Using Diagnostic Software to Detect or Confirm Memory Problems (Cont.)

Downloading, Setting Up and Running Memory Diagnostic Software

We have discussed the basic techniques and methods you can use to diagnose a possible failed or failing memory module. At this point, we will presume that you have exhausted the basic techniques and need to dig a little deeper in an effort to determine if, in fact, a memory module is or has failed or that there may be another problem masking itself as a memory related problem.

You have tried all of the following without satisfactory results:

  • There have been no power surges or power spikes that may have damaged the motherboard or installed/attached components.
  • You have cleaned both the module contacts and the slot on the motherboard.
  • You have inspected the module(s) and motherboard slots for damage, and none is apparent.
  • You have moved or swapped modules.
  • You have verified that your power supply is not an issue.
  • You have confirmed that your processor is not overheating and is functioning normally.
  • If present, you have verified that the motherboards on-board cache is functioning or you have disabled it and the problem remains.
  • You have removed or detached everything from the motherboard except for the processor, memory and video card and used the BIOS beep tones to test for problems without results.

Software Memory Diagnostics
Memory diagnostic software, when booted from single floppy disk, allows the diagnostic program to test the system memory from the Conventional memory area through to the highest memory available in your system. The following will show you how memory is configured in DOS.

Extended Memory

Remaining Memory

Available to the Operating System
1st 1,088K
High Memory


Controlled by Config.sys
Upper Memory a/k/a

Expanded Memory


Also known as Expanded Memory. It’s used for device control and memory paging – Expanded memory is moved into upper memory in 64K pages as needed.
Conventional Memory


First 1,280 bytes set aside for tracking BIOS, BIOS Data, DOS and User Interrupts

Keep in mind the computer must function well enough to boot, otherwise it will not be able to detect a memory problem. Memory diagnostic software typically uses a basic test pattern to test and stress main memory, and an error message will usually alert you that a specific area in the memory map is defective. One of the downsides of using a software diagnostic is that you may have to run it in an exhaustive “burn-in-mode” in order to determine whether the memory problem is from a change in a chip such as from the natural aging process and/or heat generation.

Downloading and Setting Up the Diagnostic Software

Step One:

Download the Diagnostic Software – DocMem1_45a.exe 205K

Download the Diagnostic User Guide – DocGuide.pdf 139K

Download the Diagnostic Software – DocMem1_45a.exe 205K (alternate server)

Download the Diagnostic User Guide – DocGuide.pdf  139K (alternate server)

Step Two:

  • Move the downloaded diagnostic software to a empty directory on your hard drive and then double-click the file to expand (unzip) it.
  • Insert a blank diskette into your floppy drive.
  • Run the installation program by clicking “setup.exe”.
  • The setup program will create a bootable diagnostic disk.

Step Three:

  • Insert the diagnostics disk into the floppy drive of the target system and start it, booting to the floppy.

Step Four:

  • As necessary, edit the test patterns and other user definable parameters with your mouse.
  • Start with the Quick Test mode and then, if necessary, move to Burn-In mode to exercise and stress the memory modules.

Selection Screen Sample:

Type of Test

Select Type of Test

Test Screen Sample:

The software automatically starts in ‘burn-in’ mode, and unless reconfigured, will test Base & Extended memory with most of the possible memory patterns.

Base Memory Test
Base Memory is the conventional memory cells below 1 Mbyte, available for testing in the RAM module.( eg. address 5000H ~ A000H) If the user enables this option, a normal Run Test will be carried out on the Base memory locations, based on the selected test pattern.

Extended Memory Test
Extended Memory refers to the memory locations that are above 1Mbyte to the maximum amount of Ram installed in a typical PC system (eg: 1M ~ 32 Mbyte; 1M ~ 256 Mbyte).

Test Run Example of DocMemory Software
There are over 10-industry standard memory tests built into the software to detect faulty memory modules. A Typical Test Time for 32 MB SDRAM PC-100 Memory running on an Intel Celeron 400 Mhz processor, will take approximately 2 Minutes to complete a full cycle test- if the Quick Test is selected. Test time varies from different system, it is dependent on your processor speed, and the type of memory used.

Sample Test Screen Illustration

Let’s move on to Interpreting the Test Results

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