What Happens When Your RAM Fails: Everything You Need To Know

What will happen if your RAM fails? RAM, or random access memory, is one of the most important parts of your computer. It allows your computer to store and access information quickly and efficiently. RAM is frequently misunderstood as a replacement for more permanent data storage. 

However, this is only a short-term storage solution. Anything stored in random access memory is meant to be transient.

This is why losing your RAM can be such a big deal. When your RAM fails, everything that was stored in it is lost. This can lead to many problems, including data loss, memory problems, and system instability. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what happens when your RAM fails and how you can prevent it from happening.

What is RAM?

RAM Fails

RAM is a type of computer memory that stores data temporarily. It allows your computer to access information quickly and efficiently. When you open a program or file, the data is loaded into RAM so the processor can access it.

RAM differs from other computer memory types, such as your hard drive or solid-state drive. These types of storage are designed for long-term data retention. They can store data even when the power is turned off. RAM, on the other hand, needs the power to function. Once the power is turned off, any data stored in RAM is lost.

How Does RAM Work?

RAM works by storing data in a series of memory cells. These cells are arranged in a grid, each with its address. When you want to access a piece of data, the processor sends a request to the RAM’s address bus. This bus tells the RAM where to find the data you’re looking for.

The data is then sent to the processor through the data bus. The data bus is a set of wires that carry the data from one place to another. Once the data arrives at the processor, you can use it to complete the task.

Common Signs and Symptoms of RAM Failure

RAM Fails

There are a few common signs and symptoms of RAM failure. These include:

?Reducing System Performance

If your computer’s performance deteriorates over time, it is most likely due to memory problems. Your machine will start up normally. However, after a while, it will become slow. This issue is usually caused by sluggish RAM. 

Try using heavy apps such as Photo editing or playing heavy games. If your RAM isn’t working properly, you’ll notice a drop in your computer’s performance.

These issues can also develop as a result of memory leaking. As a result, many people are unsure how to test this condition. You can try restarting your computer. 

But this time, don’t run any programs on your computer. If you are experiencing similar issues without any software running, your RAM is malfunctioning.

?Random Crashes

Similarly to the statement about speed degradation, simply because your computer randomly crashes does not prove that your RAM is defective. However, it does raise the potential that it is flawed.

This is especially true if the crashes do not appear to be consistent. For example, if you receive the blue screen of death on Windows each time you start a specific software, the app is more likely to blame than your hardware. However, your RAM could be to blame if the crashes occur without notice and at random periods.

You may also discover that your machine reboots as soon as it displays the desktop or crashes whenever you attempt to install something new. These are both clear signs of a RAM issue.

?Boot Failure

One of the most common signs of a failing RAM module is boot failure. This occurs when your computer is unable to load the operating system correctly. When this happens, you may see an error message, or your computer may simply restart. 

In some cases, you may be able to enter the BIOS or boot into safe mode, but this is usually only possible if the RAM modules are not completely failed. If you see boot failures regularly, it is likely that your RAM modules are failing and need to be replaced.

?Corrupted Data Files

You may discover that files you often access and utilize have become corrupted and cannot be viewed. Aside from being a reminder to make frequent backups, it’s also a clear indication that your RAM is nearing the end of its life.

Suppose you’re finding that more and more files are becoming corrupted, and the situation is getting worse with time. In that case, RAM is probably at fault because the bad RAM is causing the hard drive’s structure to deteriorate, which will prevent the computer from booting properly.

?The Video Card Is Not Loading

Upon powering up a computer, an audible beep is immediately produced. When your computer makes a loud beep, it means it has successfully detected your audio and video devices. The absence of this beep during bootup indicates that your machine has a RAM problem. As part of the boot process, your OS will display a message on the screen.

There is no guarantee that your RAM is broken if this is the only issue your machine is experiencing. Sometimes faulty video cards are to blame for these issues. If your computer makes three rapid beeps on startup, there is likely an issue with the RAM.

?Incorrect RAM Display

The BIOS is a key part of any computer. It is what allows you to change various settings on your machine. When you first turn on your computer, the BIOS will display information about your RAM. If this information is inaccurate or does not match what is printed on the RAM modules, your RAM will likely fail.

You may also see error messages when trying to enter the BIOS. These messages are usually indicative of faulty RAM.

Both Windows and Mac make it simple to determine how much RAM your system believes it has.

