How Long Does RAM Last? (Will Memory Sticks Last Long?)

RAM is one of the most vital parts of a PC operation. Just like in the absence of the CPU, a PC will not run without its memory. But being one of the PC components that is used the most, memory is also one of the most durable PC parts in a computer system. Among the other hardware components, RAM sticks have one of the longest lifespans.

Close-up photo of RAM

So how long does RAM last? There is no definitive answer, this is due to several factors. If it’s well taken care of, RAM modules can physically last for up to ten years or more based on their average lifespan. But the physical lifespan of the memory is not the only thing to consider in terms of how long does RAM last. There is also the RAM’s performance lifespan, in which we measure how long it will remain usable.

How to Measure the RAM’s Lifespan

To answer the question of “how long does computer ram last?” we must first break down the two most important factors. The longevity of the RAM is measured using two factors: 1.) Physical Lifespan; and 2.) Performance Lifespan. These two factors have totally different ways of measuring the lifespan of each RAM module.

To discuss further, below are a more thorough explanation of the two.

RAM’s Physical Lifespan

With regards to RAM’s physical lifespan, it will work for as long as you need them. As long as it is handled properly, they are built to last for a very long period of time. If you go looking on some online retail websites, you might be surprised to find older memory modules available. Even ones that were introduced almost 2 decades ago, like the DDR and DDR2 RAM modules. A solid proof that RAM is among the most durable components of a PC.

RAM’s Performance Lifespan

The performance lifespan of memory on the other hand differs from its physical lifespan. This time, the RAM will be measured according to its usefulness after a longer period of usage. This is because applications grow increasingly demanding over the years, and thus require better RAM.

Usually, the lifespan of memory could last up to five years or more. It varies on different factors. Though as long as there are no new generations of RAM being released, your RAM modules should still be reusable.

How Long Does High-end RAM last?

High-end RAM are those sticks with higher RAM speed and lower latency. They are also heavy-duty, capable of overclocking, and are not prone to overheating due to quality heatsinks. These are some of the best RAM available on the market and are popular for use in gaming PCs and Video-editing/Rendering PCs alike.

4 sticks of Black and Silver TridentZ RAM

In terms of their usability, they usually last longer than regular RAM sticks, due to their high speed. They can also last longer physically since they are generally higher quality and offer better cooling compared with normal RAM sticks.

Signs of RAM Failure

Despite being durable, RAM’s usability can also decrease due to improper use. Some common signs may include BSOD or Blue Screen of Death, which is the most common symptom, and/or system crashes, especially when doing heavy tasks, which include gaming and video editing.

During this time, your computer may suffer from frequent random system shutdowns or reboots. You might also hear repeating beeps during bootup, which can be a sign of either bad or dead RAM modules. If you ever wind up experiencing these issues, you should get your PC checked out to avoid more problems.

Factors that Affect RAM Lifespan

Improper use of RAM can drastically decrease its longevity. If you don’t want to end up with dead RAM, below are the common risk factors that you may want to avoid.

  • Bad Hardware Handling Static electricity buildup is a main concern around sensitive electronics, especially in dry areas with carpet and fabric. These built up electrical charges can damage your computer’s internal components, including your RAM. So before touching any of your components, make sure to discharge first by touching any metal for at least 10-15 seconds. You can also buy an anti-static wrist wrap for relatively low cost.
  • Natural Wear and Tear Nothing lasts forever, not even RAM. Every piece of hardware that we own will degrade eventually, this is the outcome of the wear sustained from constant use. When a component dies due to wear and tear, it’s your hardware’s way of telling you that you need to replace it.
  • Power Surge Similar to static charges, power surges can also harm all your components, not just the RAM. It happens when there is a surge of electricity caused by either lighting or when from the spike in power when it comes back after a sudden power outage.
  • Cheap Power Supply Bad power supplies are known to put your parts at risk, and damage your components over time. This can happen from bad voltage regulation, or from an internal power surge due to cheap capacitors failing.

Gray Power Supply sitting on a table

  • Improper Overclocking When we overclock our memory, raising voltage isn’t uncommon. But there’s a limit. Applying too much voltage may damage your RAM in the long run.
  • Poor Environment A proper environment for our PC is important for the performance and longevity of our components. Having too much dust, not enough airflow, or keeping your PC near a heat source are all detrimental to performance and longevity.
  • High Temperatures Frequent use of your PC under high temperatures for long periods of time will surely shorten your RAM’s lifespan, as it will eventually damage all the delicate parts on the memory, especially the RAM chips.
  • Factory Defects Factory defects are damages that occur on the RAM module during the manufacturing process. While factory defects are not common, they are not entirely unavoidable. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Fortunately, you can have them sent for an RMA for a replacement.
  • Short Circuits Using poor power outlets or power strips on your computer could result in a short circuit. Not only it will damage your hardware, but it’s also a fire hazard. Luckily, modern motherboards are built to shut down automatically if it detects an abnormality in electricity.

Will a Computer Run After RAM Failure?

Since memory is vital for PC operation, it will not be possible for a computer to run with dead RAM. This is because there is will be nothing there to store all the needed files and data in the absence of the memory when running a computer. If this is the case, you might not be able to boot at all, or your PC will give you memory-related errors.

Windows Blue Screen of Death

However, if your computer is running on more than one memory found in the other ram slots, you may still be able to use your computer, but the dead RAM stick will not get detected as it is already dead.

