Does RAM go "bad"?

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
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Beach Cities, CA
I have mid-2010 17" MBP. I upgraded the original 4GB to 8GB back when I first bought it (June 2010). Lately, I've been a lot of random program freezing and sometimes it can lead to the entire thing be frozen. Random beach balls as well. And startup/shut down times are a bit slower than they were before. Is it possible that my RAM is contributing to this? And that it is going bad.

It's a Kingston RAM 4GBx2 DDR3 1067Mhz
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
I have mid-2010 17" MBP. I upgraded the original 4GB to 8GB back when I first bought it (June 2010). Lately, I've been a lot of random program freezing and sometimes it can lead to the entire thing be frozen. Random beach balls as well. And startup/shut down times are a bit slower than they were before. Is it possible that my RAM is contributing to this? And that it is going bad.

It's a Kingston RAM 4GBx2 DDR3 1067Mhz
Anything is possible, but if your RAM stick had failed, you would see less available RAM in Activity Monitor. It's also possible your drive could be failing, but before you look to hardware, there are some software possibilities to explore.

If you're having performance issues, this may help:
 

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
1,891
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Beach Cities, CA
Anything is possible, but if your RAM stick had failed, you would see less available RAM in Activity Monitor. It's also possible your drive could be failing, but before you look to hardware, there are some software possibilities to explore.

If you're having performance issues, this may help:
I just installed a brand-new SSD (Samsung 830) a couple days ago. I did, however, did a clone transfer. The original was previously a TM backup before it was restored.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
I just installed a brand-new SSD (Samsung 830) a couple days ago. I did, however, did a clone transfer. The original was previously a TM backup before it was restored.
I'd go through the performance tips, as many could still apply.
 

T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
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Denmark
I would also blame the disc.

Look in the Activitymonitor for increases read/write activity on the harddrive, whenever you get a beach ball. And look in the console for any information.
 

T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
5,076
4,364
Denmark
I'd be less inclined to suspect a brand new SSD, although defects can happen. I think it's more software related.
Yeah, I meant that I would blame the disc more than faulty RAM.. :) A bad clone transfer could certainly also be the case.

If I was the OP, I would try to do a reinstall and run for a few days without rolling in his backup, just to be sure.
 

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
1,891
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Beach Cities, CA
I would also blame the disc.

Look in the Activitymonitor for increases read/write activity on the harddrive, whenever you get a beach ball. And look in the console for any information.
I've had this prior to this SSD. Before this Samsung, I had a Crucial m4. And I've already taken account the increase in activity during the beach ball. In the Activity Monitor however, "java" and "web process" takes a lot of CPU. Both seem to struggle for it, but java always get the most. I don't know what this is since I've already turned off java in my safari security settings.

I'd go through the performance tips, as many could still apply.
Thanks. I went through them but those file folders were practically empty. I had already enabled to show hidden files. And I've seen this list before and have been doing some of the tips listed.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
In the Activity Monitor however, "java" and "web process" takes a lot of CPU. Both seem to struggle for it, but java always get the most. I don't know what this is since I've already turned off java in my safari security settings.
Follow every step of the following instructions precisely. Do not skip any steps.
  1. Launch Activity Monitor
  2. Change "My Processes" at the top to "All Processes"
  3. Click on the "% CPU" column heading once or twice, so the arrow points downward (highest values on top).
    (If that column isn't visible, right-click on the column headings and check it, NOT "CPU Time")
  4. Click on the System Memory tab at the bottom.
  5. Take a screen shot of the entire Activity Monitor window, then scroll down to see the rest of the list, take another screen shot
  6. Post your screenshots.
 

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
1,891
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Beach Cities, CA
Yeah, I meant that I would blame the disc more than faulty RAM.. :) A bad clone transfer could certainly also be the case.

If I was the OP, I would try to do a reinstall and run for a few days without rolling in his backup, just to be sure.
Another defect?! My Crucial m4 had some defect and Amazon was graciously enough to exchange it after 8months for this Samsung. I don't want to do another one. Application start-ups are faster, but that is the only good change I've seen.

Bad clone? Yeah, maybe this is it. I'm just too lazy to reinstall all my software.

Is a faulty, aging RAM really rare? I know 2 years is not long, but is there anyway to test if it is going bad?
 

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
1,891
2
Beach Cities, CA
Follow every step of the following instructions precisely. Do not skip any steps.
  1. Launch Activity Monitor
  2. Change "My Processes" at the top to "All Processes"
  3. Click on the "% CPU" column heading once or twice, so the arrow points downward (highest values on top).
    (If that column isn't visible, right-click on the column headings and check it, NOT "CPU Time")
  4. Click on the System Memory tab at the bottom.
  5. Take a screen shot of the entire Activity Monitor window, then scroll down to see the rest of the list, take another screen shot
  6. Post your screenshots.
I think I did this right. Odd thing is that when I start doing the screen shot, the cursor was extremely sluggish but as soon as it was done it returned to normal.

