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OT- Computer ram problem.

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Lane, Nov 18, 2008.

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  1. Lane

    Lane TS Member

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    Dell Inspiron 8500 lap top with XP-sp3 and all updates and six years old. 95% use is on a docking station. Started out with 512 ram and then last year added a 1GB stick to end up with 1.5GB. All has been well till a few weeks ago and I started her up and all was fine till a black screen poped up telling me that my memory had changed since my last session. I needed to hit the F1 key to continue or hit the F12 for set up. I have been hitting the F1 key and everything works great. BUT!!!!! My systems information was only showing 1GB and not the 1.5GB that was installed. So, I bought another 1GB stick thinking that the original 512 had bit the dirt. Installed the new 1GB stick and fired her up and everything was back to normal and the systems report showed 2GB installed. Well! Things have gone well for three weeks. I'm back to the black screen. Systems showing 1GB. Any ideas Whiz! I have included an E-mail address if the fix for this gets involved. I have learned a great deal from the computer post on this site.
     
  2. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    Let's start simple.

    Re-seat the DIMM in its slot. (Power down and ground yourself properly prior to doing this.)

    Try the memory scan provided by www.crucial.com to see what it recognizes as being present in your system. Does it show 1 or 2 slots being filled? What is listed as your computers maximum memory capability? Just because it has two slots, it may not actually support 2 gig. (I had a system that although it listed at 2 Gig max, could only handle 1.5 Gig reliably. It was a problem with that particular series of mothorboard.)


    Is it the same slot as was the first "failed" DIMM that now holds the second "failed" RAM?

    If you still have the old 512 RAM, pull both DIMMs out and insert the 512 in one slot and see if it boots. Then try it in the other slot to see if it will boot there. Repeat but now using the "failed" 1 Gig dimm.

    If it is the same slot (and I suspect that will be the case) when you have the Dimm out of the slot, look VERY CLOSELY at the slot to see if there are any broken or bent contact(s) in the card slot.

    If you are comfortable with starting the computer in the "Setup" mode for the BIOS, what does the BIOS show as RAM installed?

    If you go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/System/General what is shown for RAM. Do all the reading from the above steps show the same RAM as being present, installed and available?

    These steps should start you on the road to figuring out if the DIMM is bad or the slot is bad.

    One other consideration, does the problem show up as soon as you power up from a cold start (full power off and battery pulled, push the power button and hold it for a few seconds then replace battery and AC adapter then start the computer) or does it only show up when the computer is already warm from running for a few minutes? If it is thermal, I would have more suspicion of the DIMM.
     
  3. whiz white

    whiz white Strong Supporter of Trapshooting Banned

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    I will use the erase end of a pencil and "erase" the ram's contacts ini the hopes of cleaning up any tarnished areas that could cause a faulty contact.

    You could also remove the DIMM ram and run the system will less memory to see if it duplicates the problem.
     
  4. Jerbear

    Jerbear TS Member

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    I had a CMOS battery drive me crazy once. The above site has them or you could try your local Radio Shack. If the power is removed and the battery is going dead you will get these symptoms. At least I had that experience.

    copy and paste this link for the location of the CMOS battery.

    http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins8500/en/8500/sm/reserve.htm#1123661

    Hope this helps....


    Jerbear
     
  5. Lane

    Lane TS Member

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    OK! Both sticks are from crucial and were bought from their scanner recommendation. I have two slots and is labeled Dimm "A" the other is not labeled. I took the old 512 and put it in each slot and restarted. I did get the black screen telling me the memory had changed. This is to be expected as I dropped from 2Gb to the 512. I tried it in each of the two slots with no other sticks in any other slot. The computer started up and ran thry the BIOS page and the white graph ran from left to right as it should. As said before. The black screen came up each time. I checked the system info site and I had 512GB. Looked at Belarc advisor and the same info as well as CC-cleaner banner and it said 512. Installed the two 1GB sticks following your suggestions. Started the computer up and the same balck screen and I hit the F1 key to continue. Checked all of the places mentioned above to see what memory I had. It shows only the 1GB.