What Can be Done to Avoid RAM Failure?

Despite all these symptoms and causes of RAM failure, there are still some ways that you can take to avoid these all from happening. Below are the most common steps on how you can prevent such situations.

Choose RAM from Reputable Brands

I cannot stress this enough. Always get your RAM from known and reputable brands. Buying a memory from sketchy manufacturers may save you a little bit of money at first, but it will cost you more in the long run. You don’t want to buy these RAM sticks as they are of poor quality, and may not last long compared to other brands of RAM.

Red stick of G.Skill Ripjaws V RAM

Keep Your Computer Safe Against Power Surges

One way of keeping your computer safe against power surges is by investing in a quality UPS, as they have a built-in power-surge protector, which is good for your PC. A high-quality power strip with anti-surge is also a good idea. Again, never take the safety of your computer for granted.

Maintain Low-temperature

Using your computer at a high temperature is also not advisable as it will cause your RAM to wear faster and shorten its lifespan. You must also avoid your other components getting too hot as this will also affect all the other parts on your PC.

In order to avoid this from happening, make sure that your PC is well-ventilated by installing quality fans, and make sure your computer is away from any heat sources. Also, make sure to clean your PC and check whether the fans or radiators are dust-free.

Avoid RAM Overclocking

You must also avoid overclocking your RAM, especially if you do not know what you are doing. It’s just not worth it to risk your hard-earned hardware in exchange for over a little performance gain. You may also shorten your RAM life expectancy through overclocking.

But if you really want to overclock your RAM, as it is also needed for CPU overclocking, make sure that you have the right parts for it. This includes sufficient cooling and a good quality power supply.

Protect Your Computer From Static Charges

Static charges can be found anywhere, especially in our bodies and other metal objects. Be extra careful in dry climates, and around carpets and fabric, when handling the RAM.

To avoid damaging your components, make sure to discharge yourself first through grounding. This can be done by touching another metal object. Also make sure to place your components on top of static-free mats. You may also use the boxes that came with your motherboard or GPU. Or to avoid any inconvenience, just wear an anti-static wrist strap.

Maintain Your PC on a Regular Basis

Regular maintenance on your PC must also be done to make sure that all your components, including the RAM, are running well. You can also maintain your computer’s performance by uninstalling any unnecessary applications that you don’t need.

Place Your Computer in a Good Environment

Last but not least, make sure of the proper placement of your PC. This can be done by making sure that your PC is away from dust, as it can clog all your fans. Also, try to place your computer in a cool environment as this will have a direct impact on your computer’s overall temperature. Too much heat can reduce your RAM lifespan.

Is it Necessary to Purchase New RAM if the Old One is Still Functional?

There’s really no reason to buy a new set of RAM if your old one still works. Otherwise, it’ll be like throwing your money away. Although in some cases, if you feel that your old RAM is in need of an upgrade or your new hardware requires a different generation of RAM, then it’s time to purchase new sticks.

Corsair Vengeance LPX RAM

 

Below are some of the signs when to buy a new RAM:

  1. Memory Upgrade Upgrading your memory with to a larger capacity is a no-brainer if you feel that your current sticks are already struggling with your daily tasks. If you are currently running on a single stick, single-channel set-up, you can double your capacity and take advantage of dual-channel mode by buying an identical module. Buying another model of memory may still work, but it is recommended that you use identical modules.
  2. Upgrading to Higher Clock Speed Aside from the memory capacity, the clock speed is also important in the overall speed of your PC. But keep in mind to refer to your hardware manuals first to make sure that the memory clock speed you are buying is supported by the other components, especially the motherboard and the CPU.
  3. Generational Upgrade Generational upgrade (e.g., DDR3 to DDR4, DDR4 to DDR5) is also another reason for purchasing a new RAM. This is especially if you feel that your current one is starting to slow down. Although it may not be really necessary, a generational upgrade will also require you to upgrade your motherboard, as well as its compatible CPU.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Does having more RAM increase its lifespan? No. The number of modules you have installed on your PC has no direct connection to the RAM life expectancy. Having more RAM will make your PC perform better, but it will not increase the lifespan of your RAM and even your other components.
  2. Does RAM performance degrade over time? Yes, but really slowly and is barely noticeable. You’ll probably replace your RAM before you can even feel that your RAM’s performance has slowed. However, since the applications that we use are also evolving, their usefulness and reliability may degrade, too. A 16GB kit might be the sweet spot now, but it will wind up being the minimum in coming years.
  3. How often does ram fail? You might be wondering how often does ram fail? Thankfully, RAM failures are very uncommon. Statistics have shown an average failure rate of only 0.4%. Unless you’ve overheated your modules, or overclocked them too far, it’s unlikely you’ll experience a failure.
  4. How long does ram usually last? Depending on how well you take care of it, RAM can last over a decade without any problems.

Conclusion

The ultimate answer to “how long does RAM last?” depends mostly on how well you take care of your RAM. Just like with any other electronic device, a computer memory will eventually die sooner or later, simply because they are not made to last a lifetime.

Being one of the most heavily-used components in the computer system, it is important that we take good care of it. We hope that this article has answered your questions and that you now have some good ideas on how to extend your RAM lifespan.

If you enjoyed this article why not have a read of our review guide of the top DDR4 RAM kits for gaming. If you want some awesome memory this guide is for you.

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