At a Glance
- Fast, efficient, thorough, free
This free, self-booting utility is as thorough and effective a memory testing program as you’ll find.
I’ve been using Memtest86 and its successor Memtest86+ for so
long now, it’s hard to remember when I started; a decade ago to be
sure. Memtest86+, as you might guess from the moniker, is a memory
checking program that runs a battery of memory tests including
random numbers, moving inversions, bulk writes, etc.
Memtest86+ boots and runs automatically. It continues running
until you stop it, so it’s highly useful for CPU and memory
burn-ins, as well as spotting memory problems that only show up
after a system has heated up. The interface, if it could be called
such (you don’t interface with it except to quit, and you may end
it by simply turning off your PC) is character-based (DOS-like) and
tells you everything you need to know. If you see red, your memory
has problems; otherwise your memory is fine.
I’ve used Memtest86+ on literally hundreds of PCs, both for
memory and CPU burn-in and tracking down memory issues (which
generally present themselves mysteriously as blue screens and
random lockups). It’s never failed to find a memory problem. It
even shows you the problem addresses so you can determine which
module is at fault.
Memtest86+ downloads as a 70KB zip file that expands to about a
2MB .iso and no, that’s not a typo–it’s lightweight and then some.
Burn it to CD, boot it, watch it, and that’s it. There’s also a
version for floppy and one that will install on a USB thumb
drive–both equally as small.
Memtest86+ is so useful, it’s even included on the Parted Magic and
Slax Linux boot discs to troubleshoot what might appear to be
installation issues. It’s an absolute must-have for any PC toolbox.
The team accepts donations so throw a couple of bucks their way if
you get a chance.