    I hit the F12 key on boot up and ran a series of test on everything in the computer including the memory. It tested MATS and MARCH "A" Have no idea as to what that means. But both test were ok. Only error in the whole system check was on the IDE device and I got an error code OFOO:133D incompatiable CD device failed???? Remember that this started before I added the new 1GB stick. I was running into this with the 1GB stick and the original 512 that had worked for over a year. I added the new stick just thinking the 512 might be bad. i haven't tried the start up in BIOS mode to see what it says as yet.

    To answer your question as to if this is happening at cold start up! The answer is yes. It does not change during normal operations. Sometimes I start it up and the BIOS graph goes all the way across and the windows load screen comes up and I check to see what the memory is and it's 2GB. This might work for three or four days and back to the 1GB again. I think that something is happening at start up that is not seeing the other 1GB stick everytime. Now this isn't the end of the world here as this unit runs fine on 1GB. I was just hopeing to find out what this problem could be. The only lead I have is that this seems to have all started when I used Hibernate for the very first time to see what it did. I belive that hibernate grabs some memory and stores everything on it so you can go right back to what youwere doing. I have since deactivated the Hibernate option on my sign off selection box. I only have stand by now.

    One other clue??? If I select or when I receive updates I restart from the menue or the computer restarts it's self. The computer will not come back on on it's own. I get a black screen and the computer is on but not booting back up. I have to press the power button and turn the unit off and undock it and the redock and turn it back on. I know I'am grabing at straws here. Thanks for the replys. Maybe someone as well as I can learn something from this.
     
  6. whiz white

    whiz white Strong Supporter of Trapshooting Banned

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    Can you do a reinstall of the hard drive, not the OS, but the entire Dell stuff? Is there a partition (probably D:) with the manufactuer's original setups?

    If not, you may want to get to Dell's site and download and burn a CD with the original stuff on it.

    I had a Dell here at the shop and the customer had the extended warranty. I called Dell. They over-nighted the original setup CD's, and get this... they called me back the following day to see if it was up and running. Which it was, but I was impressed with their service - boy yu don't see that often today.

    Whiz
     
  7. Jerbear

    Jerbear TS Member

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    Whiz, were you able to understand the person from Dell?


    Jerbear
     
  8. whiz white

    whiz white Strong Supporter of Trapshooting Banned

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    Jerry: Yes, he was in Oregon, if I remember correctly.

    When I get someone from India, I just keep saying, "I can't understand you!" over and over and over. Eventually, I get transferred to an America.

    Whiz
     
  9. Quack Shot

    Quack Shot Active Member

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    Number one, look for a Bios update

    Number two, be sure to have all of the latest drivers from Dell

    Number three, you may be experiencing a compatability issue. It happens even with crucial memory. Sometimes they just don't work. You can also run memtest to see if the ram is ok.

    Number four, make sure you have enough free space on your hard drive. You will create a "hiberfil.sys" file when you enable hibernation. It will be about the same size as your ram. You can delete the file and start over on the hibernation thing.

    Number five, there may be a program or utility that Dell uses that manages some of the functions of Windows. Wireless networks are one example. It's sometimes best to let windows handle these things. They may have a utility taking care of the system power resources. Make sure you have the latest versions.

    Number Six, you may have a hardware problem where something has, or is about to fail.

    Number seven, good luck!
     
  10. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    Got me with what March A or MATS is supposed to mean.

    Quackshot offers some good advice, especially about drivers and possible incompatability in the memory. Like I said, one time I did have a problem with 2 One gig sticks from Crucial not working together but working fine when used alone. I called them, they looked at the particular MotherBoard series and found that there was a problem with that series. They gave me a full credit for the one stick I returned. Have you asked Crucial about your situation?

    I do not use Hibernate after one experience where it caused me some problems so I do not have any real help to offer in that area.

    What Quackshot mentioned about a BIOS Update may cure the problem but be careful if you try to flash the bios. A failure here could cause a number of problems. If you do try, see if you can get a UPS to insure that a random power failure or blip doesn't happen while you are flashing.

    It would appear that, if each DIMM when used separately one at a time in either slot,indicates 1 Gig, the DIMM is okay and the slot is okay. That would seem to indicate either a software error in the bootup process or a impending or intermittent hardware failure.

    If you have not checked the BIOS reading for RAM, it might be a good thing to look. If the BIOS shows 2 Gig when both DIMMs are installed but XP only shows one Gig, suspect XP, possibly a driver conflict or MB problem. That was one of my major clues when I had the problem I mentioned.

