Just installed extra GIG of RAM, but 'beachball' still spins...

Discussion in 'iMac' started by tommytahoe, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. tommytahoe macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    #1
    Hey MacRumors experts and novices,

    I just installed 1 GIG to my old 512 MB of RAM, in order to speed up the processes of the things I use. I'm not into animation or Final Cut or Garage Band or any such RAM-hungry apps, but often have basic apps like safari, iChat, Microsoft Office X, iTunes maybe running all at the same time.

    The beachball is still spinning right now, despite System profiler recognizing 1.5+ GB, and Activity Monitor displaying over 800 MB as 'free'.
    I have two separate safari windows open, each one with about five 'tabs' open through the tabbed browsing feature (scoreboards for today's NFL games!), and also have Activity Monitor open, but other than that, that's all that's running.
    But for some reason, even just now, when I clicked to get to this "post new thread" page, the beachball started spinning. I know my iMac 17" is probably running in single-channel mode because of two different sized- memory modules being in the slots together. But, 1.5 GB is still way more than the 512MB I had before. Why hasn't the browsing become quick and beachball-free, like I thought it would? I clearly am missing something here. I have learned a lot, but always find there's a lot i don't know about my iMac

    Thanks in advance for your help and wisdom,
    Tom
     
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #2
    Adding RAM is not the panacea for performance issues that many people claim it is.

    My first suggestion is to reboot the Mac, and see if this decreases the incidence of the beach-balls. If so, how long does it take for them to come back, and what are you doing when it happens?
     
  3. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #3
    How's your internet connection? What about your hard drive, is it nearly full?
     
  4. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    I find that if you haven't reinstalled OS X for a while (and have lots of files on your HD) that it can become very fragmented and slow*, the best solution may be to backup your data to an external HD and reformat/reinstall OS X and copy your files back across. You could also try running the Mac OS X Daily/Weekly/Monthly scripts (Onyx can do this.)

    * I had a similar issue with Windows though the reinstall is way more painful.
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    Adding RAM doesn't speed up a machine, it removes a barrier to speed.
    It's like: "Does taking your foot off the brake MAKE your car go faster?" No, it just removes a barrier to whatever speed it would go otherwise.

    Your machine will speed up to the point of the next speed constraint, whether that is CPU performance, software, hard drive etc. One popular problem is inefficient handling of Javascript and CSS -- If you are having problems in Safari, how does Firefox perform on the same site?

    What happens when you don't have enough RAM - say you are using 1.25 Gb worth of OS, data and applications at one time - is that the machine is forced to page out memory to the hard drive. Since the hard drive is way slower than the memory, this creates a time delay - which gets more severe the more times it has to swap on and off the drive. Especially with notebooks with their slower drives.

    So you add memory, good. Your 1.25 Gb of OS, open Applications and Data can all run within memory, so it removes that time delay. In fact, it's working so well you open up Excel and a iChat session. The open applications, OS and data now require 1.7 Gb of RAM, more than your 1.4 Gb physical RAM (after the Video RAM is taken on integrated video machines) and you are right back to swapping to the hard drive.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  6. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #6
    By all means, do not reinstall OSX. This is almost never necessary or helpful.
     
  7. Shadow macrumors 68000

    Shadow

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Keele, United Kingdom
    #7
    I agree. More RAM doesnt mean your Mac will go faster, it just means you can run more apps without the OS having to go to the HD.
     
  8. SpankyPenzaanz macrumors 6502a

    SpankyPenzaanz

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    Sep 4, 2006
  9. suneohair macrumors 68020

    suneohair

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    Aug 27, 2006
    #9
    That is quite possibly the best computer analogy I have heard. Bravo :D
     
  10. pbelmore macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #10
    I'm no expert, but in my experience the backend for those sites (ESPN, CBS Sportsline, etc.) is attrocious. Even having one window open with a live updating scoreboard will slow down your computer. All the other tips are good too, but if this is specifically happening in this situation, I'd close most of those tabs.
     
  11. Macmadant macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    #11
    Or mac Janitor, which is my preferred choice
     
  12. Niftium macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    #12
    So 1 GB of RAM on a 400 MHz machine might be overkill? Hypothetically speaking, of course.
     
  13. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #13

    When ArsTechnica reviewed OS X 10.1, when 400Mhz machines were the norm they put 768MB RAM in and said it made the computer much quicker, and that the more RAM the better, i assume that's still true, so 1GB RAM is useful, whether more is or not I'm not sure, I'm sure CanadaRAM is way more knowledgeable than I am.
     
  14. tommytahoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    #14
    Thanks everyone,
    as usual the macrumors members coming through with a whole page of advice.
    I will take into account everything:
    CanadaRAM, what you had to say by way of explanation of what happens with my new RAM, and why, was a great wrapup that gives me a better understanding of what installing 1 GB to my memory really did for my computer. Your name is right on.

    I don't think I'll back-up my files, and re-install Mac OS X yet (if for no other reasons but it seems a bit much AND I don't have an external HD anyway).

