So many people on the board argue that it "shouldn't" happen or that something else is the cause, but the fact is, it's happening to tons of people, and it's not just some random app that we've installed. Apple should take responsibility and fix this.
I added 8 GB to my late 2011 MPB, for a total of 10 GB RAM. It has helped quite a lot, but as you said, one should not have to add a huge amount of memory to "fix" this. I hardly use any memory-hogging apps. Except for Apple's, I should say (iTunes, iPhoto). But I had these memory problems with just Chrome, Word and Preview open.
Even with my 10 GB, you can see when you boot up that Kernel_Tast starts at about 700 MB of Real Mem. As I write this now, it's up to 981, which is a personal best (haven't hit 1 GB yet but I'll bet it gets there).
The Apple apps really are memory hogs. I am so fed up with the bloated slowness of iTunes, I am using Spotify now, and so much more delighted. Apple is genius with its innovation, user interfaces, etc., but its applications are becoming intolerable and the OS seems to have some issues that are not being addressed. I am a huge fan of Apple, so I hope that they might come around and fix these things.
So many people on the board argue that it "shouldn't" happen or that something else is the cause, but the fact is, it's happening to tons of people, and it's not just some random app that we've installed.
There are many things that people complain about in forums like this that are not bugs in the system, and there's nothing about this that suggests that it's any different. Obviously, you and others are suffering from a problem, but that does not mean that it's a bug in the OS, and hoping for a fix from Apple in such a case is counter-productive. What you should do will depend on the circumstances, and will likely vary for different people with the same symptoms. Removing third-party software may solve the problem for some, but probably not for everyone. Clearing caches may help. Repairing the hard drive and/or permissions may help. Etc, etc.
I would recommend trying some of the troubleshooting techniques found in the second half of Understanding upgrade nightmares, with the addition of clearing caches in case there's corruption in a cache that is causing memory issues.
If you prefer to wait for Apple to fix this for you, you're unlikely to ever be satisfied, but that is your right of course. It makes more sense, though, to do what troubleshooting you can do in the meantime.
(Note that my pages contain links to other pages that promote my services, and this should not be taken as an endorsement of my services by Apple.)
And if after all the troubleshooting it keeps happening? Can we, as paying customers, hope for some clarification on this issue? My MBP ran fine on Snow Leopard, and it makes little sense to keep running into this problem in Lion, even with 8 GB of RAM.
I believe many people who are complaining already did extensive tests. I have run into this problem while running only the browser.
Bottom line, the OS should just manage the memory on it's own, and something in the OS is keeping memory from clearing. This is, contrary to what you say, Apple's problem. Most users don't come to a tech forum looking for answers, they just ***** about their experience to other people, who will be less likely to buy a Mac. Macs had a track record of reliability, that in my opinion has led to an increase in sales as people move away from Windows. Problem for Apple is that right now Windows is a much more stable system.
Just an update:
Upon fresh instal of Lion on my MBP (with now 16GB ram) after running for a while; still run into this problem, with over 10GB inactive. No additional apps installed at all (planned to be able to re-instal them one by one to find the problem child). Havent installed any yet; just using itunes and safari. Kernel_task running at 890MB real memory followed by itunes at 290MB after 12 hours use.
So my conclusion (after running tests and trying every possible suggestion) is that im going to stick to my purge script to run once a x hours, spent enough time trying to figure out the problem.
Interestingly, once I installed my 3rd part apps and stopped browsing the web (purely accidental) inactive memory was no longer a problem.
So i used only safari and yep; same issue again. I noticed huge jumps in inactive memory after I put the laptop to sleep if safari was running at the time. After installing adblock; it got even worse. For those experiencing this problem I would suggest removing all plugins and streaming as little video content as possible as this greatly reduced Safari's load on my machine (reduced; didnt fix).
I dont anticipate a fix from apple - but I think its important that what is tested is reported for other users to read about.
KenChicago hit the nail on the head. +1
And if after all the troubleshooting it keeps happening?
If you have taken troubleshooting to the ultimate final step of erasing the hard drive and installing the system clean, without importing or installing anything else, and you still see a real problem (ie, performance issues), then you have probably got a hardware problem.
Note, though, that many people complaining about this "issue" have not actually reported performance issues, just growing inactive RAM. Inactive RAM is not a problem in and of itself, and those who are interpreting large inactive RAM values, without other symptoms, as a problem are simply manufacturing their own worries.
I actually did all the troubleshooting I could do (or at least the ones I could find on the internet). However I am not willing (yet) to reinstall OS X Lion from scratch after 9 months of working with it. At this moment it is too much of a hastle because all my work stuff is on it.
The issue with the inactive growing ram does not really matter for me. It is actually the result of that: general slow OS reactions, slow starting up of applications, lots of spinning wheels, ... . Actually as a colleague described it: OS X feels "heavy" when using it for a while.
My sister is using a mid 2010 macbook pro with Lion on it with the same slow performance issues She has the 4gb configuration. Reinstalling OS X could be done, but it is not something I prefer to do. Certainly if two MBP have similar symptoms.
