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Unrecognized RAM?

By risingTide · 19 replies
Apr 7, 2008
  1. Greetings,

    First the specs:

    Toshiba Satellite L25 - S1192
    1 stick of 256 MB
    2 sticks of 1 GB to upgrade
    Celeron Processor
    Windows XP Home

    My friend has the laptop described above with just 512 MB of ram. Wanting to speed it up a bit, he bought a 1 GB stick and tried to simply swap them (I'm not sure if he knew that this model has two slots or not). After swapping them the computer no longer booted at all. So he decided to swap them back, thus putting in the original 512 MB. Well, alas...the computer still wouldn't boot at all.

    Enter me. Now I've tried to use both of these different sticks in various combinations of the two slots and no matter which way I do it I get the same behavior:

    I turn the computer on...it goes through a brief Toshiba startup screen. It then comes to the WIndows startup page saying that windows shut down incorrectly last time, etc...please choose Normal Configuration, Safe Mode, etc. If I choose any configuration other than Safe Mode, it immediately freezes and that's it. If I choose Safe Mode, it loads the drivers and then freezes and that's it.

    One other thing to note...going into the BIOS reveals this for the amount of System Memory: 640 KB

    Now I'm thinking maybe that for some reason the laptop just stopped recognizing RAM completely? Could that be it, and if so what should I do?

    Thanks so much for your time!
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    I don't think you are looking at the right area
    640K is for the upper memory block designated amount.

    Try these two options

    Remove all power source (ie power cord and battery on laptops)
    Hold in the front ON button for 30secs
    Put the power cord back in
    Try again

    Failing that try Check Disk from Safe Mode (you can also run chkdsk from your Windows CD)

    Please try this:

    Manual steps to run Chkdsk from My Computer or Windows Explorer
    • Open My Computer, and then right-click the hard disk that you want to check.
    • Click Properties, and then click Tools.
    • Under Error-checking, click Check Now. A dialog box that shows the Check disk options is displayed
    Use one of the following procedures:
    • • To run Chkdsk in read-only mode, click Start.
    • • To repair errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, select the Automatically fix file system errors check box, and then click Start. (tick)
    • • To repair errors, locate bad sectors, and recover readable information, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box.

    Note If one or more of the files on the hard disk are open, you will receive the following message:
    Click Yes to schedule the disk check, and then restart your computer to start the disk check.

    Wait until Chkdsk finishes Checking / Repairing any faults
    Windows will then either restart your computer or continue loading Normally.
  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Consider, also, damage done to the memory slots during retraction and insertion.
  4. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Greetings (after a hiatus),

    I tried the first option of holding down the ON button for 30 secs but that did nothing. So I moved on to the Check Disk option...

    Because I can't get Windows to startup at all (that's the problem) even from Safe Mode, I installed an XP CD and booted from that. I went into the recovery mode and got to the C: prompt and ran a Check Disk from there. It wouldn't run it without the /R parameter because it said it was okay. However, I ran it with the /R parameter and it did say that it found and fixed an error (or more). So I rebooted...and nothing has changed. The behaviour below is still happening.

    What should I try next?

    Many thanks!!
  5. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 872   +12

    Check Disk may find an error and try to repair the error but it still may not set things right. I suspect if you ran the test again you'd get yet another error and it would try to fix it again and the computer would still not boot. I'd try testing the memory for errors at this point. I'd borrow a friends computer and download and burn Memtest+ to a CD. I'd then make sure my laptop was set to boot from my optical drive, and I'd put the burned CD into the drive and allow the computer to boot into it. I'd let the test run for seven complete passes. I usually run this test over night or less if errors are easy to come by. If after seven complete passes you still had no errors I'd consider the memory good and move on to testing the hard drive with the manufacturer's testing utility.
  6. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Hmm...I tried downloading this file - "Download - Pre-Compiled Bootable ISO (.zip)" from that link.

    I unzipped it and copied the ISO file from it onto a CD, but the laptop won't boot from it. It seems as if it doesn't read it because it goes straight into the Windows Startup Screen asking to Start Windows Normally, etc. just like before.

    What have I done wrong?
  7. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Not exactly copy.

    You need to burn the image to CD via Nero or UltraISO or any other burning software. This will create the boot part of the disc too.
  8. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Ah! Nice one. Got it working now. It began the test.

    For the L1 Cache it says: 64 K.
    For the L2 Cache it says: 1024K.
    And the total is 1918M.

    I have two slots with 1GB of DDR2 in each slot.
    So what exactly am I looking for during this memory test? I've never done one of these before.

  9. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 872   +12

    You have to let the test run for seven complete passes which should take many hours. What you're looking for is any red messages that appear at the bottom of the screen. Any red error messages will mean one or more of your dimms is broken and needs to be replaced.

    You have less memory than expected because your video card has taken part of your memory for its' usage.
  10. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

  11. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Well, I let it run for 7 passes over night and there were no errors at all. This makes sense since the behaviour on startup was the same when replacing the new ram back with the old. What's the next step?
  12. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 872   +12

    The next step is to check your hard drive with the manufacturer's disk check utility.

    I can't find a Toshiba hard drive utility or I'd have provided the link by now.
  13. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Okay...since Toshiba doesn't have a disk check utility I used another one that was recommended from a different post on TechSpot: Hitachi's Drive Fitness Test.

    It was supposed to work with many drives types and it did indeed work with this Toshiba drive. And...it found no errors even in the advanced test. Which makes sense because swapping RAM wasn't likely to hurt a previously working hard drive (although stranger things have happened).

    So the RAM is okay and so is the Hard Drive. What's next?

    Thanks for your time!
  14. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

  15. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Well, I've tried to do the Repair install following those instructions exactly...but it hangs at the "35 Minute Remaining" mark when it tries to do the install. And when I shut it down to try again it just keeps hanging at that mark every time I try it again. I've tried 7 or 8 times. Any ideas? I really don't want to lose the data...

  16. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    If the data on the drive is important, I would first save all the data if I can.
    A new drive is only $40 to $70 on Directron, NewEgg, TigerDirect, or ZipZoomFly, and the data is probably worth more than that.
    I would install a new drive as master and that one as slave. Then drag and drop all the data before proceed.
    You may have a bad drive, or just a glitch that requires a complete reformat and reinstall... but why risk the data.
    The Repair mode is pretty rigorous, and yet couldn't win.
    I would run a full drive fitness test from the manufacturer, or from Hitachi, or from Seagate.
    Then I would Save all the data then do a full remove and restore partition, then reinstall Windows to see how it goes... save it for another computer, or use it as the backup data drive as a slave.
    If you don't save the data soon, you may not be able to do so at all.
  17. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Well, I have run Hitachi's DFT already (see above) and it didn't find anything. But I am thinking that I just need to get the data next to be on the safe side. Is there anything special I have to know about working with a laptap hard drive? Can I make it a slave to my desktop to get the data?

    I feel silly asking that, but I haven't worked with laptops before.
  18. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Also (see above), if you look at the original problem...why would new RAM cause this problem...and especially why would putting the old RAM back in will not work?
  19. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    It doesn't take much pressure to bugger things up... but also check other cables and connectors to assure than something else didn't go rong and the same time.
  20. risingTide

    risingTide TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 101

    Well, we copied over the data so we're safe there. Unfortunately my friend is moving so I had to give his laptop back to him...I think at this point he is just going to try to reinstall windows from scratch. I hate ending a thread with that solution, but that's how it goes this time.

    Thanks for everyone's help!
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