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A few days ago, I blogged about Memtest86, a free memory diagnostics tool. Memtest86+ is a fork of the popular tool and comes with similar features and capabilities. Readers have recommended Memtest86+ and so I had a quick look at it.
At first sight, you won't see any significant difference between the two tools. However, if you look at the revision history, you will see that the x86-secret team added quite a few functions under the hood.
The main problem with memory test software is that it operates at a low abstraction level, which means that it has to support different hardware in order to work reliably. Since the hardware market is moving forward quickly, it is not easy for a single Open Source programmer to always support the latest hardware. Thus, reliability appears to have been one of the major catches of the original Memtest86, and so the x86-secret team decided to create an up-to-date version of the free memory test software.
The last update of Memtest86+ is from 25/01/2011 therefore, Memtest86 seems to be the most up-to-date version. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that Memtest86 is better than Memtest86+. It depends mostly on the hardware you are using. Although the beta of Memtest86 v4.0 crashed in a virtual environment when I tried the tool, Memtest86+ 4.20 worked without problems in the same environment.
Hence, it makes sense to add both memory testing tools to your tool box. If one doesn't work properly or if you want a second opinion, you can try the other one. One advantage of Memtest86+ is that you don't need a Linux box if you want to create a USB stick with the tool. Memtest86+ is also available as a bootable ISO.