, that's manageable. But the memory situation is still dogging me, and I can't see to find the right browser to work with my PC.

I had plenty of research and trial and error recently, here and here.

I have an underlying memory issue that I've never been able to resolve, although the PC generally runs great and it's workable. When fixing my PC from the above EE posts, I did replace one of two memory sticks, that also seemed to work ok.

I did memtest-86, but as I recall it would say I have a memory problem but I never took any action from that, but here's one result. Now HP Diagnostic tests mostly look good, just a memory warning..

Here's my upgrade to Windows 7 post, not too much takeaway from this, I was able to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate, so didn't have to wipe the machine.

I'm also considering upgrading to Windows 8, but should probably get this memory situation fixed before doing that.

Suggestions ? My issue still remains a memory issue, as best as I can determine.
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Question by:Alaska Cowboy
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rindi earned 100 total points
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If memtest86+ told you you have an issue with RAM, you have an issue and take action. You can, for example, if the PC has more than one module, remove one of them and repeat the test just with that. If you still get errors, then replace that module with the one you removed. If now you don't have errors, you know which module to replace. If you get the same errors, test your RAM in another slot, as sometimes a slot is bad...

But you must take those tests seriously, if they show errors, something is definitely wrong. If they s
don't show errors, the RAM is likely to be fine, but that isn't 100% sure...
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by:Frosty555
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Hi williampeck,

My guess is your issues are stemming from either a) your memory issue, or b) corruption of Windows due to the frequent bluescreens, memory issues, and your upgrade from Vista.

I'd focus on fixing the memory issue first. A BSOD once a week indicates a serious problem. There should be zero errors or warnings in things like the HP Diagnostic tools.

Considering your CPU (Pentium Dual Core E2200), it wouldn't surprise me to see IE chew up 100% cpu for short periods of time while it is rendering a complex page, so I think you can disregard that symptom.

Regarding your high memory usage, have you identified which processes are using up the memory? Look in Resource Monitor (Start->Run->ResMon) to get a better picture of where your memory is going. It is not unreasonable for Chrome/Firefox/IE to chew up hundreds of megabytes of memory - typically 20-30mb per tab is reasonable. BUT, they should release that memory back once you close those windows down.

So what I'd suggest is:


Step 1: Resolve your memory issues. Run memtest86, using sticks of RAM to narrow down the problem stick, and replace that memory. Correct behavior is to get ZERO errors or warnings after an 8-hour test. Anything else constitutes a failure. It is ideal to use a pair of 2x identical memory sticks of the same size in your computer, but mismatched RAM does usually work on a desktop PC, it's just slower in some cases.

Step 2: Use Resource Monitor to figure out what is eating up your memory. If you have problems with processes not being terminated, or other weird flaky behavior even after your memory is working fine you might want to consider re-installing Windows.
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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rindi, sounds good. I did replace one module earlier, maybe I will just buy two new ones and see how that goes.

Frosty555, thanks, didn't know about resource monitor, so that's nice to know. Good suggestions on memory and monitoring.

jcimarron, great, I'll look at them.

will pick this up tomorrow
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by:Tony Giangreco
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I suggest replacing both sticks of memory with a new set of recommended memory for that unit. I never mix different brands or speeds of memory.

Make sure both sticks are the same manufacturer, part# , speed, and same lot (if possible).  

I would consider receiving a BSOD once a week a bad situation. I haven't recived one in years on my desktop.  It's not normal to receive one and if you do, it tells me your system needs help and it should be completed before doing any O/S upgrade because that will just complicate the issue.

Hope this helps!
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by:ded9
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Upload the dmp file for analysis.

c:\Windows\minidump


Ded9
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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TG-TIS - good idea, I think I will do that. do you have any suggested sites to purchase from ?

ded9, never knew about this, here it is . . .
011713-28017-01.dmp
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by:ded9
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Dmp file points to dxgmms1.sys....look like the problem is caused by your graphics card driver.

Switch off the system ..reseat the graphic card and then check manufacturer website for updated graphics card driver.


Also just make sure the cpu clock speed and memory clock speed match  if you are using DDR3 memory module...also make sure the settings are correct in bios.



Ded9
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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ded9, wow, interesting. I have a VGA connection and the white VGA-type connection. So it's not really going into a graphics card driver (which I know nothing about). So my three "open slots" in the back, none are being used. Is "reseating" the graphic card like a memory card ? It's not the same as I understand it.
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by:nobus
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>>  now, I get BSOD once a week or less, that's manageable  <<   NO _ NO  NO...

you should absolutely get no BSOD at all; realising that corrupt Ram can corrupt the files on your disk (and Data ) also

if you have errors in memtest, replace the ram, or test with each stick in every slot
note that not only the ram sticks can be bad, but the RAM CONTROLLER on the mobo also

reseating the video card  is done like this : it is fastened to the case with 1 screw - remove it
some viddeo cards have a lock at the slot - if so, unlock it - then remove the card

a known problem with many video cards is that often the sytem POWER supply is not beefy enough, you can calculate the  power you need here :
http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp

or post your specs
note : a dying PS can also be the cause
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by:ded9
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Yes ...just need to take the graphics card out and then put it back in ..after that go to the graphics card manufacturer website and install updated graphics driver.

Not sure................ but from your comments its look like you have connected your monitor to onboard graphics card...if you have external graphics card ports vga, dvi or hdmi ...then connect monitor to external graphics card.

Launch device manager-under display check the graphics card l- install updated drivers.

