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Background:
I purchased a new computer, and during the past two months, I experienced the computer freezing, thrice. When it freezes, I have no option other than to reboot the computer. last -x showed:

nav    tty7         :0               Fri Jun 16 20:36 - crash  (00:19)

On running Memtest86+, it passed during the first run, but I let it run for another pass, and then it failed. With XMP switched off there were no failures. I reduced the RAM frequency from 3200MHz to 3000MHz, and there were no failures even after 6 passes.

Question:
I've been told that since the RAM was running on XMP for the two months, and since even the OS I downloaded and installed was while this RAM was in use, there's no telling how many files could have been corrupted by the flipped bits in the RAM. So I've been advised to reinstall my OS.
The way I see it, it's not just the OS I'll have to reinstall. I'll also have to re-download all installer files of every other software I use. That part is ok.
But all my personal files, I'll have to copy to an external disk and copy back. Is there a chance that those personal files could have been corrupted too? After installing the OS, I had copied those files to my SDD from an external HDD. But even though it passed through RAM, wouldn't there be a CRC check which ensures integrity of the files?
So which files could have got corrupted, and do I really need to reinstall the OS and other softwares?

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A Superuser post with an accepted answer tells you that unless you have ECC ram, disk files can be corrupted. That post was for Windows but the conclusion should hold for any operating system.

I don't know of a distribution that does a CRC check of every file after installation as this would add a huge amount of time to complete. Your personal files certainly don't get CRC checks unless the individual apps include the feature. So there is a finite chance that any given file written since XMP was enabled is corrupt.

I think the likelihood of a file corruption would be low. Unless there is some evidence that files are corrupt I personally would not re-install.

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  • The CRC check was about copying files from one disk to another. The link you provided is very helpful. Thanks. sigh...now I'll have to reinstall the OS, just to be sure.
    – Nav
    Jun 25, 2023 at 5:58

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