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Lion - Memory Usage Problems

271193 Views 957 Replies Latest reply: Dec 1, 2013 1:28 PM by Jonathan Payne1 RSS
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mightymilk Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jul 21, 2011 5:47 AM

Why is Lion using all 4GB of RAM running Mail, Safari (2 tabs), and iTunes?  Snow Leopard was bad enough at handling memory, eating up every available byte and Lion seems to be arbitrarily using even more RAM.  Windows 7 has zero problems handling RAM, there's no reason OS X shouldn't be able handle memory properly.


Can someone explain what Apple is doing here?  I'm at a total loss.  For users who just need Safari, Mail, and iTunes... I guess this works.  But how am I expected to reliably run Logic, Final Cut, or Aperture with OS X using every available resource for Web Surfing, E-mail, and Music.  This is totally unacceptable for a multi-million dollar software company greated towards professionals as well as consumers.


The following responses are not acceptable by the way:


  • Buy more RAM  - I did that already, it will eat up 2/4/8GB, doesn't matter.  Not to mention Apple still sells numerous 2/4GB confirgurations.
  • Buy a newer/more powerful Mac - this is a improper handling of memory issue, not a hardware issue.


I'd really love some insight into this.  Thanks for reading.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7), 13" (late-2009)
  • bobwild Level 4 Level 4 (1,510 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 21, 2011 6:46 AM (in response to mightymilk)

    I am running Safari (4 tabs open), Mail, iTunes, Activity Monitor, and terminal. Out of my 4 GB of ram currently 2.16GB free. I have only been powered up for 30 mins though.


    Just because LION is using up all 4GB of ram, it is not necessarily a bad thing. OS X uses the RAM for its many processes. With just 5 apps open, I have 101 processes active at this moment. Most of those processes are running all the time


    You are going to have problems if all the RAM is active and processes and apps have to page in and out from RAM.


    Are you experiencing slow response from apps?


    From my experience Logic, Final Cut, or Aperture are apps that do use a lot of system resources, RAM and CPU and depending on how heavely you use them you may need 8GB of RAM. I only have 4GB of RAM and when I have a lot of work to do in Aperture I will shut down Mail and Safari. Especially Safari which does use lots of RAM.

  • bobwild Level 4 Level 4 (1,510 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 21, 2011 7:04 AM (in response to mightymilk)

    My Safari Web Content was using 333MB of ram when I hit reply here, and now its at 316MB. Sorry I don't know what it does.


    One question, after your Lion install has your Spotlight indexing completed? it will make your mac significantly slow until it completes.

  • Christopher Boerger Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 21, 2011 10:33 AM (in response to mightymilk)

    It appears in Lion Safari, or specifically the SafariWebContent component has a memory leak. Many folks, including myself are seeing that process gobbling up memory over time.

  • BroSter Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 21, 2011 12:49 PM (in response to mightymilk)

    I was having this problem as well, so I decided to try John Gruber's advice. I uninstalled Flash and set up Chrome as a back-up for the Flash pages I HAVE to access. The memory that Safari is using has now dropped dramatically, and everything is much more responsive and quick. Here's a link to John's method at doing this, if you're interested.


  • SingingFriar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 22, 2011 10:33 AM (in response to mightymilk)

    This is a major problem.  I updated to the latest version of Flash and that didn't help.


    Flash in Chrome seems fine and the memory usage is completely acceptable.  What a bummer as I really like the new Safari.

  • Thebestplacehere Level 3 Level 3 (700 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 22, 2011 11:20 AM (in response to mightymilk)

    I shall say that i was finding that what before use 4gb was open aperture and may WOW or Warhammer online but now just mail safari and 4gb use.. May is that apple is using more ram to use less processor or may is how lion works or i dunno but i was thinking upgrade ram and now i am sure and from apple i think ..

    Oh 2011 imac with 2x2gb and two free slots..So 4gb and true with lion the ram always in almost all in use and no much free....

    I don't have flash installed..

    Also can be because all the apps are displayed in launchpad and may we running full apps and using other desktop i dunno exactly why but i think lion like ram and a lot ...

  • BroSter Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 22, 2011 11:23 AM (in response to mightymilk)

    Just to update my last post. Deleting Flash has helped my browsing experience quite a bit, but the memory use problem has returned.... I'm not entirely sure what's going on at this point.

  • John Kitchen Level 3 Level 3 (635 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 22, 2011 11:59 AM (in response to mightymilk)



    Go into Activity Monitor and check "Page Outs".  If the value is zero, then you have never had any RAM shortage since the last power-on.


    If it's not zero, then you have had RAM shortages.  Ignore the colored pie.  It's just a point in time RAM status, and tells you nothing about either the past or the peaks of demand.

    mightymilk wrote:


    Can someone explain what Apple is doing here? 

    Yes, I can explain what Apple is doing here. 


    RAM is a very cheap resource, so modern software uses it to save consumption of other resources.  RAM can be, and is, used to avoid I/Os.  Avoiding I/Os saves CPU cycles and makes the system quicker for you.


    For the last 40+ years, the golden rule of computer configuration has been "don't skimp on memory"!


    I know you don't like this answer, but if you are getting a lot of Page Outs, then buy more RAM.  In my experience, my MBP did not perform acceptably until I upgraded it to 8GBs.  But with Aperture, it was still sluggish, so I now have an iMac with 12GBs of RAM, plus SSD and fastest CPU.  Aperture is a professional application designed to scale, and use resources well.


    So why does Apple still sell 2 and 4 GB Macs?  To get the sticker price down and meet the needs of less demanding uses.  Users who do one simple thing at a time and don't use professional apps.

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