Disable VM Seems to Speed Up Lion

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by iThinkergoiMac, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. iThinkergoiMac, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011

    iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    So when I downloaded OnyX for Lion, I was looking through the options and saw that it had a button for disabling virtual memory. Since my MacBook has 6 GB RAM, I've played around with the idea in my head for a while now, but never got around to actually doing it. I decided to try it and see what happens.

    It made a noticeable improvement! The computer is now positively zippy, though it wasn't super slow to begin with. My wired memory has gone up significantly, but my active memory has gone down by nearly as much. Overall, it's made a nice improvement.

    I have yet to run anything significant (Photoshop CS5, FCS2, etc) so I don't know how that will be affected, but for everyday use it's pretty nice. For anyone considering this, do NOT attempt if you have anything less than 4 GB RAM, and it's probably not the best idea if you "just" have 4 GB RAM. This will make your RAM usage go up considerably and if you max out, the OS has nowhere to put the extra RAM content.
  2. tkermit macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2004

    Get an SSD or something...! :eek:
  3. iThinkergoiMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    I wish I had the money to get an SSD! But I can't give up the capacity of my internal drive... so I'm stuck with either buying a huge SSD for $500+ or trying to get an optibay to work and then relegating my magnetic drive to a very slow connection.
  4. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I have a Seagate Momentus XT "hybrid" 500 GB 7200 RPM / 4 GB SSD drive and 4 GB of RAM and my early 2008 Macbook running 10.7.1 is positively zippy without touching any VM settings. And I can still rip or burn a CD or DVD if I feel like it as my superdrive is working just fine.

    Another option is to go with a 60 GB SSD internal (which is plenty for OS and basic apps), pop your larger drive into one of those $10 USB to SATA cases and leave your optical bay alone.
  5. Lokheed macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2009
    Do you know anything about how Lion allocates memory? Aside from what Activity Monitor tells you. And aside from what lays spout all over the interwebs?

    If you don't really have a solid fundamental understanding of memory allocation, OS X's abilities in this area, or what exactly virtual memory is for (and how Lion handles it), you had best put things back the way they were.

    VM is used (for the majority) only when you run out of RAM. In some cases the OS will place small things there to balance RAM, system integrity, and performance. It's smart about it, but more importantly, it will appease the programs in this area. Do you know what happens when you reach that point, but the OS is not allowed to allocate things there (because you disabled it)? Or independent, 3rd party apps when they request this? Disabling VM is like not wearing a condom during sex. You can get away with it only for so long...

    Seriously, it's only fast in your head. Put it this way: Do you think you're smarter than all the Apple engineers that worked on OS X through the years? I know, I know, a lot of questions, but seriously. There are two rampant topics here at MR: i) Lion sucks and ii) My memory is all gone, and it's just getting ridiculous. Next people are gonna put racing stripes on their MBPs and post about how much "snappier" it is.

    Oh and if you want to shut me up, post up some numbers. I want to see data on the speed. Not just reboots, but app launches and metrics on in-app performance for various tasks using to the milli-second timing. After all, would you take a drug where some dude just said, "yeah it works." Of course not! Not looking for subjective data (Hey, it seems fast)... but cold, hard, objective facts!
  6. iThinkergoiMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    Yeah, definitely considered the Momentus XT as well. Unfortunately, right now, I can't really afford ANYTHING for my computer. Also, my optical drive is broken, though I have an external that's faster anyway.

    Yes, I am well aware of how Lion allocates memory. The post was mostly about how it feels, I'm not trying to prove something.

    Good thing I have a very solid and fundamental understanding of how it works, then.

    Yes, applications start to crash. So when I go to use AE CS5 with RAM preview, I will reenable VM to avoid losing any work. This is an exercise to see how it works, not a recommendation that everyone try it.

    Good thing I'm married, then.

    Seriously, there's no way you can know this without using my computer.

    As I said before, this is more of an experiment. I'm not going to benchmark for numbers. Also, random unknown drugs could mess me up for life, disabling VM won't.
  7. Lokheed macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2009
    Really? You were playing around in Onyx and decided to disable VM, but you're telling me you have a very good understanding of how it works? Really?!?

    And it's more of an experiment (read: do you have a solid and very good understanding of what an experiment actually IS) but you aren't going to collect data? Really?!?

    Might want to change your thread topic to: Playing around with VM in Lion rather than Disable VM = Fast Lion or people might, you know, get the wrong idea that there's someone making a claim, or even remotely qualified at the helm, when we know only one of those things is true!
  8. iThinkergoiMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    Yes, really. Like I said in my first post, I'd been considering the idea for a while. It's not as if I saw the option, had never heard about it, and decided to try it not knowing what it is. Did you read my first post in it's entirety or did you just skim it and then assume I don't know what I'm talking about?

    It's not a scientific experiment. You're asking for more than I intended it to be. Why the attack? Why is your first assumption that I don't know what I'm talking about? I'm having some good, geeky fun here. That's all it is.

    Maybe my topic was poorly worded, and perhaps I shall change it. However, I have never made a claim, other than it seems faster to me. I even specifically stated that it's not something that most people would want to try.

