How I fixed memory slot failure

posted in: Hardware, Laptop hacks | 63

Is it possible to fix laptop memory slot failure with a guitar pick? Yes, it is. You will not fix the memory slot itself, but you can work around the problem. :)
Today I received a Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600 laptop with the following complaint:

The laptop starts and works properly, but recognizes only one of the two memory modules installed. The laptop has two 256MB RAM modules installed, but registers only 256MB.


Two memory modules

First of all, I removed the memory cover to find out if both memory modules are installed correctly. The laptop had two 256MB Kingston modules installed and they were seated properly.

256MB memory detected

When I started the laptop and entered the BIOS setup menu, I found that only one of the two memory modules is detected and the laptop registers only 256MB (262144KB) of RAM instead of 512MB (524288KB).
Just a side note. In the computer world 1MB=1024KB. That’s why 256MB=262144KB and 512MB=524288KB.

I tried reseating both memory modules but it didn’t help.
After that I tried installing both memory modules in both memory slots one by one and here’s what I found. The laptop worked absolutely fine when both memory modules were installed into the slot A, but failed to boot with both memory modules installed into the slot B.
Apparently, there is nothing wrong with the memory modules and the laptop has a faulty memory slot B. The memory slot is permanently soldered on the motherboard. If one of the slots fails you’ll have to replace the whole motherboard or use the laptop with only one working slot.
Buying a new motherboard for this older laptop wouldn’t make any sense because it’s too expensive, but the laptop is still in a good working condition except the faulty memory slot B, so I continued playing with that trying to find the solution.

press on memory module

I noticed that the laptop start normally with the memory module installed into the faulty slot if I slightly press on the module with my thumb. And this gave me an idea.

guitar pick

This guitar pick is going to fix my laptop. :)

install guitar pick

I installed both RAM modules back into the slots and then placed the guitar pick over the module in the slot B as it shown on the picture.

close memory door

I thought if I close the RAM door it will press on the guitar pick/memory module and it will have the same effect as pressing on the module with my thumb. And it worked!

512MB memory detected

Both memory modules were detected properly and the laptop registered all 512MB. After “the fix” I tested memory with Memtest86+ and the laptop passed the test.
I wouldn’t call it the best solution for fixing a faulty memory slot but in some cases it will work.

By the way, I didn’t charge the customer for this “repair”, he knows what is going on and how I “fixed” his problem.

63 Responses

  1. Hi, So I had the same problem with an old VAIO PCG FX250. Each slot will take 256 for 512 MAX, but only one slot was reading 256. I tried the guitar pick as you suggested, now it reads 512!!!!!! This is a milestone and came after many many disappointments. Thank for posting this and thinking outside the box! Little victories like this can make your day with vintage equipment. I do appreciate it. I have to run and tell my friends now.

  2. Oh boy… What if your guitar pick jumps out the hole, gets into another memory slot and knocks down another memory? You end up with two faulty memory slots? If memory slot fails it’s still safer to either resolder (should you have an access to soldering station) or, in case you want a home-baked solution use antistatic spacer (this foamy thing they sometimes use to keep harddrives in place). Guitar pick is a VERY temporary solution.

  3. Seyyid

    Mine was bad and after a while I tried putting a ram in the faulty slot and voila! it worked jst like that

  4. Thanks a million!!!! It worked. I had a bad memory slot so my computer was reading only 2GB (half of the upgrade)I didn’t have a guitar pick so I just had a thick paper folded to press the Ram down and there it was. My computer read 4GB. I almost thought of buying a new computer when I was told by technical support that I need to get the motherboard fixed, and you saved me!

  5. Alan Barton

    Been searching the net to solve this problem of slot B, didn’t have a pick so cut off the end from a plastic plant label! Worked a treat!!!!!!!!


    I have a question but not a comment.I am also a tech guy in my country (Ghana). I will like to know whether its possible to connect a desktop computer from its VGA which is working to a laptop PC to its VGA which is also working and give a command for the desktop to use the laptop LCD screen as its monitor.I have tried several times but I did not succeed.

  7. woo nice trick… i have dell latitude c600… i put all the memory first boot run ok, after get in window, it suddenly blue screen…. i tought that the momery broken, i replace with the other, it happen again… blue screen memory dumping…. will try this trique…

  8. Avalan4e

    pfff. i got an old machine with same thing. sometimes it stucks on black screen when i turned it on. then i was messing arround in what can be the prob. and when i found out that its ddr slot, i was thinking, maybe trade somewhere x2 128 for 1 256 or 512, but dude…. u made my life easier. Good luck :)

  9. Thank you so much!! This worked for me and my beloved old Gateway laptop :-)

  10. Joseph,

    Probably this is the memory slot failure.

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