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PC Hardware in a Nutshell, Second Edition by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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Troubleshooting Memory Installation and Operation

Once installed and configured, memory seldom causes problems. When problems do occur, they may be as obvious as a failed RAM check at boot or as subtle as a few corrupted bits in a data file. The usual symptom of memory problems is blue-screen crashes of the operating system. Unfortunately, that occurs so often with Windows that it’s of little use as a diagnostic aid. When troubleshooting memory problems, always:

  • Use standard anti-static precautions. Ground yourself before you touch a memory module.

  • Remove and reinstall all memory modules to ensure they are seated properly. While you’re doing that, it’s a good idea to clean the contacts on the memory module. Some people gently rub the contacts with a pencil eraser. We’ve done that ourselves, but memory manufacturers recommend against it because of possible damage to the contacts. Also, there is always the risk of a fragment from the eraser finding its way into the memory slot, where it can block one or more contacts. Better practice is to use a fresh dollar bill, which has just the right amount of abrasiveness to clean the contacts without damaging them.

    Tip

    Although we have never used it, many people whom we respect recommend using Stabilant-22, a liquid contact enhancer. You’ll probably keel over from sticker shock when you see the price of this stuff, but a drop or two is all that’s needed, and a tiny tube lasts most people for years. See http://www.stabilant.com/.

  • Before assuming ...

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