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Thanks, but I've already looked at a lot of similar threads. Most of them do not involve any performance problems and end up with the conclusion that it's nothing to worry about, and I found someone with a kinda similar problem, but his "bandage" solution was to repair permissions. According to Apple, inactive RAM can be used by applications just as free RAM can be used. But that's not what happens for me. Nothing is able to use the inactive RAM, and my computer gets really bogged down. CPU and disk usage are all normal.
This looked promising, but there is no solution on it: https://discussions.apple.com/message/20492788#20492788
The best I've found so far is this, which might help me find some startup items that are causing problems, but it doesn't offer direct information about inactive RAM: http://www.etresoft.com/etrecheck
I have to keep flushing the inactive RAM with a memory cleaning tool or else my computer slows to a crawl.
That's just not normal.
One or more programs you are running may be leaking memory. Memory leaks are not unusual, but it should be so little as to be insignificant. They can be difficult to track down.
The best I've found so far is this, which might help me find some startup items that are causing problems, but it doesn't offer direct information about inactive RAM:http://www.etresoft.com/etrecheck
I suggest you post its results here. Perhaps something else is going on.
Something you can check, in Activity Monitor, in the drop down
menu select Inactive Processes and click on the real memory
column header to sort highest to lowest usage. See if there is any
one or two apps that consume large amounts of inactive memory.
This could indicate if any one process is responsible and a possible
memory leak. Also, see if any one process is listed a very large
number of times.
Use the "copy to clipboard" button and paste it here. If personal information appears just xxxxx it out when posting. Memory usage only shows the results of the problem, which you already know. Determining the cause is necessary.
The rest of the report may or may not help but it will be more information than we have now.
The other post you referenced didn't follow up after the suggestion to run Etrecheck. That happens frequently; wish I knew the reason.
The "copy to clipboard" option is broken for some reason. I thought that the large page out size in the report was important. Here is the rest of it, but this is kinda tedious to read:
The "copy to clipboard" option is broken for some reason.
Hmm... it seems so, in Etrecheck 1.6. I'll try to let him know.
In any event, Wireshark has problems with Lion, so get rid of it. Any number of other system hacks could spell trouble as well: steermouse, NTFS for Mac... etc. You have too many to mention. Any one, or the aggregate of several can be the culprit. Research their respective developer's websites for removal instructions or updates. If they do not say it is specifically designed for Mountain Lion, regard it with extreme prejudice.
Modifying OS X makes it difficult to maintain and can cause any number of interesting ramifications. There are plenty of inept developers out there. Booting Safe Mode is an easy way to load only required OS X system components and omit the junk, to determine if one or more are the cause of this.
Inactive Memory is "Cached" data. It is not a memory leak, is how the operating system avoids going to disk for something that may already be in RAM (cached). However, the OS cannot predict the future, it just uses the past to make a best guess.
You get Inactive Memory is the applications you are running use lots of RAM.
Slowness that is cured by purging Inactive Memory is generally caused by the apps you have been running creating a lot of modified data in RAM, and they are either still running or they have quit but the modified data has not been flushed to disk yet. When something else wants the memory, the OS must first flush the modified data to disk before it can give the Inactive Memory to the new applications.
If you use 'purge', then you are picking a time and a place of your choosing to flush all modified data from RAM to disk.
Using 'purge' once in a while is fine. However, automated processes the run purge on a regular basis keep you disk awake (uses battery life on laptops), and if you are using a Solid State Disk, it puts extra wear on your SSD that can shorten its life expectancy, as SSD's have a limited number of write cycles in them.
Chances are you either need to run fewer things at the same time, or you could benefit from installing more RAM on your Mac.