    With what you have said, especially about the restart not starting, I suspect something may have got added or changed without your knowledge.

    I am not a fan of "Restore" but did you perhaps try a Restore to an earlier date, when the system first acted up? It is probably too late to gain anything from trying a restore now.

    Have you tried "Safe Boot"? (Hold the F8 key during the boot process and then select Safe Boot.)

    This will start with a reduced set of drivers and if a driver conflict is causing the problem you may start normally. You will have to select your operating system from the choices. If you see anything else besides your XP-SP3 something is happening that probably shouldn't. Again check RAM (Start/Settings/CP/......)

    You should choose to login as your account since the Administrator account will probably also be shown as a login choice. This is the account that is set up when XP is first installed. I presume that it will still be offered with the Dell installed Windows. If it is password protected and you do not know/remember the password, try administrator or Administrator (note case change since the PW is case sensitive.)

    After you are booted up, RIGHT click on the "Start" button. This should pull up a menu with "Explore all users" When you click on it, a window should open showing a list of all the programs that are configured to be in the "All Programs" list. One of the entries will also be "Startup". Take a look at the "Startup" entries. If you see some program(s) that do not seem to be things you willingly installed, they probably came along when you downloaded something or maybe did an update. Do not remove them yet but note them.

    Repeat this process but using your account instead of the "All Users" to see what programs are trying to start automatically when you log in. There may be some conflict with one or more of the programs, especially is there is something that is "supposed" to "speed up your system" or some such advertising BS.

    Again, to re-quote Quackshot "Number Six, you may have a hardware problem where something has, or is about to fail.

    Number seven, good luck! "
     
  11. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    Just thought of one other question.

    Did you change or add any things to the computer prior to the memory problem? I know you have a laptop but I am wondering if there is a chance that some thing may now be loading down the power supply. In desktop systems, a weak or failing power supply can give a number of "weird" problems. Did you have any thing plugged in to the computer, usb printers, parallel port printers, external keyboards, external mouse, external modem or wireless cards/usb, etc. might have just enough loading that the PS "sags" a bit when something is starting up. That might account for why it will occasionally work correctly for a short time. Another side of this might be a laptop battery slowly "fading into the sunset". If the docking station is trying to charge a weak or dying battery AND boot the system, it might just have only marginal reserve. Ditto if the battery is weak and can't handle the load of a startup. If the laptop battery is siz years old, it could very well be near end of life.

    In the bios settings you might just find a hard drive startup delay. If the hard drive is calling for power when the system is booting from a marginal power source, you might be able to set the HD delay for a few seconds longer to give the system a chance to complete a few things before trying to spin up the HD.

    These are some long shot chances but just maybe.....
     
  12. W.P.T.

    W.P.T. TS Member

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    I just bought a new Dell XPS 630, they have a number to call for service and it does not go to India so I have been told ... I have not set it up yet but it will be interesting to see how it goes when I try to download this computer onto that new computer ... I have been deleteing a bunch of stuff so I don't have a dirty director on the new computer, which is what my brother (advisor) told me to do before doing the changeover ... I hope the new one works as good as the one its replacing, time will tell ... Is there anything special I have to know before attempting this ..? I appreciate it ... Thx, WPT ... (YAC) ...
     
  13. Lane

    Lane TS Member

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    Quackshot. Bios are the latest and have been on system for way over a year "A08". Did the drivers. This problem happened with the original 512 stick and the Crucial 1Gb stick that had been installed for year and a half with no problems. The second 1Gb stick was a stab in the dark thinking maybe the 512 stick bit the dirt. This problem happened after I tried out the hibernate. I'm grabbing at straws on this one. I do remember getting a screen saying my disk was full when I knew it couldn't be. I have an 80Gb drive an am only useing 15% of it. I have disabled hibernate. I could not find the "hiberfil.sys" file. I have no wireless setup. I ran the F-12 key at boot up and ran the "Pre-boot system assessment. Everything was fine includeing the Mats and march "A" test. The only error code I got was in the IDE controller test and I got 0F00:133D. I googled it and it does seem to cause a lot of boot up troubls.

