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Old Jan 13, 2013, 10:44 AM   #1
ArtOfWarfare
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Making the Most of RAM?

My iMac only has 3 GB of RAM and the most it can support is 4 GB (I think? It's an original Al iMac from 2007. It came with 2 GB of RAM in the form of 2x1GB... I replaced one of the sticks with a 2GB 2 years ago or so.)

I'm in too tight a spot to afford a new computer and even another 2 GB stick... actually... only $14 now? That's a good deal cheaper than I expected... (I think I paid $40 a few years ago?) I may just buy one of those sticks...

Anyways, I've found the following for improving RAM usage (most of it having to do with Safari.)

1 - Never ever use the grid view. It's loading every single page that's in that view. I had had it set up to display 3x4 every time I opened a new tab or window. I changed my preferences to open everything with an empty page. This has saved me a lot of memory according to Activity Monitor.

2 - Install the ClickToPlugin extension. It blocks all Flash, Silverlight, Java, etc., from loading automatically. Saves a lot of memory.

3 - Use "purge" in Terminal. Turns all of your inactive memory into free memory... my understanding is "inactive" memory is memory that is being held onto from documents you had open but have now closed, for example. The idea is you might want to open it again right after closing it. Supposedly it's as good as free memory because the OS will go ahead and use it for other things. It seems to me that it's a nice idea, but doesn't work in practice. I have no idea why, but free memory seems a lot better than inactive.

4 - Never ever launch iMessages. I have no idea why, but that app eats memory like nothing else I've ever seen. I've had it use 2.5 GB of real memory (of the 3 GB I have!) and use up 11 GB of virtual (and it was still climbing!) It's insane! It doesn't always behave that way, but it does often enough that I've stopped trying to use it. I suspect the issue is something to do with when it hangs while downloading a picture.

Now...

does anyone have any other tips for making the most of your computers RAM?

Also, can anyone tell me exactly what I should look for when buying RAM? Am I looking at the wrong thing when I see a 2 GB stick for just $14?
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:36 AM   #2
Big Stevie
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Crucials website has a guide to find out what RAM your computer can take. They also have a System Scanner app that scans your computer and tells you of all the upgrades possible as far as RAM/SSD/HD etc go.

http://www.crucial.com/uk/index.aspx
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:37 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ArtOfWarfare View Post
,,,

3 - Use "purge" in Terminal.....


does anyone have any other tips for making the most of your computers RAM?

Also, can anyone tell me exactly what I should look for when buying RAM? Am I looking at the wrong thing when I see a 2 GB stick for just $14?
I agree with your list, except for #3. I haven't experimented with this, but from other people whose knowledge I trust, my understanding is that "Purging" may actually slow things down some . "Inactive" memory has stuff from recently opened applications. However, the moment you need more memory for a different application it is freed up so that the 2nd application can access it. In that regard, there is no penalty in having "Inactive" memory.

However, should you happen to open an application whose contents should have been held in "Inactive" memory then you are paying a penalty for not letting the system manage the RAM itself.

I think perhaps the advice to "Purge" is older advice, not really necessary for today's systems. Though perhaps you are using an older version of OS X.

------

My addition to your advice list, from the days when I had a RAM starved system.

1) Quit programs when not in use.
2) When I was going to use Photoshop, which likes as much RAM as you can throw, I would restart the system.

--------

Get the extra RAM. It will make a huge difference in your experience, likely. Consider that of your 3 GB a large portion is full of stuff that you can't do without..... think of it of non-discretionary use by the OS and the kernel. The extra stick of RAM is therefore increasing (by a large ratio) the RAM used by your discretionary applications.

