How-To Geek

Test Your Computer’s Memory Using Windows Vista Memory Diagnostic Tool

If you are an overclocker, or are just suspecting a memory problem with your computer, you should probably run some memory tests. Rather than spending money, you can use the free tool included in Windows Vista.

Using this tool will require a reboot, so keep that in mind before you launch it.

Type in memory into the start menu, and you should see the first option will say Memory Diagnostics Tool.

A dialog will pop up asking if you want to reboot and check for problems now, or check for problems the next time you restart.

If you choose to restart now, Vista will reboot into the memory diagnostic utility:

You can also get to this utility directly from the boot manager menu. You’ll notice it at the bottom of the window in the screenshot below:

Getting to it is a little strange, though, if you only have Vista installed on the machine. You’ll have to hold down F8 for the boot menu, and then hit Esc to get to the screen above.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/13/07

Comments (26)

  1. Lee Reeves


    That helped me verify that the additional memory for my MacBook Pro works with Windows Vista.

  2. Steve Bell

    If someone could help me. I ran the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool and after running it put a icon in my tray that is useless. If you pass over it, it will list the tool but left or right clicking does nothing. It is pointless to be in the tray but I can’t find a way to get rid of it. If someone can help me, I sure would appreciate it. My email address is Thanks in advance

  3. Sony

    Hi.. is there any way to run this particular memory test from within Windows XP like it’s being done in Vista. I am aware that there is Memory Diagnostic Tool that can be copied to a CD and then allowed to run at boot time.
    Many thanks for your help.

  4. Hemalatha

    I am facing lot of problmes with my laptop. its behaving abnormally.
    I got Vista with my laptop. the problme is when i restart manchine its not getting on, lights getting on and for few seconds there is a blink indicating reading of Harddisk thats it, and BIOS logo/HP logo is not coming. after trying several times only i am able to login into the system.

    and also blank screen is coming when system is up from Sleep, Hibernate.
    i dont know what is the exact problem, Hardware failure or Virus or problem with Vista…….?

  5. Raul

    Please Help me about rebooting my Sony Computers, since it show error when I Try to restart windows

  6. Wai Mun

    hey could some one help me???

    i got vista on my ASUS laptop and i ran this tool

    ever since i completed the tests the tool had been starting every time i boot

    i can’t get it off! anyone got this problem?? email me at

  7. Austen

    I have th same problem as Wai Mun, my ACER computer has vista on it, I ran Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool and its repeating over and over again. I cannot access my main menu, F8 does not show the Boot Manager window so i cant get to safe mode, I cannot esc from it. I just get the same blue screen running tests 1 of 2 over and over again, and when it finishes, it just runs again. I could solve the problem if I could get to a Command Line, but I can’t even get there.

    My laptop is comletely worthless with this running, any help at all would be appreciated, thanks.

  8. Tim

    I ran the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool (Windows Vista) and after running it put a icon in my tray by the clock. When I try to click on it nothing happens and I cant get rid of it. Every time I boot up my computer it’s always there. How do I get rid of this annoying icon? Email me at

  9. Computer Memory

    I have 4gigs on x64 Vista and the test passed.

  10. del

    I have 4 gigs on my laptop, just upgraded and it only shows 3070mb of memory. Am I being thick or does 4 gigs equal 4000 mb or is the computer only detecting 3 of them??

  11. Yonah

    Del, not all 4 gigs can be used. Goggle “Mark Russinovich Blog” for a detailed description as to why. Plus, with most laptops, part of your memory is allocated to the graphics card.

    You can not migrate this tool to Windows XP, but you can use a program called “MemTest86” which can be put onto a floppy disk or burned to a bootable CD.

  12. tradewins

    In response to Tim and Mike’s issues with notification area inactive icon. Have you tried > 1,right click notification area 2, select properties 3, select notification area 4, select hide inactive icons 5, select apply, then O.K and the inactive icon should disappear.
    Hope it helps

  13. Imzadi

    Hi all…I ran this after having my pc restart on its own yesterday. It says that hardware problems were detected and to contact the computer manufacturer…the problem is that this was a custom built pc not built by a manufacturer…so how do I figure out what the problem is? My other question is that I tried to restore the pc to an earlier point, but it freezes during the restore, and now the only screen I can get to is the Memory Diagnostic Tool. Any suggestions?

  14. Scott

    Seems no one on this forum has any answers, only more questions. But I’ll try anyway (and hope you all get help too). I ran mem Diag in Vista x64. It crashed, hung for about 48 hours and I ended up losing power for a shot time while it was loaded up and about 54% done running. Now I can not turn my computer on. Everytime I turn it on it tries to start, fans and light go on for about 2 seconds, then it powers down and pauses about 3 seconds before attempting it again. It automatically starts up on its own and tries to power up again (fans and lights for about 2 seconds) then failas and keep s this cycle going. if I let it, it would go on like that forever. I tried removing all but one stick of RAM, but to no avail. It still does it. Any suggestions?

