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I did a memory test with memtest86 on boot, and I'm seeing this:

memtest showing 18 million errors during 1st pass

Is my RAM defective?

PS : My Ubuntu PC doesn't boot. Shows options in GRUB and then says there are errors in / and failed loading /tmp. My hard-drive was replaced with a new one and I still get this. So I was wondering if it's the memory that needs replacement.

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Try removing the RAM, and clean the gold ends with a pencil eraser. – Mitch Aug 26 '12 at 10:21
Doesn't pencil eraser (depending on the kind of rubber) leave a rubber film on the contacts, which will in turn soil the socket contacts? I know of using thinner or isopropyl alcohol for cleaning contacts but never heard of using pencil eraser. – LiveWireBT Aug 26 '12 at 11:09
If you have more than one module, run them in the first socket one at a time in memtest. – Mateo Aug 26 '12 at 12:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you have errors (you have above 18 million in the screenshot) your RAM is bad. Your RAM is likely to be good when the first pass finished without errors e.g. there is nothing red on the screen except the plus sign of the Memtest logo.

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Yes. You can be lucky and it could be caused by a wrong connection, so remove the RAM clean it, plug it in and check again. But don't count on it, you will likely need to replace it.

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That could be possible, but it is unlikely. If RAM is not properly installed in the socket it will cause problems. If it is properly installed the force of the socket pins should establish a safe connection that endures minor shocks and oxidation. Unless the RAM hasn't been removed recently, it is very likely to be the memory cells itself, not the contacts. – LiveWireBT Aug 26 '12 at 11:26
Agree, it' unlikely, but you should check it anyway before replacing RAM. Chances per cost (both very low) are quite good ;). – Javier Rivera Aug 27 '12 at 6:48

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