Also just make sure the cpu clock speed and memory clock speed match  if you are using DDR3 memory module...also make sure the settings are correct in bios.




Ded9
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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nobus, ok good tips. will look at this more tomorrow. definitely plan on buying two memory modules, do you have suggestions on a good supplier?

ded9, sounds good. yes, it's onboard graphics card, I've never done anything with these cards, so will be cracking up something new for me. Will look at updated drivers (NVIDIA GeForce 7100 / NVIDIA nForce 630i (Microsoft Corp. - WDDM) )
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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updated new drivers, very slick from GeForce, http://www.geforce.com/drivers/results/49948

will re-boot now and then see what happens tomorrow.
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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ded9, >>Also just make sure the cpu clock speed and memory clock speed match  if you are using DDR3 memory module...also make sure the settings are correct in bios.
- how do I do that ?
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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nobus >>a known problem with many video cards is that often the sytem POWER supply is not beefy enough, you can calculate the  power you need here
- looked at that link, not sure of all the components I have (motherboard, CPU Socket, CPU Model, etc.)
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by:nobus
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sure; buy from a well known brand : Kingston, Corsair
use their memory selector tool to find what you need for your pc

william; about the video card, i also posted :  or post your specs
you can find your parts with siw easily : http://www.gtopala.com/
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by:Tony Giangreco
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On your system case, dell has a tag with the Service Tag on it. Take that tag and loog up your system on Dell's site. Check for the proper memory chips to upgrade memory. You can also call them.

Find out what chips are available. You can buy chips from Dell or anyone else, just make sure they are the correct ones.

Also, from dell, I suggest updating your system with the latest Bios and device drivers. Using your service tag, you can look them up and find all of them. Sell support can also help if you are unsure which apply to your system.
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by:ded9
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Since its a HP computer you do not have to worry about the clock speed and Ram issue.

Follow rindi first post and replace the ram if it fails in the test.

 


Ded9
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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nobus, ok on suppliers, thank you. nice on gotopala.com as well, will check that out.

 TG-TIS, thanks for the tips, but it's HP :-)

ded9, thanks, I think I'll just get new RAM.

I'm good for now, will set a game plan and let you know. I'll leave this open for a day or two, but thanks for all the help.
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by:nobus
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>>  I think I'll just get new RAM.  <<   if you have only one stick, yes, but please test it, to be sure
and if you have multiple sticks, test with each one in each slot - just to be sure it's not a faulty slot either
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by:rojosho
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Hello williampeck y et al,

Wow, talk about showing late to the party.... I need to get up earlier  :)

All of my EE colleagues have offered some excellent suggestions and I agree with the suggestion of 'if there is smoke, then find the fire', meaning the issue of the RAM errors – These are ‘low level’ errors that should be addressed first before moving on.  

That being said, I for one like to 'characterize' the problem first (If there is time), so that I know how to duplicate it, the time it takes for the symptom to occur and so I will know if it has been completely resolved.  One of the first steps in this process is to reduce the system to the bare minimum, have installed ONLY the hardware you need and no other applications then what come with the OS.  You indicated that you see a BSOD once a week, so it appears that your MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) is one week – Bummer.  Here is the plan I would suggest:

A. Download ‘HeavyLoad’ from CNET to stress test the system, see what it can take, the goal here is to force the BSOD sooner then a week.
B. Download ‘SpeedFan’ from CNET to confirm that your CPU and HDD are not overheating.
+=====  THEN  =======+
1. Remove all but 2GB of RAM and use the DIMMs that came with the system (In case the unit is still under warranty).
2. Remove the Graphics card.  Even if you are not using it, the driver will still be loaded due to Plug and Play.
3. Remove all other IO hardware that is not needed.
4. Reinstall Windows 7 to eliminate the possibility of a corrupted installation – I have seen from personal experience where a ‘questionable’ DIMM corrupted a Windows install and only by removing all unknown DIMMs, was I able to get past this point.

This problem could have several facets and a systematic plan can help reduce the number of ‘hay stacks’  ¿

Rojosho…
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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everything seems quiet, so I think the video drivers definitely helped. I will see how it goes and definitely look at a memory upgrade.

There is one little nuance . . . every so often (once every 15 minutes) both monitors just go black . . . then they come right back. So something is out of sync for about 1, maybe 2 seconds, then it comes right back, and I don't see any issues beyond that.

Will close out shortly, thanks again for all the tips.
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by:ded9
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Make sure the display cables and the graphics driver are connected properly...you can get a better output with dvi cable or hdmi cable...but you have to connect any one vga or dvi or hdmi.

If you have an option in bios to disable the onboard graphics card ..then disable..if you dont see that option then just ignore it.



Ded9
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by:nobus
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well - one thing to remember : you should have NO Bsod's; if you have one, look for the cause and fix it.
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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nobus, re:
>> if you have only one stick, yes, but please test it, to be sure and if you have multiple sticks, test with each one in each slot
- so you're referring to memtest86 ?
- yes, the goal is NO BSOD !

rojosho, thanks for the tips, better late than never . . . I can usually feel the BSOD coming, everything locks up, can't move around, so I try to close things down, then BAM. Rarely does a BSOD come out of the blue (when things are running smoothly).

ded9, ok on checking graphics card / on-board driver / bios. I've never fiddled with graphics cards, so maybe now is the time.
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by:Alaska Cowboy
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really helpful, thank you everyone.
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by:rojosho
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Williampeck,

You are welcome and thank you for the points and the feedback  :)

Take care...

Rojosho
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