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Memory - can it go bad / develop faults over time ?

Posted on 2013-10-26
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Last Modified: 2013-10-29
Just tested some suspect memory and found 1 bad in 4

Delighted to have found it but just wondering does memory go bad over tine or did I buy it like this years ago?

I cant prove it either way,'but just wondering your opinion.

It was installed and handled properly years ago.
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Question by:fcek
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LVL 49

Accepted Solution

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dbrunton earned 400 total points
ID: 39602316
Either is possible.

Manufacturing processes should test the memory before it is sold but bad ones or slightly under spec ones can get through the process.

Over time faults can develop either in the memory itself or caused by something else such as environment (dust, water, humidity, vibration, etc) or motherboard fault.

Ideally you'd have tested the memory on installation but that rarely happens.  Only when startup faults occur does this usually occur.  Bad memory from new is rarish.

That you've found it now implies that is has just gone bad unless you've been running with your machine faulting out on a regular basis for a long time (yep, I've done that).
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LVL 88

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by:rindi
rindi earned 400 total points
ID: 39602334
As mentioned above, RAM can go bad, but usually not by "itself". Either it already had some manufacturing flaw that manifests itself in time, or there was some other outside influence, like static electricity or what dbrunton mentioned which can cause it to fail. Sometimes it may also not even be the RAM that is bad, but rather the slot in the mainboard, or some wrong timing setting, that makes it look as if it has failed, so when running memtest86+ to test your RAM, you should test it in more than one slot, and also as the only module in the mainboard.

Many RAM modules are sold with "lifetime" warranty (whatever that means...), so you can try getting a warranty replacement.
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Assisted Solution

by:garycase
garycase earned 400 total points
ID: 39602342
Memory absolutely can (and does) go bad.   Think of it like a light bulb => it can "pop" when you first turn it on;  or it can last for years.     Every time your system is turned on or off, the memory is "hit" with a small voltage spike.     This can cause failures;  as can heat; static electricity (unlikely unless you touched a module);  or an atomic particle from the atmosphere (earth is bombarded daily with these).

It's VERY unlikely you "bought it like that" => you'd have noticed symptoms of bad memory long ago [suspicious crashes; failure to boot; etc.].
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LVL 93

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 400 total points
ID: 39602578
droppin a hammer on it will cause bad symptoms too...
but i had too many bad ram sticks to allow me to say they can't go bad
after all -  consider the complexity of a PC -  millions of parts, and working in all kinds of environments - radiation can cause it to fail also
one never know what really happened to a pc -  when a ram fault arises
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LVL 56

Assisted Solution

by:andyalder
andyalder earned 400 total points
ID: 39602659
Conductors eventually fail due to electromigration and short circuits form due to metal whiskers forming. Tin whiskers are a particular problem since they used to be mitigated against by adding lead to solder which is now banned under RoHS.
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Author Closing Comment

by:fcek
ID: 39607353
Was great to find the bad stick

High end twinned cosair

Im RMA it .
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39607979
tx for feedback
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