    I do know what I'm talking about, and I know exactly what VM is and exactly why it's usually critical to the operation of the computer. However, when I have 6 GB RAM and am not currently using the computer for anything RAM-intensive, I'm not likely to go over 6 GB am I? And when Lion keeps paging out and sometimes paging in when I am doing no more than web browsing, email, and word processing something isn't quite right.
  9. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Are you qualified to determine that the system is not working right or did Apple share some special information with you saying that it wasn't working right? It could be working exactly as designed and if that is the case I'm not sure why you would think that you know better than the designers. I would be very carefull about changing how the core of Mac OS was designed to work since it could have adverse effects with all parts of the system. I do think that the thread title is very misleading since without proof this whole thing can be attributed to the placebo effect.
  10. jsolares macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Land of eternal Spring
    Because apple engineers never make mistakes since they are perfect and have an IQ above 300 as well right?

    Geez get off this guys back, there might indeed be a problem with how Lion handles VM, haven't noticed or experienced it in both of my machines but one has 12GB of ram and the other only 4GB but with an SSD.

    There's nothing wrong with tinkering with a system you know? sometimes it doesn't just work.
  11. iThinkergoiMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    I'm not making a value judgement on the designers at Apple. I would be very careful about changing core aspects of OS X as well... why do you think I have a double backup system?

    Also, do you have an explanation as to why OS X is paging out information when it never actually gets close to the limit of the amount of RAM I have? I don't, so I'm experimenting and tinkering, and why not? It's all for the fun of it.


    And will I leave it this way? Probably not. Right now, I can't possibly max out my RAM. When I get projects that require me to use animation/video apps again, I'll most definitely be turning it back on as I will likely max out my RAM easily then.
  12. Tozzi macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2009
    Munich, Germany
    I find your results very interesting, no doubt.
    And it's cool that you did try this and posted them.

    But, as others have said, switching off virtual memory can only cause severe problems in the long run, regardless of how much RAM you have.
    If anything, it gives you a taste of how it would be like to have more RAM installed along with an SSD.

    On a production machine, I'd still strongly advise against it...
    "Don't try this at home" ;)
  13. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2010
    I have 8GB in my MBP, and I disabled VM on my machine a while back. While the results did seem to support that the machine was mildly faster(read:NOT mild blowing) it also seemed to cause some quirkiness. The most noticeable was that after waking from sleep, the browser literally had static, like TV snow, in place of almost all images and flash/html5 objects. ONLY a reboot would correct this. There were other quirks as well, but nothing you would throw a fit over. Ultimately I decided that rebooting my machine to fix the browser after waking from sleep was negating any increased speed I might have found and I put it back to normal.
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "So when I downloaded OnyX for Lion, I was looking through the options and saw that it had a button for disabling virtual memory. Since my MacBook has 6 GB RAM, I've played around with the idea in my head for a while now, but never got around to actually doing it. I decided to try it and see what happens."

    Could you clarify exactly _where_ in the new version of Oynx you found the option to do this?

    Perhaps I'm missing something, but I launched Oynx, browsed through all the options I could find, and could find nothing that would let me turn VM off.

    Where is it?
  15. fisherking macrumors 603


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    yeah, good question. i've been using onyx since forever, and have never seen this...
  16. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    I'm far from knowledgeable about memory management .... But aren't some apps/programs/services written to use VM?

    I use to do shutoff VM on my Win 2000 server and no problems. So if it makes things a bit snappier with out any problems, why not :)
  17. iThinkergoiMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    So far, I haven't found ANY quirks. Waiting to find some, and I'm sure I'll report back what I find. I may have to see if I can reproduce what you experienced.

    It's in a weird place, which is why I only found it when I was just browsing around in OnyX. It's under Info -> Memory.
  18. fisherking macrumors 603


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere

    and so it is...never explored this before (not sure i want to LOL)...
    but it IS there as an option...
  19. iL15hts macrumors regular


    Jun 16, 2011
    I'm on iThinker on this... If apple engineers are perfect and smart enough. Then why they release bugfixes? The man just want to share some tweaks... Peace
  20. cmdawson macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2011
    It's not in his head


    Has been done before and will be done again. Honestly if I crash a few times but have better performance 99% of the time then it's worth it. My 2.53ghz i5 MBP has felt so slow since upgrading to Lion, disabling VM has brought it back to life...
  21. blackburn macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2010
    Where Judas lost it's boots.
    I had dynamic pager disabled ever since I bought 8gigs of ram and I never had an issue. Lion's memory management is definitely bugged with dynamic pager on it fills my ram until the machine gets snail slow. There is already another thread about the same thing.
  22. Basic75 macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2011
    Hi, just curious -- still everything ok without vm? I've also been playing with the idea of disabling it on my MBP w/8GB and Lion...
  23. iThinkergoiMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    It generally worked out OK. I found that the system got a bit quirky when running apps that wanted lots of RAM (Photoshop, FCP, etc). Things would suddenly stop working and work just fine after a restart. Eventually, I ended up turning VM back on just to get rid of the quirks.
  24. b0fh666 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2012
    just did that (disabled the swap)

    just hate how stupid it is about swapping things to disk when there is plenty of memory available... let's see how it goes.

    main memory hogs here are VMs, usually 2 gig, usually no more than 2 open at a time (so, 4gb). host has 8gb of RAM.

    when opening and closing VMs it tended to swap out vmware's memory which of courses make the VM run like a pig until you reboot. looking at the vm stats you see 8GB of swap being used, and lots of free system memory. just stupid.


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