    Pyrdek: The Crucial compatability problem wasn't present for over a year and a half. So I don't think that was the case. I have disabled the hibernate function. The Bios were upgraded way over a year ago to the "A08". During all of this testing. The 2Gb shows up about 50% of the time. The Bios show 2084 present. I think you might be right that this is an XP problem. I did do a restore and no effect. I have all of the auto updates thru live one care. I have not tried safe boot. I checked the start up list and nothing is out of line. My battery is a brand new one only two months old and has been cycled thru the draw down and recharge cycle. I will try the safe boot later tonight. I'm useing a port replicator and have a 19' monitor and an HP all in one printer running I also have a D-Link router (D-604) in the line as well as the mouse and keyboard. I'm useing Road Runner. I use a regulated power supply. The Bios thing has me worried as You guys have already had me into unknown territory. If I get brave, I'll try the Bios and boot in th F-8. I really don't want to trash this thing as it is working. If it will hold on for another three months till the big Apple show in January. I'll be getting the new upgraded I-mac and try that system for a change. I can't complain on this set up that I have. Over six years and this is the first problem that I have had. If you can call it a problem as everything is working fine and I still have twice the Ram as I started out with. Plus 50% of the time I have 2GB! I still think that darn hibernate function started this crap. I really didn't think this problem would get this involved. I want to thank all of you for the help and the lessons learned in this adventure. I will keep all of you informed if I ever discover what has caused this, are if it heals it's self. But,at over six years old. Something is going to die here soon. HAAAA! Just checked the system ifo and it says 2GB. Go figuare.
     
  14. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Well-Known Member

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    WPT

    "... Is there anything special I have to know before attempting this ..?"

    How are you going to do it, what method are you going to use?

    Bob Lawless
     
  15. X Trap 2

    X Trap 2 TS Member

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    I have an older Dell 2350 desk top and it is made to only read one gig ram. Starter with 256 then, 512, then 1 gig, then 2 gig. It would only read 1 gig.I went to the ram manufactuer web site to see how much it will read and found out it would only read 1 gig. I now have an extra 1 gig 2100/2700 DDR ram stick for sale if anyone needs it. Ray
     
  16. Quack Shot

    Quack Shot Active Member

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    Have you tried opening a command prompt in windows and typing in "mem" and hitting the enter key? If the system is misreporting it, the "mem" command sometimes shows the correct amount and how it is allocated. You can also usually boot to a command prompt and use the same command. I seem to also remember a system that saw the proper amount in safe mode, but did not report it right in Windows. The Task Manager is also another place to look for the memory specs, you can look under the performance tab. Right click on the taskbar and select Task Manager or just do a ctrl+alt+del key routine to bring it up. If there is any memory reserved for onboard video, it will show less in Windows as a result. In your case, it's hard to believe that 1 Gig would be held for memory.
     
  17. Lane

    Lane TS Member

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    Quack shot. I did what you suggested and this is the info I got. I haven't got the foggist idea as to what it means. This is with the "system Inf." in XP showing I have 2GB. 655360 bytes totalconventional memory. Same to MS-DOS. 599296 largest executable program size. 1048567 bytes total contiuous extended memory. O bytes available contiguous extended memory. 941056 bytes available XMS memory. i have noticed that on start up when you have the BIOS start up screen (the black screen with the white graph) that when I get 2Gb showing up in system information. The white crawler graph that goes from left to right and shows the loading progress. That it will go all the way across to the end and we jump to the regular windows screen and then into the log in screen for my password. If I only get 1Gb showing in system information. The white graph goes about 2/3 thirds of the way across and then we jump to the log in screen.


    I'm sure guys on here have about had enough of this and the computer is working ok. I really didn't think this was going to get this involved. But I sure have learned a lot and have gone into and fooled with a lot of things that I would have never attempted with out all the hell I have received. What ever is doing this isn't consistant as one night I log in and the system info and Belarc advisor and ccleaner all show 2Gb of memory. The next morning or night it could just as well be 1GB. I'm sure I speak for all of us out here who are not computer savy to the degree that some of you are. Appreciate your time and efforts on helping us out. If I ever accidently find out what is causeing this. I will let you know.
     
  18. Lane

    Lane TS Member

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    That is supposed to be "HELP" not hell. Sorry.
     
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