I just made an amazing discovery. A friend brought in a computer than suddenly had stopped booting. It was a laptop that powered up, but then died without ever showing the BIOS splash screen.
The machine was six years old, and I feared the motherboard had fried itself. Sometimes the video connection going out to the screen can short out and take the MB down with it. And I knew her machine has a USB bus that is on its way out, so I thought that might be the source of the problem.
But what I did was flip the machine over and take out the RAM module. I then took a pencil and used its eraser to clean the contacts really well. I brushed the contacts off and replaced the stick, then turned the machine on. It booted right up.
There are few things a functioning motherboard needs to boot up. It can do so without video, mouse or, usually, keyboard. But the one thing it absolutely requires is memory. So if the contacts are dirty or oxidized, that’s a wrench thrown into the works.
My friend was delighted to have her machine back. But here’s the amazing part, that even I didn’t anticipate. As we were playing around with the machine, changing some settings and whatnot, we discovered that the machine was now lightning fast. I really do mean that it was fast. It’s an old Pentium 4 Dell, with only 1.25GB of Ram, but the thing was absolutely flying.
It turns out that that RAM connection didn’t just die suddenly, it had been dying a slow death. Who knows how long it was at 40%, then 25%, then 10%, before it finally dropped under radar entirely. And so now, with the connections cleaned up, the bottleneck was off the machine like never before.
That settles it for me. When I do tune ups from now on, I’m going to clean the RAM as a matter of course. The benefits are simply amazing.