How to Use Memtest86 – Memtest 86 Tutorial & Guide

Setting Up Memtest86:

When you go to the Memtest86 homepage you will see a “download” link at the very top of their page. If you follow this link it will take you to a page with 4 main links at the top. 90% of our users are going to want to download the third link down the page [This is the link for the Windows version of the program] labeled:

Download - Memtest86 v3.2 ISO image (zip)

I recommend saving the file to your desktop so it is easy to find. Once you have the file you will need to extract if from the ZIP file. If you are running Windows XP you should just be able to double click on the ZIP file and the drag it to your desktop. Otherwise if you are running an older version of Windows you will need to download Winzip which can be found at the follow link:

http://www.winzip.com

You do not need to buy this program as the evaluation version they offer will do all the basic things you need it to, to extract this file. Once you have Winzip installed follow the above instructions and double click on the file, and then drag the file you see in the window to your desktop.

The file you should have extracted from the above examples is labeled:

memtest86-3.2.iso

[NOTE: Memtest86 only allows for creating a bootable diagnostic CD. If you do not have a CD Burner and are unable to create the diagnostic disc, you may want to refer to the guide on "Setting Up MS Memory Diagnostic" which will give you two options for creating a disc.]

Burning The Program to CD:

As you can see from looking at the file extension this is an ISO file indicated by the .ISO at the end of the filename. An ISO file, also known as an “Image” file is used to burn an exact copy of a file or program within certain CD burning software. One program that works great for burning these types of files is “Nero Burning Rom”. If you have this program you are good to go. If not you can download the program from the following location:

http://www.nero.com/

If you do not want to purchase this software, you can look for the “Free Trial” version on their site which will let you use the basic functions of the software needed to burn the ISO file. Once you have Nero downloaded and installed you open up your “memtest86-3.2.iso” file into Nero so that you can burn the diagnostic program to CD.

You need to open the file in Nero a certain way to make to make sure that it burns the ISO file correctly. To do this, right click on the file and it will bring up a menu of options. You want to select the “Open With” option from the menu. Once you have selected this it will open an “Open With” dialog that will display all the software that are currently installed on your system

If you have installed Nero correctly you should be able to scroll down the list and select Nero and then click “OK”. If you like you an leave the “Always use this program to open these files” option checked [or add a check if it is not] and in the future your computer will know to always open ISO image files in Nero so you can burn them.

Once you have selected OK Nero will open automatically and take you to the “Image Recording - Write a premastered image” window. You can leave the options that are set at their defaults and then click the “next” button in the lower right hand corner.

At this point Nero should begin the “Burning Process” which will show you a percentage bar of how much time is left on the program for burning your CD. Since this is such a small file, the burn process should only take about 1 minute and then it will pop up with a window that says

Burn process completed successfully at 40x (6,000 KB/s)

Or something similar to that, you are mainly checking to make sure it says it completed successfully. Click ok on the success window and then click the “next” button in the lower right corner one more time to finish your diagnostic disc.

At this point the program should automatically eject your disc from the system at which point you can close down Nero since we are done using it. I would recommend putting the disc back into the system and then checking through Windows Explorer to make sure you see data on the disc as another method to verify the disc was burned successfully.

Through Windows Explorer click on your CD-Rom drive. If the data has been burned correctly you should see a “BOOT” folder on your CD. If this is there the diagnostic program has been burned correctly.

Once you have verified that your disc is good to go, you can leave it in the drive and reboot the system to start the memory diagnostic. I will only be giving a brief rundown of the program and interface since Memtest86 offers a comprehensive guide to their program on the page you downloaded the file from. If you want more information than what is included here please refer back to that page.

Running the Diagnostic Program:

The basic diagnostic screen has five main sections of relevant information. Three at the top which are labeled, PASS %, TEST %, and TEST #. This will basically show you the total progress of the current test, the overall progress of the diagnostic test, and the test number is currently performing.

On the middle left hand side of the of the program interface there is a “Wall Time” section that will keep track of how long the diagnostic test has been running for. This just gives you an idea if you are not attending the testing process.

The main section to look for is the lower half of the screen which is usually blank. As long as the memory testing is going ok with no errors this section of the screen should remain blank. If the diagnostic program finds any serious faults in the memory you will see it display a memory dump of address’s in this section. This is similar to what is displayed on your screen when you encounter a blue screen of death.

