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The contacts of RAM will oxidize... you know.

A little bit of my own experience:

So my dad found a stick of RAM (if you're interested, DDR2) and I tried to add it to an old computer (... Pentium 4).

(Skipped what I've done, a short summary: BSoD and FAIL with memtest86+)

After that, I get a rubber and rub the metal contacts of that piece of RAM, then it worked normally.

The question is: Is it a good way to clean a piece of RAM by erasing it with an eraser?

(P.S. To be honest, I touch pieces of RAM with my bare hand with no electrostatic precautions.)

By the way, pun intended.

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You really should use ESD protection, eventually you will learn to regret it, EST protection is dirt cheap. Its also just easier to store these things the correct way. –  Ramhound Mar 6 '13 at 12:53
    
The most important ESD protection step to take is to always touch the metal case of the computer or whatever with one hand before reaching into the "guts" (with power removed!) to plug/unplug something. A pretty high-odds way to damage something is to walk across a room with component in hand (even with rubber gloves) and plug the component into a box while carefully NOT touching the case. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 8 '13 at 12:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You will probably get away with it, but that's not the recommended method anymore because rubbing rubber against epoxy laminate will produce static electricity. Instead, use rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip. But if you must use an eraser, rub slowly, gently, and no more than needed.

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What's "epoxy laminate"? (And by the way I just used the rubber vigorously...) –  Alvin Wong Mar 6 '13 at 12:47
    
@AlvinWong - Its a protective coat. Think of it something like wax for electronics. –  Ramhound Mar 6 '13 at 12:54
    
Rubbing vigorously can destroy fragile plating and wiring. "Expoxy laminate" is the material you're rubbing against -- think balloon on wall. –  David Schwartz Mar 6 '13 at 12:57
    
"Epoxy laminate" is "fiberglass" -- the circuit board. (Though in truth it's just as likely polyester resin and cardboard.) It is, of course, an insulator, but nothing special from the standpoint of static generation, and the eraser is much less likely to produce static damage than simply handling the part carelessly. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 8 '13 at 12:29

That is an old trick, but you need to be careful with newer parts since the layer of gold (or whatever) on the contacts may be just atoms thick.

A better trick is to coat the contacts (after cleaning, if necessary) with a very thin layer of silicone grease. Go to an auto parts store and buy "high voltage" silicone grease. (Make sure it says "silicone", but for &diety's sake, don't use silicone caulk.) It's a clear substance similar in consistency to petrolatum.

And, no, the grease will not "insulate" the contacts and prevent them from connecting. What it will do is exclude oxygen from the contact area and prevent corrosion.

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These are often called "dielectric grease". But I would be concerned whether the RAM socket applies enough pressure to ensure the grease will not insulate the contact. (There have been confirmed cases of dielectric grease causing this problem on car computers with contacts that didn't apply enough pressure.) If there is enough pressure, then the grease will keep oxygen and dirt away from the contacts, which is a good thing. –  David Schwartz Mar 7 '13 at 20:45
    
@DavidSchwartz - There is always that concern expressed, but I've never heard of it being a problem. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 8 '13 at 12:25

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