On Windows, right-click the Start button and select System> About. You’ll be given an overview of your machine’s vital data, including the potential amount of RAM installed.

If you’re using a Mac, go to Apple > About This Mac and select the Overview tab. As with Windows, it’ll present a few statistics about your computer, including the quantity of RAM.

Does this quantity correspond to what your machine should have? If you’re unsure, look up the product number of your gadget on Google.

The Reasons Why RAM Fails

RAM Fails

There are many reasons why RAM can fail. Here are some of the most common:

❁Faults During Manufacture

While RAM is an essential component of any computer, it is also one of the most likely to fail. This is because RAM is produced using a complex manufacturing process that involves bonding together multiple chips. If any of these chips are damaged during the manufacturing process, it can cause the entire RAM module to fail. 

Additionally, because RAM modules are so small, even a tiny manufacturing error can significantly impact performance. As a result, it is not uncommon for RAM modules to fail soon after they are installed on a computer.

❁Heat Damage

One of the most common causes of RAM failure is heat damage. This can occur if the RAM module is not properly cooled by air or water. Over time, the heat will cause the chips in the RAM module to become damaged and eventually fail. 

Furthermore, if the computer case is not properly ventilated, the heat from the RAM module can build up and damage other components in the computer.

❁Faulty Connector

Another reason for RAM failure is a faulty connector. Over time, the pins on the connectors can become damaged or bent, making it impossible for the RAM to connect with the motherboard properly. This can happen if you repeatedly remove and insert the RAM modules or accidentally drop them. 

Additionally, if the computer case is not properly ventilated, the heat from the RAM module can build up and damage the connectors.

❁Electrostatic Discharge

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is another common cause of RAM failure. ESD occurs when two objects with different charges come into contact, resulting in a sudden discharge of electricity. This can happen if you accidentally touch the RAM modules while they are being installed or removed from the computer. The sudden discharge of electricity can damage the chips in the RAM modules, causing them to fail.

❁Power Surges

Power surges are another common cause of RAM failure. A power surge is a sudden spike in voltage that can damage electronic components. Power surges can be caused by lightning strikes, power outages, or faulty electrical equipment. If a power surge hits while the RAM modules are being used, it can damage the chips and cause them to fail.

How to Run Memory Test Using Built-In Tools

If you feel that the RAM installed on your PC is at risk, you can remove the fog with in-built utilities for both Windows and macOS. Consider the following:

?Windows PC

If you’re running Windows 10, you can use the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool to check your RAM. Follow the steps listed below:

  1. Search for Windows Memory Diagnostic in the Start Menu and launch it.
  2. Check for issues by clicking Restart now. Your operating system will reboot and perform a test automatically.
  3. When your system reboots, a notice will appear. It may take some time for the message to show, so be patient and watch it, as it will vanish rapidly.
  4. You will also receive a notification on the Taskbar if a memory error occurs.


MacOS, like Windows, includes its memory diagnostic utility. Here’s how to put it to use:

  1. Hold down D when restarting your computer. This will bring you to the diagnostics control panel.
  2. Select the Hardware Tests tab if you’re using an older version of macOS. Now, select the option Perform extended testing and press Test. This method is time-consuming.
  3. If you’re using a recent macOS version, holding down D during reboot will start the test automatically.
  4. If your RAM makes a mistake, you will see a pop-up with all the relevant information.

If you don’t see any error messages, your RAM is likely in good condition.

What to Do If Your RAM Fails

Once you’ve determined that the RAM installed on your computer is faulty, you will need to replace it. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to repair the RAM modules yourself. However, if the damage is extensive, you must purchase new RAM modules.

If you’re comfortable opening up your computer, you can replace the RAM modules. First, identify which type of RAM is compatible with your motherboard. Then, purchase the appropriate RAM modules and insert them into the memory slot on the motherboard. If you’re not comfortable replacing the RAM modules yourself, you can take your computer to a qualified technician or send it in for repair.

If you decide to purchase new RAM modules, be sure to buy from a reputable retailer. Avoid buying used RAM modules, as they may be damaged or defective. Once you have the new RAM modules, follow the instructions that came with them to install them properly.

How to Prevent RAM Failure

While many people may not think about it, your computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is quite fragile. In fact, RAM is so delicate that even a simple power surge can cause it to fail. If you want to keep your computer running smoothly and avoid costly repairs, then it’s important to know how to prevent RAM failure.

