How to diagnose and resolve common memory issues on a Dell Notebook PC

How to diagnose and resolve common memory issues on a Dell Notebook PC

The following article provides information on what memory issues can be seen and how to troubleshoot them on a Dell notebook PC.

Table of Contents:

  1. Notebook Memory Troubleshooting
  2. Diagnostics
  3. Hardware Troubleshooting
  4. Software Troubleshooting

Notebook Memory Troubleshooting

This guide deals with memory issues in notebook systems and how to troubleshoot and resolve memory issues. Memory troubleshooting typically breaks down into three sections.

  • Diagnostics
  • Hardware
  • Software

The common types of memory issues you will see during use are.

  • No POST with memory error codes.

Status LEDs

(Fig.1.1 Status LEDs)

Status LEDs

(Fig.1.2 Status LEDs)

  • System slow, freezing or crashing, such as Blue Screen errors.

Blue Screen NMI parity error

(Fig.2 Blue Screen NMI parity error)

  • Onscreen error messaging about memory halts, overruns, size or read issues.

Application error

Fig.3.1 Application error)

Internal error

(Fig.3.2 Internal error)

Applet error

(Fig.3.3 Applet error)

  • Issues installing software or Operating Systems (OS).

The vast majority of this troubleshooting will normally be done as part of a specific troubleshooting guide for a particular fault. This article is a General Overview that can go into a bit more detail than you would normally see.

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This article takes you through the diagnostics LEDs and codes for the various models.

  1. The first thing to do is to check if the Pre-Boot System Assessment (PSA) Diagnostics run.

    With the system powered off, hold down the Fn key and the power button at the same time. Alternatively, tap rapidly at the F12 key as the system boots and select Diagnostics from the memory that appears. A Diagnostic Boot Selected message should appear in the top right-hand side corner of the screen. If you can get online you can also run the diagnostics from our support site.

  2. The system will run through about 15-20 mins worth of hardware self-checks. When these complete it will ask if you want to run the further memory tests which can take another 30 mins+. If the PSAs pass then run the further memory tests.

    1. If all tests pass then you will want to skip to the software troubleshooting.

    2. If they fail then take a note of the error code and go to the next step.

  3. If you have an error code then you will want to check the guide below to see if you can run the newer advanced diagnostics on your system as these diags will identify the fault to a memory DIMM or slot on your system.

    1. If the diagnostics are possible and you've updated to them on your system, then contact your support with the results of the diagnostics to take this further.

    2. If the diagnostics are not possible for your system or you are unable to update to them, then you will want to go to the hard troubleshooting.

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Hardware Troubleshooting

The concept behind hardware troubleshooting memory is very simple. It comes down to part substitution and access to known good working parts.

All notebooks with removable memory will have access to the memory through the base of the unit. Either the bottom panel comes off or there will be a removable hatch cover. You will find the specific method for your system in the Service Manuals and User Guides for your Dell System.

  1. If you are experiencing a No Post situation, the first step is to remove the memory altogether from the system. does the fault change?

    1. If yes then go to step 2.

    2. If it doesn't then you will want to follow the No Post Guide below.

  2. Do you have a known good similar system or known good working memory you could swap into this system?

    1. Yes, then please swap the known good memory with the memory from this unit and see where the fault goes. contact your support and take this further with them.

    2. No, proceed to the next step.

  3. Most notebooks systems currently ship with 1 or 2 memory modules. Most typically it's 2 because most memory is designed to work better in matched pairs. Regardless of how many modules you have, the next step is the same. Take 1 DIMM and test it in either memory socket. Note the results and do the same thing with the second DIMM if you have one. Does the issue change depending on which DIMM or which socket is in use?

    1. Yes. If the fault follows a DIMM or stays with a particular slot on the motherboard, then you have identified the fault. The good news is you can run the machine with reduced memory until you've got in touch with your support to report the fault.

    2. No. If the fault is the same regardless of which DIMM or which slot the memory is fitted to, then either the fault isn't with the memory or both the memory and the slots are faulty. This is why we suggest carrying out step 2. I would recommend contacting your support at this point to take this further.

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Software Troubleshooting

Software troubleshooting steps for memory issues are pretty brief and mostly deal with virtual memory instead of physical memory.

  1. You can run further memory diagnostics in windows. There are several well-known tests to pick from such as Memtest. However, we would most likely go on the results already run in the PSA diagnostics. Especially as the PSA's incorporate the Memtest diagnostics in its tests. If you get an error from third party diagnostics then we would need to check they are compatible and that the key to the error codes is available. you would be better to skip this and move to the next step.

  2. To rule out a virtual memory fault, I'd recommend checking a couple of quick things on your PC. The first is to confirm that windows is handling your virtual memory? Go to control panel and performance in the hardware window and check your settings. Reset it if needed. Confirm which partition the virtual memory is being allocated from? The Computer assigns space on your Hard Drive to swap memory from your physical memory. The information will be located at the same place you confirm the PC is handling the memory. Check that partition and ensure at least 6-10 GB is free on that partition. Most paging files are only 2-4GB, but if the PC is handling this it can change the size as needed. Once you set this test the system to see if the fault returns. If it does go to the next step.

    Virtual Memory

    If your computer lacks the random access memory (RAM) needed to run a program or operation, Windows uses virtual memory to compensate.

    Virtual memory combines your physical RAM with temporary space on your hard disk. When RAM runs low, virtual memory moves data from RAM to a space called a paging file. Moving data to and from the paging file frees up RAM to complete its work.

    The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.

  3. You can monitor the memory usage through Task Manager and event log exceptions. This would let you track if there was a particular program, process or device that coincided with the errors. Alternatively is your memory usage high? If you can get into the windows environment to monitor these, then it cuts down on the number of issues you need to check. I've included a link below to a jump page with how-to guides on these methods for each of the different OS's.

    1. If Task Manager shows high memory usage, then you may simply need more memory installed to do all the work you want to do on your system. Normally this would mean replacing the original memory with larger sized DIMMs that you've purchased.

    2. If Task manager shows the issue is with the OS, a program or with a process, then you may want to run a free third party malware checker like Malwarebytes and if the problem continues then restore or reinstall your version of the OS to resolve the issue.

If you require further assistance, please contact Technical Support

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Article ID: SLN284387

Last Date Modified: 12/04/2019 02:45 AM

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