So I am interpreting? Yes I do, but I can only look at the symptoms. I am not a developer, but it seems a bit weird that the two MBP's both would have similar hardware issues... . I did not see this behaviour with SL.
Also weird that the symptoms seem to be better after purging.
PS the MBP's are not used for heavy dutie tasks. Mostly Safari, Chrome and Office applications and some other low level apps.
My MacBook Pro is used for heavy-duty tasks. I never restart or shut down, except when an update or install requires me to. And I always have Safari running with a minimum of three tabs loaded... it only gets relaunched when required as well. I also always have Mail running. I do graphics work using Photoshop Elements and Inkscape, I do print work with Pages and Scrivener, I do photo work with Aperture, I do web development with Safari, Firefox, TextWrangler and a number of other small tools, and I do malware analysis using a variety of AV tools and Parallels running a sandboxed version of Lion. Despite that, I almost never see beachballs. Though I often have a large inactive RAM value, that by itself is not a problem, and the RAM is reclaimed as needed by the numerous tasks I push my machine with. And note that I do all this with only 8 GB of RAM.
Ultimately, my goal here is not to be an "Apple fanboy" or "Apple apologist," as I've been called in the past. As long as people are assuming that their problems are caused by some mysterious bug in the system, there's nothing they can do but wait in frustration for a fix. My hope is that some folks here will listen to my advice and successfully troubleshoot their problems rather than waiting unrealistically for someone else to fix them.
Sure. Advice is always a good thing. It is good to troubleshoot first and then ask questions. That's actually what I did.
Upgrading to 8gb made it better (however not solved) in my case, but not all of us are willing to do this just because of an upgrade to Lion (not my sister ;-)).
Just frustrating that the performance is quite a bit worse then before, without finding a reasonable explanation.
Apart from the Apple fanboy or not. I just appreciate good working tech :-)
The Apple apps really are memory hogs.
Seems to me this problem has got worse with Versions and Autosave in the OS and Top Sites in Safari.
I avoid all Versions-enabled apps and I removed Top Sites some time ago. I wrote up the procedure for that here:
(ToU Disclaimer: this links to a page that contains links to other pages that advertise my services as a technical writer).
I'm sorry Thomas, but you when you jump from "If troubleshooting doesn't solve the problem, then it's hardware" you end up sounding exactly what you say you aren't. Isn't it more likely that a problem shared by several users (which had no problem in SL) is software caused (as in bug) instead of hardware?
It's good that you aren't facing any problems, but the fact is some people are. And people are doing something about it, they ARE troubleshooting the problem, they are trying to find solutions. Coming to these foruns is a LAST resort, and you keep dismissing us as "go troubleshoot before you complain".
Apple can ignore these problems and it probably will, but I'm not the only one who is now saying Windows is actually more stable then Mac OS. Word-of-mouth is powerfull, and the mystic that surrounds the Mac can disappear if Apple isn't careful about these things.
I actually did a test yesterday and installed Windows 7 via Bootcamp. It is sad to say that it is extremely fast (with 8 recognised cpu cores?) and stable. And yes it is a clean install, but you just can't ignore it.
It is not my intention to start 'what is the best OS' here, but I can just experience it. I still prefer working in OS X though.
Also weird: after installing Win 7, OS X started re-indexing (which is normal), but totally froze on me this morning (after being on the whole night).
Anyway. It is a problem that lots of people are experiencing and it is probably also difficult to find an exact cause, but that should not stop anyone from writing the experience on a forum.
I hope the mystique stays, but I am also hearing lots of indications of people having the same slowness problems in my direct environment.
"then you have probably got a hardware problem"
Right bacause the great and glorious Apple could never make a mistake, I mean it's just not possible that they would ever screw anything up they are after all completely 100% perfect. In fact should they ever make a mistake it would be the final sign of the apocolypse.
The problem is clearly that OSX Lion is not releaseing inactive memory when it is required by a new app. I and many others noticed the large amount of Inactive memory when we pulled up Activity Monitor after getting beach balls with very little open.
Yes it's most likely the result of a commonly used 3rd party app not playing nicely with Apple's memory management protocols. Still, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect Apple to build an OS that's smart enough purge inactive memory when a new application requests more free memory than is availble.
Honestly, I wish users could flag fanboys and simply ignore thier posts.
Edited to add: Another reason I and many others place this on Apple in general and Lion specifically is that we didn't see the problem in Snow Leopard and now do in Lion while running the same third party applications.
Also, after reading through several threads on this my best guess is that it's VM Ware Fusion but I can't realistially not run windows (work related sites require IE) long enough to test
Same problem guys. I have 12 GB in an iMac and it keeps running out of memory until I run Freememory to clear it out every ten minutes, or so, if I am encoding video or something similar. I have a Windows netbook with 2Gb of RAM that performs better for similar tasks. Hugely disappointed in the quality levels of the software on my mac.
I have this same issue on my machine with 8GB RAM, so I periodically have to ask the Free Memory app to free up memory. It works, but it's a pain in the arse to keep doing.
This issue really isn't that hard to figure out. The programming change would be fairly easy for Apple, however then they wouldn't be able to continuously tell customers that "you just need to purchase more memory ... that will fix your problem." Just follow the dollar folks.