Using Diagnostic Software to Detect or Confirm Memory Problems

Using Diagnostic Software to Detect or Confirm Memory Problems

Before diving into any diagnostic software, you should have a reasonably good idea of what is all about, what it can do and what it can’t do. Using a software based memory diagnostic is not, by any means, a substitute for a hardware memory tester, however hardware memory testers are extremely expensive and often exceed the value of most computers. Hardware memory testers are normally relegated to memory manufacturers, computer manufacturers and diagnostic facilities. While we employ the use of a hardware memory tester to test modules prior to shipment to our customers, smaller computer shops and PC users have a need for a product that will enable them to at least identify a bad module, if not the actual bad chip on the module.

This is where companies such as CST Inc., (, are important to both the small shop and enthusiast alike. They have developed an innovative and user friendly memory diagnostic software tool called DocMemory, that can be installed on a single self-booting floppy disk, thereby making it independent of any operating system. During the boot or startup process, the software is capable of determining total memory capacity with its Auto Identification feature and displays easy to read memory related information. The software has two operational selection modes, “normal” and burn-in”.

Upon Boot Up, the software defaults to “Burn-In-Mode” and when the test button is selected, both the “Base Memory “(0k-999k) and the “Extended Memory”(1MB and above) are rigorously tested to detect any possible memory failures. There are over ten detailed memory test patterns imported from their CST Eureka Memory Tester, which are incorporated into their software. The test patterns include: walk address ‘0’ & ‘1’, walk data ‘0’ & ‘1’, Mat-S, March-B, March-C, Checkerboard, Burst, and Moving Inversion. These are just some of the extremely exhaustive test patterns used when executed in the “Burn-In-Mode”. Standard tests can be selected by a simple mouse click. The mouse interface provides the user with the ability to select and reselect any test pattern, change the test configurations and select a “one loop” cycle, and then finish the memory testing in a few minutes.

We tested several software based memory diagnostic products using only two major criteria, “accuracy” and “low cost” (if not free). During our evaluation, we tested several known to be bad SDRAM , EDO and FPM modules on various motherboard combinations, and the results supported the fact that this product in “Burn-In Mode” detected the same failed or failing modules that had been confirmed as failing or failed on our hardware test equipment.

Keep in mind that memory diagnostic software does have its limitations:

  • You will not be able to directly pinpoint the exact location of a dram chip failure.
  • You will not be able to detect the exact memory cell in a faulty memory chip.
  • There must be at least one good module in the system in order to boot the system and run the diagnostic software.
  • The testing process is far longer than that of a hardware tester.

If these limitations present a problem for you, then a hardware tester would better suit your needs.

DocMemory Diagnostic Specifications:

  • Self Bootable Execution program, eliminates the need for Hard-Disk dependency.
  • Test both Base and Extended memory of any Intel based system.
  • Supports EDO, FPM and SDRAM in SIMM, DIMM and SODIMM types.
  • Up to 10 proprietary memory test algorithms to capture permanent and intermittent memory failures.
  • User Defined Test Pattern Selection
  • User Defined Number of Test Cycles ranging from 1 to 9999 cycles.
  • Print Fail results to printer or save results in data format to disk.
  • Easy to read Memory range failure detection.
  • Easy to navigate with Mouse Interface.
  • System Requirement: Dos 3.3 or later
  • It’s Free

Let’s move on to Downloading the Software, Setup and Running the Diagnostics:

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