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I am looking for recommendations of software that can be used to help debug hardware problems. This kind of software should be able to run against a computer when connected to one of the ports (or run from CD or USB stick) and obtain hardware data from the computer without requiring either: 1. anyone to first login to the computer, or 2. having to make any modifications to the computer in advance

The software can be either commercial or non-commercial (freeware or open source). I don't want to specify an upper limit for the price however as I don't want to inadvertently remove possible answers.

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MemTest86 is the de-facto standard

  • for testing the physical RAM.
  • It runs from a USB stick or CD and starts automatically
  • is available for free or in commercial editions (never tried these)

Test your RAM before testing anything else. A hardware driver for anything else may fail due to faulty RAM.

Unreliable RAM can cause a multitude of problems. Corrupted data, crashes and unexplained behaviour. Bad RAM is one of the most frustrating computer problems to have as symptoms are often random and hard to pin down.

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