I will continue our System Recovery Options for Windows 7 series with an article about Windows Memory Diagnostic. This handy tool allows you to perform a basic set of memory tests, to help you identify Random Access Memory (RAM) problems. This tutorial will cover how to access Windows Memory Diagnostic and how to use it to diagnose if you have memory problems or not.
Opening Windows Memory Diagnostic
There are several ways of opening Windows Memory Diagnostic, depending on the state of your operating system.
When Windows 7 works properly, the simplest way is to type the word memo in the search box of the Start Menu and choose 'Windows Memory Diagnostic'.
You can also access it by opening the Control Panel and clicking on the 'System and Security' shortcut.
Then, click on 'Administrative Tools'.
Here you will find the 'Windows Memory Diagnostic' shortcut.
If Windows 7 won’t boot, follow the steps described in our Overview of System Recovery Options to access the System Recovery Options window. Then, click on the 'Windows Memory Diagnostic' link.
Scanning your Computer's Memory
To perform a manual scan, open the application as described above and click on 'Restart now and check for problems' to start your scan immediately. The second option allows you to perform a scan next time when you start your computer.
After your computer restarts, Windows Memory Diagnostic will run a scanning process, which might take several minutes to finish. When the test is completed, the computer will restart automatically. If this tool finds problems, it will try to identify which memory module in your computer is causing them. The information will be displayed after you restart you computer.
Customize the Scan Process
The advanced users can adjust the tool's settings. To change the default options, press 'F1' while the tool runs. Then, press the 'TAB' key to switch between options and use the arrow keys to select an option. You can adjust the following settings:
- 'Test mix' - allows you choose what type of test you want to run: basic, standard or extended;
- 'Cache' files' - enables you to set the cache setting for each test;
- 'Pass count' - type the number of times that you want to repeat the test. By default each test will be repeated two times.
The Basic option from the 'Test Mix' section allows you to run a limited number of tests. Standard enables you to run all the tests included in Basic and adds some extra tests like cache testing. Extended runs an exhaustive set of tests that can take a few hours to complete.
Each 'Test Mix' option has a default cache setting. However, in the 'Cache' section you can enable or disable the scanning of the cache memory. The cache scan is performed on the CPU's cache memory, that contains the data retrieved from memory modules. While the Standard and Extended use the cache, the Basic one disables the cache so it can access all the data from the memory module.
The Default option allows you to use the default settings of each type of test.
When you are done, press 'F10' to apply your settings and start the test with the chosen options.
NOTE: Windows Memory Diagnostic will run the Standard test by default.
Windows Memory Diagnostic is a very useful troubleshooting tool included in Windows Vista and Windows 7. This utility allows you to establish if your computer errors are caused by RAM memory problems or not. To learn more about other system recovery and diagnostic tools, check out the articles recommended below.