RAM is one of the most sensitive parts of your computer build.
It’s not uncommon for a RAM stick to run into issues and bring the whole PC down with it.
Therefore, it’s wise to monitor your RAM and keep it from damaging other PC parts.
Fortunately, there are tools for keeping an eye on the RAM.
Windows Memory Diagnostic and MemTest are two of the most popular and handy utilities available for this purpose.
Read on to find out how they function and which would suit your situation better.
Windows Memory Diagnostic Vs. MemTest (Which Is Better?)
The original MemTest isn’t actively developed anymore, downloading it from a trusted source has become an issue, and MemTest86 is a more powerful tool anyway.
We’ll focus on the comparison between WMD and MemTest86.
Although Windows Memory Diagnostic is a very powerful RAM testing app, the MemTest86 utility does a more thorough job using more effective and robust tests.
If your RAM has an issue, MemTest86 will identify it.
It not only confirms that the RAM accepts and returns arbitrary patterns of data, but it also makes sure different bits of memory won’t interact with each other, causing errors and corruption.
In conclusion, if you only have to have one memory testing tool, MemTest86 is the one.
However, the best solution would be to use both! Run MemTest86 as the primary test, and if it detects an error with your RAM, run Windows Memory Diagnostic to confirm the issue.
Other Memory Test Programs
MemTest86+ is supposedly a more up-to-date version of the MemTest86 software that can run on x86 and x64 computers.
It’s free to download and use in ISO format for burning to a USB flash drive or disk.
Since MemTest86+ works remarkably similar to MemTest86, and it doesn’t seem to be actively developed anymore, it doesn’t beat MemTest86 in the list.
MemTest86+ can function as an excellent second opinion followed by MemTest86, but then again, Windows Memory Diagnostic will provide a more well-rounded set of tests since it operates differently.
2. DocMemory Memory Diagnostic
DocMemory is a free, self-bootable, and user-friendly RAM testing tool with a rigorous test pattern that exercises the PC Base and the Extended Memory.
The utility has a Burnt-In mode that can capture up to 95% of the soft memory failures.
It can test the Memory up to 64GB.
The DocMemory software has a big catch.
Aside from the fact that it’s old and hasn’t been updated for a long time, it needs you to create a bootable floppy disk.
Since most modern computers don’t even have a floppy disk reader, many people can’t use this tool.
However, for those who want to test an older computer and fix it, or if your PC cannot boot a disk or USB flash drive, DocMemory comes in handy.
Why Would You Want To Test Your Memory?
When you first install one or multiple RAM sticks inside your computer, build, or purchase a new computer, it’s a good idea to check the state of the memory’s well-being.
When you first boot your computer, the BIOS performs the POST test that checks the memory for errors, but it’s not a thorough test at all.
On many occasions where you’re experiencing an issue with your computer, the RAM may be at fault.
For instance, if your PC doesn’t boot to the Operating System or randomly reboots, faulty RAM may be the culprit.
If you see error messages on the BIOS screen during boot time or hear beep codes, the RAM becomes one of the possible suspects.
The same applies to when your apps are crashing, or you get the Blue Screen of Death out of nowhere.
The memory could have a compatibility issue with your motherboard.
You might have overclocked your RAM to run at higher speeds, and it may be failing because it can’t handle the load.
A RAM stick may be seated improperly, or its port may have an issue.
All of these problems have specific symptoms, and when you see one, the best thing you can do is perform a memory test using the RAM test software.
They function by writing data to each part of your PC’s memory and then reading it back.
If the utility reads the wrong value, your RAM is faulty.
What Is Windows Memory Diagnostic?
Windows Memory Diagnostic is a free RAM tester software originally provided by Microsoft.
It’s a helpful tool that relies on sturdy tests to determine if anything is wrong with your RAM and if it’s working at maximum performance.
Some versions of Windows include the program, but it’s also an extremely small download.
It’s pretty easy to use because no user intervention is required, and the tests run automatically.
Although the application is old and hasn’t been updated for a long time, it still works well with any type of RAM you have because the testing methods remain fairly the same.
Although the name could be a bit misleading, the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool has nothing to do with the Operating System.
It can run on various systems that don’t even have Windows installed.
You’ll have to download the installed program and create a bootable floppy disk or ISO image for burning to a USB flash drive or disc.
The default settings of Windows Memory Diagnostic run six standard tests, including the following:
- MATS+ (cache enabled)
- Stride6 (cache enabled)
Windows Memory Diagnostic contains an extended version with more tests that go further than a standard memory test.