Good Luck...
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ArtOfWarfare View Post
My iMac only has 3 GB of RAM and the most it can support is 4 GB (I think? It's an original Al iMac from 2007. It came with 2 GB of RAM in the form of 2x1GB... I replaced one of the sticks with a 2GB 2 years ago or so.)
Actually, that iMac can support 6 GB RAM, I have a 20" 2007 iMac and it currently has 4 GB, but then again, it still uses Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which is not as RAM hungry as newer OS X versions.
You could also try an SSD, I upgraded my 2007 iMac to one, and it was an okay procedure, but I also build one or two computers using available parts.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:41 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ArtOfWarfare View Post
3 - Use "purge" in Terminal. Turns all of your inactive memory into free memory... my understanding is "inactive" memory is memory that is being held onto from documents you had open but have now closed, for example. The idea is you might want to open it again right after closing it. Supposedly it's as good as free memory because the OS will go ahead and use it for other things. It seems to me that it's a nice idea, but doesn't work in practice. I have no idea why, but free memory seems a lot better than inactive.
The purge command is great for when you have a problem but using it to turin inactive memory into free memory will just slow your computer down overall. Inactive memory is memory that was used but it is no longer used. If it's needed it will be overritten and used just like free memory. It does work and unless you have actual evidence to the contrary, I'm assuming you are just experiencing the placebo effect.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:45 AM   #6
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Generally, a rule of thumb everyone mentions, matched RAM is best. However, if you have the iMac 7,1, according to MacTracker & OWC, you can have a max of 6GB RAM, keeping your 2GB and getting a 4GB stick for about $52, ----so, unmatched...

Ha, beaten by Simsaladimbamba who's probably had way more coffee than me.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:50 AM   #7
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Generally, a rule of thumb everyone mentions, matched RAM is best. However, if you have the iMac 7,1, according to MacTracker & OWC, you can have a max of 6GB RAM, keeping your 2GB and getting a 4GB stick for about $52, ----so, unmatched...

Ha, beaten by Simsaladimbamba who's probably had way more coffee than me.
Gladly I do not drink coffee, only in social situations maybe, and sadly, I know many Macs' maximum RAM amounts by heart, due to EveryMac being a daily visited website. And I also have that iMac 7,1. And, there is probably a rhinoceros somewhere in there, who cannot think about evening out the dent she bumped into my car, but instead just sits there and looks at the third sun from the moon.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 12:06 PM   #8
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Gladly I do not drink coffee, only in social situations maybe, and sadly, I know many Macs' maximum RAM amounts by heart, due to EveryMac being a daily visited website. And I also have that iMac 7,1. And, there is probably a rhinoceros somewhere in there, who cannot think about evening out the dent she bumped into my car, but instead just sits there and looks at the third sun from the moon.
Yep, those damned Rhinoceri, probably drank too much coffee.

Just wondering, can a lack of HDD space clog things up like not having enough RAM?
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 12:14 PM   #9
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Yep, those damned Rhinoceri, probably drank too much coffee.

Just wondering, can a lack of HDD space clog things up like not having enough RAM?
Yes, it can. It is advised to have at least 10 to 20 % of the HDD/SSD's capacity unused, though with 1 TB HDDs very common nowadays, 50 GB of available storage capacity should be enough. For temporary files and such.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 02:27 PM   #10
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Inactive memory is memory that was used but it is no longer used. If it's needed it will be overritten and used just like free memory. It does work and unless you have actual evidence to the contrary, I'm assuming you are just experiencing the placebo effect.
It may be. I tried #2 and #3 at the same time, so that is a likely source of error.

My computer seems to be chugging along using just 2 GB of its 3 GB of RAM right now, so maybe I won't need more RAM after all. ($52 for 40% more RAM sounds nice, but I'm a student in debt with a few more terms still coming up so... I'm hoping my current set up will last me through until the end so I can get out of debt as quickly as possible.)
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 02:53 PM   #11
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I donít think purging the RAM is needed, as unless thereís something wrong with your computer it should clear out inactive memory by itself, as needed. In my experience purging the RAM actually decreases preformance in most cases, as if any of the RAM is empty youíre not making the most of it.
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