Seems like I have open? I have Safari, Mail, iTunes, Notes, Stickies open. Menutab utilities: dropbox, drop zone, crash plan pro, sophos av, Facebook tab, growl, growl hardware, free memory pro, air parrot, gfx card, insomiax, istats pro.

I tried to get them all in each shot

 
Last edited:

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
I think I did this right. Odd thing is that when I start doing the screen shot, the cursor was extremely sluggish but as soon as it was done it returned to normal.

Seems like I have open? I have Safari, Mail, iTunes, Notes, Stickies open. Menutab utilities: dropbox, drop zone, crash plan pro, sophos av, Facebook tab, growl, growl hardware, free memory pro, air parrot, gfx card, insomiax, istats pro.
Yep, you got the screen shots right. I have several observations.

  • I recommend that you avoid using Sophos, as it could actually increase your Mac's vulnerability, as described here and here. You don't need any 3rd party antivirus app to keep a Mac malware-free, as long as you practice safe computing, as described in the following link.

    Mac Virus/Malware FAQ

  • For the purposes of testing, shut down or uninstall Little Snitch and FreeMemory Pro. Also, disable your Safari extensions, except ClickToFlash. If you don't have that, get it.

  • Flash is notorious for consuming system resources, raising temps and decreasing battery life. For Flash-related issues:
    • Find your Flash version and make sure it's the latest version available. Never install or update Flash from a pop-up on a website. Always go to Adobe's site to get Flash or updates.
    • Install ClickToFlash (Safari), Flashblock (Firefox) or FlashBlock (Chrome) to control which Flash content plays on websites.
    • Try using the YouTube HTML5 Video Player to watch YouTube videos, when available. (May impact fullscreen viewing. See link for details.) Some have reported better performance with HTML5, while some have reported worse. Try it and find out what works best for you.

See how those changes affect performance.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
What's the reason for these 2 apps? Since they happen to be my most useful apps.
You don't need FreeMemory Pro at all. Mac OS X manages memory automatically, without the need for interference by the user or 3rd party apps. Little Snitch is a good app for specific uses, but it's not necessary to keep your Mac running well or secure. It can add to overhead, impacting performance of apps.
 

Mal

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2002
6,253
17
Orlando
Anything is possible, but if your RAM stick had failed, you would see less available RAM in Activity Monitor. It's also possible your drive could be failing, but before you look to hardware, there are some software possibilities to explore.

If you're having performance issues, this may help:
While I agree with pursuing the software route, bad RAM doesn't always cease to appear to the computer. I've seen plenty of failing RAM modules that still present themselves to the computer as available, but cause many of the problems mentioned by the OP. Usually what has happened is that some of the banks of RAM in the module are not responding correctly, so while the chip is shown as usable, when the computer sends information to it, the data is not stored correctly and the program freezes when it tries to access it again.

OP, definitely run the hardware test, and you can try removing one stick of RAM and then the other and running it with only one of your RAM sticks at a time in order to troubleshoot.

jW
 

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
1,891
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Beach Cities, CA
Test your RAM using Apple Hardware Test first. (press and hold D during start up)

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1509

Typing purge at the terminal does the same thing as the silly free memory apps.
I tried to do this option many times. I kept holding and pressing D as I would the option key. Nothing happened, it just kept starting up and into my login screen. REALLY SLOW (~45secs), but once logged in, the desktop and startup items are quick.

While I agree with pursuing the software route, bad RAM doesn't always cease to appear to the computer. I've seen plenty of failing RAM modules that still present themselves to the computer as available, but cause many of the problems mentioned by the OP. Usually what has happened is that some of the banks of RAM in the module are not responding correctly, so while the chip is shown as usable, when the computer sends information to it, the data is not stored correctly and the program freezes when it tries to access it again.

OP, definitely run the hardware test, and you can try removing one stick of RAM and then the other and running it with only one of your RAM sticks at a time in order to troubleshoot.

jW
Thanks.

I will try the one RAM stick at a time and see if it produces any results. The memtest terminal command said it was "ok" however.
 

thatoneguy82

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 23, 2008
1,891
2
Beach Cities, CA
Did the one stick at a time with memtest and it all came back okay. However, when I opened "Activity Monitor" the available memory was only 3.88GB instead (for both sticks) of the 4GB I was expecting since I usually see 8GB when I have 8GB installed.

One more thing to try is to wipe my drive and reinstall everything. I doubt it's a failing drive since it's not even a week old. I transferred via CCC, so maybe the issues came with it.