Is It Time For New RAM?
If you're not much of a tech person, it may seem like the computer world is full of acronyms. Even worse, you'll find that people in the know will often use different terms to describe the same thing. Computer memory is one common point of confusion for many users who may not know their CPUs from their GPUs.
In modern machines, memory typically refers to random access memory (RAM). This critical component allows your computer to function, and it can cause a variety of problems when it begins to fail. Recognizing the symptoms of failure can help you avoid frustration and ensure that your computer remains reliable and ready to keep you productive.
Understanding the Difference Between Memory and Storage
Your computer uses memory to store temporary information while the system is on. This transitory information includes everything from program instructions to data, but your system clears this memory every time you shut it down. The computer moves anything permanent into storage, which includes components such as hard drives and solid-state drives.
You can think of RAM as akin to short-term memory. If your computer's RAM begins to fail, it will have difficulty operating "in the moment." Since every application you use on your computer must place its own execution instructions into memory, failing RAM can lead to many possible issues.
Recognizing the Signs of Bad RAM
Like any component in your computer, your RAM can go bad over time. These failures are sometimes the result of improper installation or manufacturing defects, but most RAM modules will eventually fail. Even though memory includes no moving parts, heating and cooling cycles can wear out electronic components and cause them to misbehave.
If your computer has a bad RAM module, you'll likely notice many seemingly unrelated symptoms. Programs may crash at random, your computer might lock up, or you may even experience the infamous blue screen of death. These disparate problems result from many different programs or parts of the operating system accessing failing portions of your computer's memory.
While RAM modules (or sticks) are relatively inexpensive, it can be challenging to separate failing RAM from many other computer issues. A weak power supply or failing motherboard can often cause similar symptoms, for example. If you aren't sure that bad memory is the root cause of your problem, then it's usually best to allow a professional repair shop to test your RAM for faults.
Fixing Failing Memory
Fortunately, repairing a computer with faulty memory is much easier than helping a particularly forgetful person. Once you've identified one or more faulty RAM modules, you can usually replace them with a minimum amount of effort. If you're uncomfortable digging around inside your computer, a computer repair expert can generally handle this job in under an hour.
To get help, reach out to a local computer repair service.