You now have most everything you need to know about setting up and testing your memory with diagnostic programs. This guide should help you get to the source of any intermittent problems related to your memory.


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13 Responses to “How to Use Memtest86 – Memtest 86 Tutorial & Guide”

  1. Sara M Says:

    This tutorial was helpful in getting the disk burned correctly - thanks very much. Unfortunately, it didn’t cover where we could go to look up what errors may show up, or how long the test should take to run. I guess it is not for a novice to memory testing.
    Thanks

  2. Sara M Says:

    I found some information I was looking for on this forum. Maybe it will hep others in addition to this.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/243679-31-question-memtest
    thanks.

  3. Jimmy Says:

    Not trying to be mean but Paul specifically said he wasn’t going to go over the details of the actual program himself, did you read this page fully. If you needed help/support why not try the main website of the program- http://www.memtest86.com? Usually when I have a problem or inquiry about software Im using, common sense tells me to research the problem (usually starting with the people that wrote the program) and go from there. They cover pretty much everything under the Technical Info tab but then again you wouldn’t know that if you’ve never been to the site…

  4. Joel Says:

    I have followed the instructions to create the bootable cd. I downloaded Nero trial, downloaded and extracted the iso file, clicked on it and told it to open Nero Burn and burned the cd. However I do NOT get a boot folder. Instead I get isolinux folder and three files - src_v35.tgz, src_v35.zip and readme.txt. I have done this three times with the same results. Any one have an idea what I am doing wrong? Thanks

  5. Ralf Says:

    Hi,

    I am new to this.. Is Memtest only testing ram, or is it also testing how the memory on the video card is doing and other motherboard faults?

    Thanks

  6. Paul Says:

    Ralf,

    Memtest is exclusively for testing system memory (RAM) and does not test GPU Memory or check for motherboard faults. For something like that you would want to use a “Burn-In” diagnostic program that will test numerous functions of your system. We use “Passmark Burn-In” which is a paid program but they may have a trial version you can download. You can also use programs like SandraSoft (SiSoftware) or utilities like those found on the “Ultimate Boot CD” to check other areas of your system like the motherboard and video card. Good luck!

    Paul

  7. blue screen!!! Says:

    [...] the pc with it. Let memtest run for about an hour. Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool How to Use Memtest86 Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  8. Eukifedea Says:

    Hi,
    I understand that memtest86 looks for errors in the RAM memory, but, does it fix them? If not, which is a recomended way to do this? Cheeeers

  9. Paul Says:

    Euki,

    Memtest86 & MS Memory Diagnostic are more for determining if a stick of memory is bad so you can either RMA the memory to the vendor / manufacturer or purchase new memory.

    Because the issue is with a physical piece of hardware rather than a software issue the Memtest software does not actually “correct” the problem. It simply lets you know that you have a problem and you probably want to replace that stick of memory through a RMA or a new purchase.

  10. GirlInGlasses Says:

    Thanks so much for this. The ReadMe file that comes with memtest86 is much harder on the eyeballs being a txt file without any formatting. This made the process quite simple. Would recommend http://download.cnet.com/Active-ISO-Burner/3000-2646_4-10602452.html?refresh=1285614304459 over Nero for this for those who, like me, needed the ISO burner but didn’t have the cash for the full version. Nero is large and clunky to install if all you want is the ISO burner.

  11. kelly Says:

    hi, thanks for this… i don’t have any disk drives on my computer, is it possible to still use memtest86 using an iso emulator?

  12. Paul Says:

    Hi Kelly,

    Potentially it could be using a software like Virtual Box from Oracle / Sun, and then loading the ISO of Memtest86 as bootable media in the Virtual Machine system options. The one consideration is, I do not know how the VM handles the hardware configuration. I am under the impression that resources are seen as “virtual” hardware so I don’t know if memory errors would present themselves in that case. Just a thought.

  13. Lucas (Italy) Says:

    I would like to thank Paul, for its Sept 11, 2009 tutorial on how to use Memtest86. It solved my problem. Thank you Paul for the time you took writing the very clear and detailed tutorial. Lucas

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