?Check Your Memory Usage

One of the most common causes of RAM failure is having too many programs open simultaneously. When your RAM is filled to capacity, it can’t store any more data, which can lead to crashes and freezes. To avoid this problem, get in the habit of checking your system memory usage regularly.

On Windows 10, you can do this by opening the Task Manager (press Ctrl+Shift+Esc on your keyboard) and going to the Performance tab. There you’ll see a graph showing your total ram usage. If that number gets too high-say, 80% or higher-you should close some programs to free up space.

?Keep Your Computer Clean

Another way to help prevent RAM failure is to keep your computer physically and digitally clean. Physical debris like dust and dirt can build up over time and cause your components to overheat or malfunction. Periodically cleaning out your computer’s internals with compressed air can help prevent this problem from occurring.

It’s also important to keep your computer clean digitally. Over time, junk files and useless programs can bog down your system and leave little room for anything else. Run regular virus scans and use a program like CleanMyPC to remove junk files and unwanted programs from your system to help keep it running smoothly.

?Update Your BIOS Regularly

The BIOS (basic input/output system) is low-level software stored on a chip on your motherboard that helps control how your computer starts up and supplies information about its various components. Although it doesn’t have anything directly to do with RAM, keeping your BIOS updated can help improve stability and compatibility issues that could lead to future failures. 

To update your BIOS in Windows 10, head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates. Your motherboard’s manufacturer’s website may also have updates available for download.

?Use RAM from a Reputable Brand

Not all RAM is created equal. Some brands are more reliable than others, so it’s important to do your research and buy from a reputable manufacturer. When shopping for RAM, look for modules that come with a lifetime warranty-that way, you can get them replaced if they ever do fail.

?Handle RAM With Care

Another way to help prevent RAM failures is to handle the modules with care simply. When installing or removing RAM from your computer, touch only the modules’ edges to avoid damaging the exposed chips. It’s also good to keep static electricity from building up on your body by touching a metal object before handling the RAM.

This will help ensure that you don’t accidentally damage the chips with static discharge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to replace both sticks of RAM if one fails?

A: No, you don’t need to replace both sticks of RAM if one fails. However, replacing just one stick will disable that feature if you’re using the dual-channel mode. As a result, your system’s performance will take a hit.

Q: Can I test my RAM to see if it’s failing?

A: Yes, you can test your RAM to see if it’s failing. Windows 10 has a built-in memory diagnostics tool that can check for errors. To access it, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager and go to the Performance tab. From there, click on Memory > Open Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool.

Q: How often should I replace my RAM?

A: There’s no set time frame for how often you should replace your RAM. However, it may be time to consider upgrading if you start to notice performance issues or instability. Additionally, if you’re a power user or gamer who uses demanding applications, you may need to replace your RAM more frequently to keep up with the demands of your software.

Q: What happens if I mix different types of RAM?

A: You can mix different types of RAM, but it’s not recommended. Doing so will prevent you from using the dual-channel mode, which will hurt your system’s performance.

Q: Can I use RAM from different brands?

A: Yes, you can use RAM from different brands. However, it’s not recommended. Different brands of RAM often use different components, which can lead to compatibility issues.

Q: What is ECC RAM?

A: ECC RAM is a type of memory that uses error-correcting code to detect and correct data corruption. It’s often used in servers and other mission-critical systems where data integrity is paramount.

Q: What is registered RAM?

A: Registered RAM (also known as buffered RAM) is a type of memory that uses a register to control data flow. It’s often used in servers and other high-end systems where reliability is key.

Q: What is the difference between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM?

A: The main difference between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM is speed. DDR4 is the newer standard and offers faster data transfer rates than DDR3 RAM. Additionally, DDR4 uses less power than DDR3, which can help improve your system’s overall efficiency.

Final Words

RAMs are complex components that are difficult to fix, and in almost every situation, the only answer is to replace them with a new one. However, it is critical to thoroughly inspect your RAM before labeling it dead. If you are uncomfortable doing this, bring it to a professional computer technician for help.

While having a RAM fail on you is never fun, it’s important to know what to do if it does happen. By following the steps outlined above, you can minimize the impact of a faulty RAM module and get your system up and running again as quickly as possible.