How to Run a Memory Test in Windows XP

Microsoft tests the memory on machines running Windows using its own diagnostic tool. Windows Memory Diagnostic scans Random Access Memory (RAM) chips for errors. Its results state whether your system has memory problems, and if it does, whether those problems arise from the chips themselves or from the interaction of the chips and the motherboard. The tool works with XP and other Windows versions, and it even works if your operating system fails to boot at all.

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Windows Memory Diagnostic can detect memory chip physical damage.

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Download the Windows Memory Diagnostic (See "Resources").

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Copy the program to a blank USB flash drive. Leave the flash drive plugged into the USB port.

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Restart your computer. It should boot from the USB drive. The Windows Memory Diagnostic will run through its first pass. If the first pass detects errors, something has damaged your hardware. Otherwise, it will run additional passes indefinitely.

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Exit the test during a later pass. According to Microsoft, the subsequent passes rarely find errors if the first does not.

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Remove the flash drive and restart your computer.