How to Reseat a Desktop Memory Module

1
Power Off the PC and Open the Computer Case

Picture of a computer case opening
Open the Computer Case. © Tim Fisher

Memory modules plug directly into the motherboard so they are always located inside the computer case. Before you can reseat memory, you must power down the computer and open the case so you can access the modules.

Most computers come in either tower-sized models or desktop-sized models. Tower cases usually have screws that secure removable panels on either side of the case but will sometimes feature release buttons instead of screws. Desktop cases usually feature easy release buttons that allow you to open the case but some will feature screws similar to tower cases.

For detailed steps on opening your computer's case, see How to Open a Standard Screw Secured Computer Case. For screwless cases, look for buttons or levers on the sides or rear of the computer that are used to release the case. If you're still having difficulties, please reference your computer or case manual to determine how to open the case.

Note: These steps show how to reseat any kind of desktop memory. There are many different kinds of memory that a PC might use but the reseating process is identical for all of them.

2
Remove Power Cables and Attachments

Picture of someone removing a network cable from a computer
Remove Power Cables and Attachments. © Tim Fisher

Before you can remove memory from your computer, you should unplug any power cables, just to be safe. You should also remove any cables and other external attachments that might get in your way.

This is usually a good step to complete when opening the case but if you haven't done so yet, now is the time.

3
Locate Memory Modules

Picture of memory modules on a computer motherboard
Installed Memory Modules. © Tim Fisher

Look around inside your computer for the installed RAM. Memory will always be installed in slots on the motherboard.

Most memory on the market looks like the module pictured above. Some newer, high-speed memory produces more heat so the memory chips are covered by a metallic heat sink.

The motherboard slots that hold the RAM are usually black but I've seen yellow and blue memory slots as well.

Regardless, the setup looks essentially like the picture above in nearly every PC in the world.

4
Disengage Memory Retaining Clips

Picture of someone disengaging memory retaining chips on a computer motherboard
Disengaging Memory Retaining Clips. © Tim Fisher

Push down on both memory retaining clips at the same time, located on either side of the memory module, as shown above.

The memory retaining clips are usually white and should in the vertical position, holding the RAM in place in the motherboard slot. You can see a closer view of these retaining clips in the next step.

Note: If for whatever reason you can't push both clips down at the same time, don't worry. You can push one at a time if you need to. However, pushing the retaining clips simultaneously increases the chance of both clips disengaging properly.

5
Verify Memory Has Properly Disengaged

Picture of empty memory modules on a motherboard
Disengaged Memory Modules. © Tim Fisher

As you disengaged the memory retaining clips in the last step, the memory should have popped out of the motherboard slot.

The memory retaining clip should no longer be touching the RAM and the memory module should have lifted out of the motherboard slot, exposing the gold or silver contacts, as you can see above.

Important: Check both sides of the memory module and make sure that both retaining clips have been disengaged. If you try to remove the memory with a retaining clip still engaged, you could damage the motherboard and/or the RAM.

Note: If the memory module came completely out of the motherboard slot then you simply pushed the retaining clips too hard. Unless the memory slammed into something, it's probably okay. Just try to be a bit more gentle next time!

6
Remove Memory From the Motherboard

Picture of computer memory
Removed Memory Module. © Tim Fisher

Carefully remove the memory from the motherboard and place it somewhere safe and static free. Take care not to touch the metal contacts on the bottom of the RAM module.

As you remove the memory, take note of the one or more small notches on the bottom. These notches are asymmetrically placed on the module (and on your motherboard) to help ensure that you install the memory properly (we'll do this in the next step).

Warning: If the memory does not come out easily, you may not have disengaged one or both memory retaining clips properly. Revisit Step 4 if you think this might be the case.

7
Reinstall Memory in the Motherboard

Picture of someone installing computer memory onto a motherboard
Reinstall Memory. © Tim Fisher

Carefully pick up the RAM module, again avoiding the metal contacts on the bottom, and slide it into the same motherboard slot you removed it from in the previous step.

Push firmly on the memory module, applying equal pressure to either side of the RAM. The memory retaining clips should pop back into place automatically. You should hear a distinctive 'click' as the retaining clips snap into place and the memory is properly reinstalled.

Important: As I noted in the last step, the memory module will only install one way, controlled by those little notches on the bottom of the module. If the notches on the RAM do not line up with the notches in the memory slot on the motherboard, you've probably inserted it the wrong way. Flip the memory around and try again.

8
Verify Memory Retaining Clips Are Reengaged

Picture of computer memory on a motherboard
Properly Installed Memory Module. © Tim Fisher

Take a close look at the memory retaining clips on both sides of the memory module and make sure they're fully engaged.

The retaining clips should look just like they did before you removed the RAM. They should both be in the vertical position and the small plastic protrusions should be fully inserted in the notches on both sides of the RAM, as shown above.

If the retaining clips are not fitted properly and/or the RAM will not set in the motherboard slot properly, you have installed the RAM the wrong way or there may be some kind of physical damage to the memory module or motherboard.

9
Close the Computer Case

Picture of someone closing up a computer case
Close the Computer Case. © Tim Fisher

Now that you've reseated the memory, you'll need to close your case and hook your computer back up.

As I described in Step 1, most computers come in either tower-sized models or desktop-sized models which means there might be different procedures for opening and closing the case.

Note: If you've reseated your memory as part of a troubleshooting step, you should test to see if the reseating corrected the problem. If not, continue with whatever troubleshooting you were doing.