Linux Mint – Testing the RAM

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RAM can and does fail, and sometimes, it can be difficult to troubleshoot, as the symptoms are rarely consistent. Sometimes, you may get memory errors, which is a clear indication that you should run a diagnostic scan on your machine. Other times, you won’t see any errors at all but may be facing issues and not realize that your memory is bad until you rule out everything else. Thankfully, memory is quite easy to test. In fact, Linux Mint includes Memtest86, a popular memory-testing utility, built right into the installation media. After Mint is installed on your machine, the Memtest86 is installed as well and is available from Mint’s GRUB menu.

To access the memory-testing utility from the live media, look for the screen after you boot from the disc that reads Automatic boot in X seconds..., and press any key on your keyboard before the number of seconds elapses. You’ll see an option, Memory test, which will be the fourth option. The following screenshot shows Linux Mint’s boot menu from a bootable DVD, showing the Memory test option:

If Linux Mint is already installed on your computer, you can access the memory test by holding Shift while the system starts up, just after the BIOS screen, which will bring you to a boot menu with a selectable option for the memory-test utility. The following screenshot shows the GRUB boot menu in Linux Mint, showing the Memory test option:

Once the option is selected, the memory test will run. In fact, the memory test will run repeatedly, so if you don’t see any errors after a while, you can be confident that your memory is not defective. The following screenshot shows the memory-test utility ( Memtest86) running on a machine:

If the memory test were to fail, you would see errors listed in the bottom-half section of the Memtest86 window. In the preceding screenshot, you’ll see that the bottom half is all blue, with no text at all. If errors were to be encountered, they would be highlighted in red, so it would be hard to miss them.


If Memtest86 finds errors with your RAM, don’t immediately run to your computer store for a replacement kit. First, try reseating your memory modules (with the power cord unplugged and battery removed) to see if this solves your issue. Especially with laptops, memory modules can get loose if the laptop gets bumped well enough.

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