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My inactive memory is abnormally high?

13484 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Feb 22, 2013 2:52 PM by Brian Kendig RSS
CrownPixel Calculating status...
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Jul 19, 2012 12:13 PM

My mac has 2gb ram. I notice that my inactive memory usage had increased over 700mb the last two boots.


(Message was edited by: CrownPixel) Is that normal? Before this, it was only around 200-300mb max. I recently did a software update (itune only) but I don't think that should effect the memory usage. Even after I closed all my applications, the inactive memory remained around 700mb. When I booted my mac, inactive memory used up about 90-140mb on startup. What's goin on? Should I be worried?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)
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    Jul 19, 2012 12:09 PM (in response to CrownPixel)

    About OS X Memory Management and Usage


    Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor

    Memory Management in Mac OS X

    Performance Guidelines- Memory Management in Mac OS X

    A detailed look at memory usage in OS X


    Understanding top output in the Terminal


    The amount of available RAM for applications is the sum of Free RAM and Inactive RAM. This will change as applications are opened and closed or change from active to inactive status. The Swap figure represents an estimate of the total amount of swap space required for VM if used, but does not necessarily indicate the actual size of the existing swap file. If you are really in need of more RAM that would be indicated by how frequently the system uses VM. If you open the Terminal and run the top command at the prompt you will find information reported on Pageins () and Pageouts (). Pageouts () is the important figure. If the value in the parentheses is 0 (zero) then OS X is not making instantaneous use of VM which means you have adequate physical RAM for the system with the applications you have loaded. If the figure in parentheses is running positive and your hard drive is constantly being used (thrashing) then you need more physical RAM.


    Adding RAM only makes it possible to run more programs concurrently.  It doesn't speed up the computer nor make games run faster.  What it can do is prevent the system from having to use disk-based VM when it runs out of RAM because you are trying to run too many applications concurrently or using applications that are extremely RAM dependent.  It will improve the performance of applications that run mostly in RAM or when loading programs.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 12:41 PM (in response to CrownPixel)

    Not so. Please read all the information I provided especially the article on how to what Activity Monitor reports. Having a lot of inactive RAM is of no real consequence as long as you don't attempt to run more applications concurrently than can be supported by the amount of RAM you have installed.

  • vance.corkery Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jul 22, 2012 2:42 AM (in response to Kappy)

    Are there any work arounds to 'helping' OS X 10.7 manage memory efficiently (properly)?


    How many times have we experienced OS X gobbling memory - sequestering it, not returning it - therefore forcing us to reboot; so much like Windoze?


    Since Apple's OS is a fork of BSD - I wish to remain polite - it ought to manage memory like a Unix variant, but it surely does not. The consensus reply from Apple and their fanbois to simply BUY MORE RAM is grinding on my last nerve.


    Thank you for any help. Cheers.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)
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    Jul 22, 2012 12:06 PM (in response to vance.corkery)

    Workarounds? None required. The OS X memory manager does what it's supposed to do.

  • vance.corkery Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jul 22, 2012 2:28 PM (in response to Kappy)

    With respect, I can demonstrate that memory management in OS X is broken. For instance, try as an experiment, quitting a native OS X process and wtach if the memory is returned. Neither is the memory of applications in many instances. Memory management in OS X is broken.

  • str1k3r Calculating status...
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    Nov 15, 2012 2:06 PM (in response to CrownPixel)

    I have pc with Windows 7 64 bit and Mac with Lion 10.7.5. WIndows definitely is better OS. Performace under Windows is much better, and only a blind man or fanboy can't see that. But this is typical for smart americans,which whole life is ''eat mcdonalds, drink cola''.

  • Brian Kendig Level 2 Level 2 (170 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 2:52 PM (in response to vance.corkery)

    OS X is based on Unix, which has 44 years of development under its belt. Don't be so quick to blame the memory management.


    Often when memory isn't released when an app quits, that means the memory belongs to a shared library that's still in use. Or if you see more and more memory being used when you launch and quit an app repeatedly, then that's a sign of a memory leak that would be a bug in the application; it's up to apps to manage their own memory.(It's not hard to write an app that allocates objects and fails to release them, but it's not hard to avoid that problem, either.)


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