    I'll give those MAC OS X scripts (onyx), and the Mac Janitor thing a whirl after reading more about them. That could help, as could freeing up more space on my HD.

    And the cbssportsline.com/ESPN comments might just be the ticket. You're right, pbelmore, those sites can be a pain in the rear, and it was only recently safari and cbs got together to find a way for us safari folks to go on sportsline.com without getting that annoying pop-up message saying "this site does not support this windows media flash plug-in" blah blah blah. Noone had yet come up with a good way to circumvent that screw-up. But even though they've fixed it, the sites can be a helluva chore for browsers (especially when I've got like 6 NFL game trackers running concurrently!).
    I'm off those sites right now, and there are no problems, so all these other tips may just be pudding.

    Oh, and for those of you who asked, the ISP I have is Comcast Digital Cable, I have an 80% full 160GB HD, and am using a 17" iMac Intel (early 2006 model), with 1.87 GHz processor speed and 667 MHz bus speed, and a recently updated version of Mac OS X (10.4.8)

    Thanks y'all.
     
  15. Lil Red macrumors newbie

    Lil Red

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2006
    #15
    That should be the answer...you may also want to make sure you've ran the firmware update if you are on an intel mac. I would do that before repairing the permissions. Also, if it is java script that is causing your error, make sure you are updated to 10.4.8
     
  16. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #16
    Try using a different browser for your problem sites. Often using a browser with the Mozilla Engine (I recommend Camino) will be significantly better than Safari.
     
  17. tommytahoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    #17
    Hey crazyeddie,
    I don't know if or how much it will help my occasional browser pauses, but I dig that Mozilla Camino you linked in your posting.

    Kind of a combination of Firefox and safari look and functions. We'll see if it helps with some of those troublesome web sites.

    Thanks.
     
  18. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #18
    No, that conclusion does not follow;

    If you have 512 Mb of RAM in a 400 MHz machine, and you are running, say Safari and Photoshop, then you are being held back from full performance because the RAM is paging out to the hard drive. If you up the RAM to 1 Gb, and that is enough for Safari and Photoshop to run 'native' in RAM, then you will get the full '400 MHz' speed out of the machine -- or whatever the next limitation on speed is (hard drive, video card, CPU).

    If you then added another 1 Gb RAM for 2 Gb total, and ran the same 2 programs, you would get zero or next to zero additional acceleration, because you have already removed the RAM limitation that was holding it back

    RAM over and above the 'enough for your OS Programs and Data' will not accelerate your machine beyond the '400 MHz' performance level.

    But adding RAM to even a 400 Mhz machine will restore it to its potential performance if you are running too little RAM for the software environment.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com

    For the nit-pickers in the audience, potentially having LOTS of available RAM allows you to set up RAMDisks for caching etc. which could speed up hard drive access. However, I believe that OSX does a pretty darn good job of managing memory (unlike OS9) and modern hard drives already have 8 - 16 Mb cache onboard, so any improvement from exotic treatments is a waste of time other than in very specialized situations.

    Tommytahoe: Time to start thinking about trimming down the data on your hard drive.
    Try running Monolingual or DeBabelizer for starters, to get rid of unneeded foreign language resources.
     
  19. tommytahoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
  20. br0adband macrumors 6502a

    br0adband

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    #20
    Just as a sidenote, get Camino builds designed for Core Duo/Core 2 Duo iMacs here:

    Core Duo/Core 2 Duo Optimized Camino Builds

    Get the 1.03 build in the middle of the list, 7.9MB in size. I notice a huge difference in performance over the stock Camino 1.03 release, maybe you will too.

    Hope this helps...
    bb

    ps
    Linkage found through www.pimpmycamino.com
     
  21. JAT macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Location:
    Mpls, MN
    #21
    This is getting close to causing problems for you. Esp if you get into virtual memory of any kind. Some programs write plenty to the disc by themselves, like Photoshop. If there's anything you can store elsewhere, you might want to look into it.
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #22
    Does this mean my G4 PowerBook had insufficient disk space from the day I bought it, since it's only got a 30Gb hard drive?
     
  23. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #23
    If it was 80% full after you copied over your files, then yeah, you'd be pushing it.

    The OS seems to prefer about 5 or 6 GB for virtual memory, and the usual rule of thumb is to leave about 10% free, beyond which it can start to affect performance.
     
  24. Catfish_Man macrumors 68030

    Catfish_Man

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2001
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #24
    This is definitely a great post in general (and I will definitely be stealing that analogy for later use if you don't mind), but there are a few subtleties to it. Safari, for example, will increase its memory cache size if you have more ram; I'd imagine the same thing is true of other OS caches.
     
  25. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #25
    I've never heard this rule of thumb before. Even if it were true that 5-6 Gb of disk space was required for virtual memory, then it certainly would not matter if that 5-6 Gb amounted to 1% or 10% or 50% of the maximum drive capacity. As one who monitors his VM swap files, I can say from experience that it's rare for them to take up more than 2 Gb, and they can be made to go away with rebooting.
     

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