One stick good, two sticks bad

Mac Format - - APPLETALK -

Q I have a prob­lem on my 27-inch iMac that is driv­ing me crazy. Three weeks ago I sud­denly had a ker­nel panic and the iMac crashed. At first I thought it was a soft­ware prob­lem, but af­ter re­boot­ing it con­tin­ued to crash ev­ery few min­utes re­gard­less of what apps I had open at the time. I have re­in­stalled Yosemite, but that hasn’t made any dif­fer­ence. Then I re­mem­bered some­thing you have said in these pages and tried tak­ing out one of the RAM sticks. With just one in­stalled the sys­tem runs fine (although slower, ob­vi­ously). And it doesn’t mat­ter which one I use – ei­ther one on its own is fine. Both to­gether cause ker­nel pan­ics in­side of ten min­utes from boot­ing up. How is this pos­si­ble? Mark Hard­wick

A There are re­ally only two pos­si­bil­i­ties: ei­ther there is some strange con­flict that causes this par­tic­u­lar com­bi­na­tion of RAM mod­ules to fail when both are in­stalled, or there is a fault on the moth­er­board. The sec­ond op­tion could be some­thing as sim­ple as a faulty con­tact on one of the RAM sock­ets. Turn your iMac off, re­move the RAM and make sure there is no fluff caught in the sock­ets. Then check none of the lit­tle gold con­tacts are bent or out of line with the oth­ers. You can also try dip­ping a cot­ton bud in vodka or gin and us­ing it to swab the con­nec­tors. If that doesn’t help, try re­plac­ing both RAM sticks with a known good pair. 8GB should cost un­der £50 from www.cru­cial.com.

Faulty RAM sock­ets could be a cause of ran­dom ker­nel pan­ics, so check that they're clean and fluff-free.

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