"Free" vs "Inactive"

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by RThom, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    #1
    On the Activity Monitor graph, I'm curious as to the difference between free memory and inactive memory: isn't "inactive" the same as free memory in the sense that it's available to use? :)
     
  2. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
  3. macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #3
    Supposably but it isn't the case in practice. I have found apps will continue to page out if there is little free ram and loads of inactive (when it should not be paging out if inactive was free)
     
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    #4
    Thx! So if "inactive" is basically "free" to be used, why the distinction?
     
  5. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #5
    Did you read the link I posted? It answers your question.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    #6
    "Inactive memory is available for use by another application, just like Free memory." So, what am I missing?
     
  7. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #7
    Read the rest of the description to find out what inactive memory is.
     
  8. Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #8
    The distinction is that if you close an application, the memory that it used goes to inactive. You then open that application up again, and instead of re-loading the app, it uses what was already in memory (as inactive).

    So basically inactive ram is memory that is free but an application could reuse it if restarted. The benefit of this is that app opens up much quicker.
     
  9. macrumors G5

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #9
    "Inactive" contains data that _might_ be useful. For example, if you read a file, the OS might keep the contents of the file cached in "Inactive" memory, just in case you read it again. "Free" memory contains nothing useful.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    #10
    Okie doke. Gotcha. Thanks for the prompt response!
     

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