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iMac G5 losing free space to excessive swapfiles; external HD is now getting too much Spotlight indexing and similar problems.

503 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Mar 29, 2013 7:21 AM by WZZZ RSS
Amazin69 Calculating status...
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Mar 28, 2013 11:09 AM

Last summer, I upgraded my iMac G4 laptop to a G5 desktop (can't afford anything newer, even used, unfortunately), and attached the 1TB external drive I use for most of my file storage to the desktop.  (The laptop had a screen that was "whiting out" after about 1 minute's use, so I can't return to my previous setup, anyway.)


For the most part, I enjoyed the upgrade to the faster machine (yay, can see .mp4 video files!) and the ability to move from Tiger to Leopard.  But I did notice that the machine would see its free space drop pretty rapidly while in use (especially if Safari was running) resulting in annoying "almost out of memory" messages, followed by reaching ZERO free space, and having to delete all the webpage previews from the library if I wanted to exit any application that needed to have its changes saved (if I was in the middle of a game, for example), before restarting to regain my free space. (I rarely have as much as 5GB free, but still.)  On a few occasions, I ran completely out of application memory, and had the whole machine freeze on me, requiring a forced shutdown, to my annoyance.


To compound the issue, this month, I've started to see the free space on the EXTERNAL HD "evaporate" like this,  which both confused me (isn't this a system disk problem? this never happened before!) and angered me (twice the problems), but did motivate me to seek solutions.  By installing and running Grand Perspective, I was able to determine the two separate (I think) but possibly interlinked problems.


On the G5, I'm losing space due to excessive generation of swapfiles. At one point they got as far as a "swapfile9" file, which was huge.  From what I gather, the swapfile script must have an error in it or something, which causes it to keep running, is that correct?  Installing YASU to force-run the various terminal scripts (without having to use the Terminal itself) seems to have ameliorated this problem somewhat (haven't "run dry" of free space lately), but the swapfiles still (as of this writing) occupy the following amount of space:  swapfile0 and swapfile1, 64MB each, and swapfile2, 128MB.  Shouldn't the generation of the new swapfiles have led to the deletion/purging of the previous ones?


Meantime, on the external HD, the relentless Spotlight indexing continues unabated.  Merely leaving my computer on overnight (about 12 hours since last restart) has led to the creation of four copies of the requisite Spotlight files (from "0.indexpositions" through "3.indexpositions", to name the largest offender), consuming over 1 GB of space, and leaving me with a meager 4.4 MB in free space.  But I've seen as many as seven copies generated ("6.indexpositions"), which is clearly wrong.


What can I do to stop the Spotlight files from "breeding" this way?   (Short of turning it off, obviously.) Why are they on my external drive now, anyway?  (They never were before, I don't think.) Is this related to the swapfile issue on the main disk?


Thanks for reading all of this and I look forward to your help.



Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Neville Hillyer Level 4 Level 4 (1,845 points)

    First disable Spotlight on all volumes.


    How much RAM do you have? The G5's 64 bit bus will probably need twice as much RAM as a G4.


    Look in Monitor to see if there are repeated errors. If necessary progressively shut down applications and utilities.


    I cannot remember what last caused my G4 to use ever increasing quantities of virtual memory but such things can usually be tracked down as long as the Mac does not crash.


    If all else fails disable all third party applications and utilities. Reinstall the OS if necessary.

  • Neville Hillyer Level 4 Level 4 (1,845 points)

    I did not say remove Spotlight - just temporarily stop it indexing anything by using the Privacy tab in System Preferences.


    I have a 733 MHz G4+ with Leopard and its maximum 1.5 GB of RAM is marginal. I would not consider trying to use a G5 without at least 2 GB and preferably 4 GB of RAM.


    Sorry - I should have said Console and not Monitor.

  • Neville Hillyer Level 4 Level 4 (1,845 points)

    These errors may not be significant - you could Google them.


    If turning off Spotlight resolves the issue I would use the Mac without it until you can do a clean OS install with more RAM and without any third party software.

  • WZZZ Level 6 Level 6 (11,875 points)

    In Activity Monitor, open the System Memory tab. Look down at the bottom, or better just post a screenshot like this. What is it showing for Page outs, Page ins, Swap used?Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 8.19.17 AM.png



    Open Terminal in Utilties and enter top


    What's showing inside the parnethesis for pageins and pageouts (at the top of the window.)


    Also in System Memory, check to see if any process or application is using an excessive amount of Real Memory.


    Message was edited by: WZZZ


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