Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Memory = the source of many problems!

For the last several months, I had numerous problems with my old G4 AGP dual 1.2, which has been as upgraded just about as far as it can go. The problems included recurrent program crashes (especially Safari) and random kernel panics.

I used a little utility called Rember and discovered that a few memory sticks I had were bad. Tech Tool Pro (grumble, grumble) did not catch these errors, so if you think you're having memory issues, please run another utility (apparently, the hardware test disc Apple ships with newer Macs can catch these problems too). You can also run Memtest (which is really the command-line basis of Rember); the author charges $1 to download it (very reasonable given that you can boot in single-user to test MOST of your RAM).

In my case, Memtest wasn't necessary. Rember caught the defective RAM right away, and I narrowed it down to 2 sticks by pulling them one at a time, restarting, and testing with Rember until the errors were gone.

I had 2 bad DIMMs--one at 128 MB and another at 512 MB. So I ordered 2 new 512 MB sticks from OWC (with lifetime warranty). The new memory checked out fine with Rember, and I've had no kernel panics or other major issues since installing it. The old Mac is rock-solid!

Now, how did this happen? I think a Tiger update somewhere down the line didn't agree with those two older RAM sticks. The lesson is to suspect bad RAM (or other hardware) if you're having weird crashes and random panics suddenly.

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