Help! Ram only using 256mb out of 4gb!

Hi there,
I recently helped my friend build a computer! However one week after it was finished everything started going haywire. By this I mean he kept getting "display driver stopped responding and has recovered" then a blue screen. Then a day after that the computer stopped working all together.

So the only thing that we could think of that was wrong would be if there was not enough connection between screws,standoffs, the chassis, etc etc because it was painted. So we took it apart, put it back together with tightened screws. It improved the performance a tiny bit, but the computer was still sluggish.

So then we went back in and ground off the paint on top of the metal on the chassis by every screw hole, just to make sure there was maximum connection. So we boot the computer up, it works at an average speed this time. We do a system check. Apparently the computer was only using 256mb of ram, out of the 2x2 gigs installed (ddr2).

I'm not sure what the problem is, but now it is back to being slow again, and I really don't know where to go from here. I don't get how it is only using 256mb of ram, and I did try swapping the ram sticks places (no dice). I'm really stuck, because I cannot uninstall the OS, it needs 512mb of ram >.>

If any of you could help me out that would be fantastic! I'll do my best to answer any questions you have for me.
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  1. There are a couple of things I would start with.

    1. Take one RAM stick out of the affected computer. Next, download MemTest86+ . Burn the .iso file on to a cd, make sure you create a bootable disc. Pop the bootable disc into the affected computer and restart. The test will start automatically. Allow the test to run for at least 8 hours. If errors are found, the test stops.

    2. Check the CPU to ensure you don't have any bent pins.
  2. Thanks for the reply, we found the problem! It was a disk partition, we are proceeding to wipe the drive and give the computer a fresh, much faster start =D
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