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How can I check my RAM and harddrive for errors?

Lately, I have been experiencing problems using an Apple (macbook pro 3,1 2GB ram) with Natty installed. In three consecutive occasions/days, the system has started to go extremely slow; running out of memory; using the swap a lot...., after searching and browsing a lot of images in images.google and facebook, and saving some from time to time.

Acording to top, Xorg was using from 35 to 60% of memory. But even after closing every single program launched from the GUI, the system continued to be extremely slow, and little mem appeared as free (Why can this hapen?). The last day this happened, the root partition was unmounted.

I suspected there could be a mem. or hard disk failure. So, after that issue, I ran memtest at boot time (which, by the way, cannot be controlled with the keyboard in this install --does that happen in all Macs?) and, after 8 passes, it showed some errors: it displayed "8 errors", but (why?) the count details, in the red error-lines of output, showed what seemed to be 10 errors: 1 in test 6, pass #4; and 9 between tests 5 and 6 in pass #5. That's all.

After booting again, I was asked if I wanted to fix errors in the disk. I answered 'F' (fix - not manual) and the system booted ok. I think dmesg shows no errors now.

The system continues to work fine (as long as I don't browse too many photos with firefox or don't stress it too much).

I want to know how are the memory chipsets and the Hard Disk. For that, I want to know:

  1. How much can I rely on those memtest results? Is it more or less normal to have errors in memtest with a fine mem chipset? Should I perform further tests? Could a faulty memory give all those symptoms?.

  2. What is a good way to check the HD and what to do afterwards? I want to know if there are bad blocks marked and check the root partition again. It is type 83 (according to all '?fdisk' commands) or ext4 (according to mount). The other partitions in the HD are swap, a fat32 and Apple's filesystem: HFS+

marked as duplicate by Jorge Castro, stephenmyall, belacqua, Scott Severance, Ringtail Nov 9 '12 at 4:12

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  • yes you are right !! your hard disk is the culprit !! check your hard disk for problems softwares like gparted can help you for this purpose – swapyonubuntu Nov 7 '12 at 18:30
  • Do you think I should discard faulty memory? I would like to check the HD too, but how? And ... should I only check if there are errors (there aren't since the system booted without complain), check if there are bad blocks marked (as a signal that HD is starting to fail)? Check for badblocks? Mark badblocks?,..... I would be grateful for a complete (holistic) answer. – Robert Vila Nov 7 '12 at 18:37
  • I would like to install a new Ubuntu version in this computer, but I have to solve these issues before. – Robert Vila Nov 8 '12 at 3:52
  • Ok. I am sorry but I am going to sleep now. See you tomorrow. I hope I have more luck in here tomorrow. – Robert Vila Nov 8 '12 at 5:23
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    That question will show you how to check the drive. Looks like your RAM does need to be replaced though. – Jorge Castro Nov 8 '12 at 21:34