The extended collection adds the following tests to the previous list:
- MATS+ (cache disabled)
- Stride6 (cache disabled)
There’s no need to know what each of these tests does.
Knowing the names will help us with the comparison later on.
The only issue that this software has is that it tests only the first 4GB of the RAM.
What Is MemTest?
MemTest is a free and powerful memory testing software that comes in a very lightweight package with a straightforward interface.
Using the app and initializing the tests is as easy as pressing one button, and the utility will start evaluating your RAM by checking retrieval processes and data storage.
The full test can run for several hours before it is 100% completed, and the longer you let it run, the more accurate the result data will be.
You can still use your computer smoothly while the app is running in the background.
However, it’s possible to stop the test at any point and get the gathered results.
MemTest can only run on Windows machines.
Moreover, the MemTest86 utility is a much more popular and powerful app developed by PassMark.
It’s a free and standalone memory testing tool designed for x86 and ARM computers.
Memtest86 performs 13 different RAM testing algorithms and supports all RAM types, including DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, XMP, ECC, and SODIMM.
The app’s secure boot is verified, and Microsoft has signed its code.
The product is fully supported, meaning the developed has planned updates and fixes for new computer types and memories.
The software works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP, Linux, and even Intel x86-based Macs.
It supports both 32-bit and 64-bit computers.
It scans up to 64GB of your RAM.
Since MemTest86 is a standalone utility, it doesn’t need an operating system installed to run.
It can run its tests from a bootable USB flash drive.
The software has several advanced options available that are made for professionals and not needed for a standard and thorough RAM test.
How Can You Access Windows Memory Diagnostics?
If you have access to your Operating System and the Windows boots up fine, try to find the Windows Memory Diagnostic on your system because it’s preinstalled on some versions of Windows:
- Type “Windows Memory Diagnostic” in the Windows search box and open the app that shows up in the results.
- Once you click on it, a box will pop open. Select the “Restart now and check for problems (recommended)” option.
- Your computer will restart immediately, and the Windows Memory Diagnostic test screen will appear. The test will go on for several minutes, and you won’t be able to use your computer while it’s running. You’ll see a Progress bar and a Status section that informs you of any errors it finds.
- Once the test is over, your system will automatically reboot, and Windows will load up with the test results appearing. If by any chance, Windows doesn’t show you the results, here’s how to find it:
- Right-click on the Start button and click on Event Viewer.
- Expand the Windows Logs section from the left pane and then click on System.
- Click on Find from the right pane, type “MemoryDiagnostic” in the box, and click on Find Next.
- Check out the test result at the bottom of the window.
If you don’t have Windows installed on your system or if your computer can’t boot up the OS due to an issue, you’ll have to download the Windows Memory Diagnostic on a bootable CD or flash drive and run it that way.
1. Download the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool on a working computer.
2. Run the mtinst.exe file, click on Accept and then Save CD Image to Disk.
3. Save the windiag.iso ISO image to your desktop and hit OK to confirm.
4. Burn the ISO image file to a disk or a USB flash drive. The process is a bit different than burning a regular file, so get help from these videos:
- How To Burn a Bootable ISO Image File To CD/DVD-ROM
- How To Burn An Iso File To A USB Flash Drive
5. Boot the CD or USB drive on the computer that you want to test, and Windows Memory Diagnostic will start to run its tests immediately.
How Can You Access MemTest?
Since MemTest86 has mostly taken MemTest’s place, one of the only reliable places that you can find MemTest for download is SoftPedia.
Download the zip file, extract it, and run the software.
On the other hand, you can find MemTest86 up for download on its official website.
The latest MemTest86 version can only boot from a USB flash drive, which shouldn’t be an issue for modern computers.
However, if you need to run the utility from a CD/DVD, you’ll have to download the v7.5 version or earlier.
Here are the steps for running MemTest86:
- Download the memtest86-usb.zip file and extract it.
- Insert a USB flash drive into your computer and back up its existing files. This process will delete its data.
- Open the imageUSB.exe file that you’ve extracted.
- Once the window opens up, select the correct USB drive in Step 1, make sure the memtest86-usb.img file is selected in Step 3, and then hit the Write button.
- Once the bootable USB is available, boot the system from it.
- When you see the Memtest86 screen, select the Config button. You’ll find a handful of information about your PC components, including the CPU and RAM.
- Choose Start Test. There will be two progress bars: the Test bar to show you how far along the current running test is, and the Pass bar that indicates how complete the whole set of tests are.
- Once one Pass is complete without any errors, you’ll see the message: “Pass complete, no errors, press Esc to exit.” Press Esc to exit and reboot your computer.