Browse Definitions:

hard error

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A hard error is an issue in RAM that results from a permanent physical flaw in the module caused by a hardware failure or defect.

Hard errors can manifest as a memory module that does not register on start and prevents booting. They can also produce intermittent data corruption, in which case they can require multiple tests and reboots to differentiate them from soft errors.

When troubleshooting suspected hard errors, it is usually advisable to test RAM that is known to function at its default timings, which enables fast confirmation of hardware issues. RAM may be tested a stick at a time to find the faulty module then. If neither sets of RAM function correctly, you should verify that the timings are correct. Timings for RAM may be tried on default SPD  settings, which can be researched by looking up a particular model or manufacturer’s recommendations. You can use a free memory testing programs, such as memtest86+, or the memory test provided with your operating system.  

Sometimes RAM with hardware degradation or just not performing to specification can be made to work at slower settings. If the issue persists, however, it may be that the CPU or motherboard needs replacing or on the other hand, a BIOS/UEFI update may be required to better support the modules.

This was last updated in July 2015

Continue Reading About hard error

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...



  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...


  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.

  • external storage device

    An external storage device, also referred to as auxiliary storage and secondary storage, is a device that contains all the ...

  • NetApp SolidFire

    NetApp SolidFire is a business division of NetApp Inc. that specializes in all-flash storage systems.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.