  15. The Geek

    This is NOT a forum, this is a comment thread on an article.

    PLEASE leave your help questions on the FORUM, where people might actually answer your questions.

  16. Sam

    I’m on Asus running vista. Ran memory diagnosis once but found no problems and I can’t turn it off ever since, except to use “Esc” each time at start up. Anyone has any clue how to disable this and let me enjoy the Asus as it was before the stupid test? I have tried system restore to no avail. Unless there is a fix, seems better to leave vista alone and not fiddle with its purported ‘added features’. Its stupid, but this is a Microsoft product after all.

  17. BJay


    i have an asus and i recently turned it off and several hours later tried to turn it back on, but it now comes up with a screen saying windows memory diagnostic tool…if i select enter it goes to a screen thats has the safe mode option plus several other options, none of the options work when i select them they just make the screen go black and then return back to the windows memory diagnostic page. i checked for memory problems through the tool but nothing is working does anyone have any suggestions as to what i can do? i’m afraid to loose all my photos on the memory…help please

  18. hazed100

    Scott i would say you need to reset your CMOS as a starter to see if this is the problem

    most motherboards have dual bios these days but some have single or solo ones so its well worth resetting it all in case this is the problem

    in your manual there should be a reference to a CMOS jumper and a little routine you need to perform in order to flash it back to default. Usually it involves a simple 2 pin plug and a little plastic cover which you have to pull off of both pins, then replace covering only one pin and then replace over both pins again
    Dont ask me why they made this the way to do it but hey whos to question tech nerds?? :)
    when this is done you should find you can boot to the bios screen and then you’ll need to set all the parameters to the right ones again (usually they are all re-recognised and set back to how you had them -minus the possible errors hopefully)

    I had to do this with my Asus AN8-SLI a lot while overclocking memory and going too far, usually ending with a computer that wouldnt power up.
    Once the bios is reset it goes back to how it was when you bought the motherboard (dont worry if you have updated your bios to a later revision as this will not change)

    the other option if this doesnt work is either re-install your windows OS OVER the top of your current one- this will hopefully re-install any damaged or lost files you may have had -which stopped the boot process
    OR update the BIOS to the latest revision (this probably wont be possible until you get thew PC to boot at least to the bios splash screen or windows in safe mode but im not sure so check with motherboard manufacturers website)

    some use windows apps to flash bios others use dos or floppys on startup etc.

    Good luck all
    I think ill give this program a miss, sounds like a dangerous tool for vista use anyhow….

    B.Jay DONT WORRY ABOUT THE PHOTOS!! if you have a friend with a computer you can just remove your hard drive as it is now and plug it into his computer as a slave drive

    this will allow you to copy the lot over to his drive or DVDR’s. It should just act like a second drive as long as its not the master drive or the 1st to boot. (if it does start to boot first then remove it again and his comp will go back to how it was)
    Also if it is a small 2.5″ harddrive on a laptop then you might find this more tricky due to a desktop PC having the wrong connection (however new SATA drives should be ok or you could consider buying one of those external drive bays that turn an IDE or SATA hard drive into a USB removable HD. They dont write onto the harddrive initially so as long as you just plug it in and copy the stuff off it it shouldnt affect you when you put the hard drive back into your laptop)

    CONTACT ASUSTECH too as they are the best repair service ive ever used. They took my Asus AJ6A laptop with a broken screen and repaired/replaced it in 5 working days! good luck

  19. Chol

    I know this is a stupid question but I want to find differences.

    Is windows memory diagnostic tools count on BIOS (part of BIOS performance)?

  20. Jesse

    I have the start menu in Classic mode. How do I find this utility?

    Couldn’t find it in control panel, all programs, or accessories.

  21. Holman

    ok so i ran the diagnostic and i got no problems, but i recently deleted some video files from my pc ih which should have gaving me back some GB’s but it didnt :[ i dont see those GB’s or anything. how can i recover my memory? can anyone help? I suck at computers lol i got a sony vaio. my email is HolmanDuran@gmail.

  22. Jim

    I have 2 GB of memory on my computer. At one time I was “almost” sure that all 2 GB were cached (when looking at the Task Manager, PERFORMANCE. For some reason, now…. my Performance is only showing about 1.5 GB as being cached. I ran the Memory Diagnostics test and it indicated no problems during the run. It also stated that the results wiould come up after I logged back on. After the computer cycled back on…. I never say any Results from the test. During the test the YELLOW text alwasy said ther was no problems yet.

    I guess my question is how to display the results after the computer cycles back on.
    . Thanks.

  23. Metrotek

    I don’t have a memory diagnostics tool in my Vista Home Premium 64 bit? What gives with this?

  24. funnny

    Help. I have no idea how to solve my problem. I figured if i posted in a comment on a random blog from 2007 it might help????!!?!? I CAN HAS HELP?!?!?!??! HAHHAAH

  25. LOL

    I needs helpz too.

  26. hkQQ2010

    Many thanks.

    It is really the simplest method to test memory.

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