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How to Diagnose and Resolve Common Memory Issues on a Dell Laptop

Summary: The following article provides information about what memory issues can be seen and how to troubleshoot them on a Dell laptop.

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Cause information is not available.


Laptop Memory Troubleshooting

This article provides information about memory issues in Dell laptops 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 may see are.

  • Startup issues with memory error codes
  • System does not startup due to memory failure
  • System is running slow due to memory issue


(Fig.1.1 Status LEDs)


(Fig.1.2 Status LEDs)

  • System slow, stopping responding, or being unresponsive, such as Blue Screen errors


(Fig.2 Blue Screen NMI parity error)

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


Fig.3.1 Application error)


(Fig.3.2 Internal error)


(Fig.3.3 Applet error)

  • Issues installing software or Operating Systems (operating system)

Most of this troubleshooting is 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 can run.

    With the computer powered off, hold down the Fn key and the power button simultaneously. Alternatively, tap rapidly at the F12 key as the computer 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.

    • When you can get online, you can run a memory-specific diagnostic, browse to the Online Memory Diagnostics page.
      • The test starts automatically.
      • You may be prompted to install or update the SupportAssist program, if so, follow the prompts.
      • The test may take 10-15 minutes depending on the hardware in your computer.
    • You can also run diagnostics from our support site.
      • "Quick test" - This test of your hardware may take 10-15 minutes depending on the hardware in your computer.
      • "Full Test" - This is an in-depth test. This may take 40 minutes or more depending on the hardware in your computer.
      • Custom Component Test - Select one or more specific hardware tests that you want to run.

        To run a specific test, perform the following steps.

        1. Browse to the "Dell Support" website.
        2. You are given three options to identify your computer.


          • Touch or click the listing for your computer under THIS PC.
            NOTE: When there is no listing for your computer under THIS PC, you can touch or click Download and Install SupportAssist. It automatically identifies your computer for you. Follow the prompts to download and install SupportAssist.
          • Enter the Service Tag, Dell Product ID, or Model, and then touch or click the Search button, and select your computer from the list.
          • Touch or click Browse all products: You must select the type of device you have, the brand name, and then the product model.
            NOTE: For more information see Dell Knowledge Base article, How to Find the Product Model of your Dell Computer.
        3. Touch or click the DIAGNOSTICS tab.
        4. Under Custom Component Test, touch or click Select individual components.
        5. Touch or click to check the box next to one or more components you want to test.
        6. Touch or click the Run Your Test, and follow the prompts.
  2. The computer runs through about 15-20 minutes worth of hardware self-checks. When these complete it asks if you want to run the further memory tests which can take another 30 minutes+. If the PSAs pass, then run the further memory tests.

    1. If all tests pass, then you want to go 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 want to check the guide below. It tells you if you can run the newer advanced diagnostics on your computer. These diagnostics identify the fault to a memory DIMM or slot on your computer.

    1. If the diagnostics are possible and you have updated to them on your computer. Contact your support with the results of the diagnostics to take this further.

    2. If the diagnostics are not possible for your computer or you are unable to update to them. You want to go to the hardware troubleshooting.

    NOTE: You can submit the Service Tag, ePSA error and validation code at the SupportAssist Pre-Boot System Performance Check page, to learn how to proceed.
Note: Do you own a Dell laptop? Send your laptop in for in-warranty repairs, and we diagnose and resolve the startup issue. This service is available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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Hardware Troubleshooting

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

All laptops with removable memory have access to the memory through the base of the unit. Either the bottom panel comes off or there is a removable hatch cover. You can find the specific methods for your computer 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 computer. Does the fault change?

    1. If yes then go to Step 2.

    2. If it does not, then you want to follow the No Post Guide below.

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

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

    2. No, go to the next step.

  3. Most laptops currently ship with one or two memory modules. Most typically it is two 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 one 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 that you can run the machine with reduced memory until you have got in touch with your support to report the fault.

    2. No. Is the fault the same, regardless of which DIMM or which slot the memory is fitted to? Then either the fault is not 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 support to take this further.

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Software Troubleshooting

Software troubleshooting steps for memory issues are 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 that are already run in the PSA diagnostics. Especially as the PSAs incorporate the Memtest diagnostics in its tests. If you get an error from third-party diagnostics, we check that they are compatible. We would also need the key to the third-party error codes. 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 personal computer. The first is to confirm that windows is handling your virtual memory? Go to the 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 is at the same place that you confirm that the personal computer is handling the memory. Check that partition and ensure at least 6-10 GB is free on that partition. Most paging files are only 2-4 GB, but if the personal computer is handling this it can change the size as needed. Once you have set this, test the computer 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) required 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 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 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 must check. I have included a link below to a jump page with how-to guides on these methods for each of the different operating system's.

    1. If Task Manager shows high memory usage, you may need more memory as not enough is installed to do all the work you want to do on your computer. This would mean replacing the original memory with larger-sized DIMMs that you have purchased.

    2. If Task manager shows that the issue is with the operating system, a program or with a process. You can use a free third-party malware checker like Malware bytes. If the problem continues, then restore or reinstall your version of the operating system to resolve the issue. 

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Additional Information

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Article Properties

Affected Product

Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Legacy Laptop Models, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

25 Mar 2024



Article Type