Weird RAM problem...

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by aoitsukinosuke, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. aoitsukinosuke macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Firefox eating up RAM is a given, but lately I'm having a different problem.
    My early 2009, 4GB RAM Mini had a clean ML install 2 weeks ago.
    The RAM build up started though on a lighter scale than before.
    I followed the Terminal - purge instructions and was very pleased with the outcome.

    Until I did a Safeboot regarding Airdrop....
    Ever since, every time I start FF, the CPU usage gradually builds up to the level of stalling my Mac.
    I checked the RAM usage trying to find the culprit to the best of my knowledge. And here is the weird part;

    As you can see below, after I start FF, it eats up 716MB RAM, which is clearly seen.
    But, after 20 minutes, total RAM usage hikes up almost 1GB while FF only increases by 150MB.

    Without FF, my RAM is around 2GB all the time.
    There are no extra extensions or plug-ins.

    Can anybody shed a light?
    (I also added partial Activity Monitor screen captures)

    Attached Files:

  2. jvpython macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2011
    New Zealand
    Seems like a lot of this used RAM is inactive. Meaning that it won't show up as RAM Firefox is using and it can be reused by another app if needed. As long as your computer doesn't seem to hang then you should be fine
  3. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    Have you tried using a different browser? Does it do the same thing?
  4. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Friends - Thank you for your responses.

    @jvpython - Unfortunately, it hangs. Now, I use Memory Clean to clean the RAM below a certain threshold.

    @iThinkergoiMac - Tried Safari. Not the same problem. Once, Firefox is closed, Mini is always behaving normally.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    You don't need such apps. Both free and inactive memory is available to any app that needs it.

    To determine if you can benefit from more RAM, launch Activity Monitor and click the System Memory tab at the bottom to check your page outs. Page outs are cumulative since your last restart, so the best way to check is to restart your computer and track page outs under your normal workload (the apps, browser pages and documents you normally would have open). If your page outs are significant (say 1GB or more) under normal use, you may benefit from more RAM. If your page outs are zero or very low during normal use, you probably won't see any performance improvement from adding RAM.

    Using Activity Monitor to read System Memory and determine how much RAM is being used
  6. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Dear Friend,

    Page outs are almost 1GB. My 2009 early Mini is maxed out at 4GB RAM already.
    Can you advise what to do please?
    Thanks in advance.
  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Did you restart, as I suggested? Also, the maximum RAM for your mini is 8GB.

    You can find specs on all Apple products, including maximum RAM:
  8. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Yes, I did.

    Holly Maccaroli. I didn't know about the 8GB. I checked your excellent links and you are right.

    Funny thing is, I got my Mini with 2GB and asked OWC about the max capacity and the are the ones who told me that my max could be 4GB, which I bought from them and installed.

    So, are you recommending an upgrade to 8GB?
  9. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    If you're getting page outs under your normal workload, adding RAM is a good idea.
  10. aoitsukinosuke, Nov 17, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012

    aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    @GGJstudios - Looks like more internet shopping.
    Now, I have to figure out which RAM to buy.
    Any suggestions will be most welcome.

    Thank you so much for your time and effort. I owe you.
  11. Jenni8 macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    I agree about the memory freeing apps of being more trouble than helpful. I tried one and maybe it seemed to help somewhat, but overall it made the system very slow. I have only 4GB of RAM and today I just ordered a stick of 8GB off of Crucial for only $40. In a couple months I will buy the additional stick of 8GB. I did a ton of research to see if they needed to be added in pairs but I didn't want to be stuck filling in both slots when I'd prefer to get 2 8GB, but right now I can only budget one and I can get the other one soon. I found out it's not too crucial on my intel iMac as long as the first two are paired. I will just add the new RAM on top of my 2 2GB to keep those paired. Later when I get the other stick, I'll make them the first two sticks of memory before the two smaller ones.

    I too recommend Crucial and you should stay away from the memory apps. Also when it comes to Firefox, I read many places that it's just not as secure as it had been and it's best to stay away so I use Safari and sometimes Chrome. I found out too a while back that if you have a lot of addons on the browser it will suck up your memory like crazy. Same is true for any browser really. Addons are neat and all, but how many do you actually USE. It's easy to just turn them off too so you wouldn't need to uninstall them unless you feel like you need them.

    If I'm using heavy usage apps, like Lightroom or Photoshop, I will close my browser and will clear the web cache often. Makes a big difference in overall performance. Internet is fast enough no not justify saving website cache. I sometimes like having the browser open for tutorials though so its definitely time for a RAM upgrade so I don't HAVE to close the browser to prevent lag.

    Good luck and I hope you can find your solution. :)
  12. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Dear Jenni8,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write one of the most comprehensive replies I have seen in this forum. I really appreciate it.

    Interesting thing is, I have done hours of research ever since my problem started and the conclusion is exactly what you prescribed.

    I will follow it to the last dot. You are a lifesaver.

    Once again, thank you.

    Best, Aoi
  13. Jenni8 macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    Oh your welcome. :) I'm curious on what you determined to be the main problem from your research. RAM, Firefox, addons, the memory app or all of the above. It's funny, it's kind of like when you go to the doctor, their usually are many factors involved when you get sick, and it seems the same with computers too. Hehe.
  14. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Jenni8 - Hi again.

    IMHO; My problems are originating from 2 things;
    1) My Mini can't handle ML with its humble 4gb RAM. I was warned that this could be the case, but wanted to try my luck anyway.
    2) With FF closed, I do not run into any RAM problems. Once it's started, FF RAM usage peaks at app. 800mb. Though this may sound a lot, but has been this way for the past 3 years running on Leopard . But after starting FF, obviously some of the addons and plugins kick in and whatever reason they may have with ML, I get zero RAM available.

    Therefore, I will get rid of the memory app, reinstall FF, adding the extras bit by bit and most important of all, rectify the RAM to 8gb.

    If I still can not resolve the problem, it's time for a new Mini.

    Does this sound like a plan?
  15. Jenni8 macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    Sounds like you got it pretty figured out. I've been using only 4GB of RAM since getting my iMac and for the MOST part the system is smooth. I only run into issues using Photoshop and Lightroom at the same time or if my browser is open. Safari can be quite a RAM hog too but it is better with ML and I only have my essential addons. Now I'm just impatiently waiting for my RAM to arrive. So then I'll be at 12GB and in a couple months even better at 20GB. I figure that should be good for quite some. I hope your plan works for you and you don't need to get a new computer.
  16. Jenni8 macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    So have you had any improvements with any changes you may have made?

    I did just get my new RAM today from and to system runs like it has nothing on the hard drive at all. I tested its potential by opening up all my major RAM hogging apps. Such as Lightroom, Photoshop, Safari and a few more and I was STILL not at capacity all opened at the same time. I even opened up multiple large psd files and performed some intensive editing techniques while showing a youtube video with no lagging whatsoever. It was just a test and I still haven't maxed out it's RAM usage, but so far so much better. With only adding one 8GB to the other existing 2 x 2GB, I see no issues being that I didn't install it with an identical pair. When I do add the next 8GB of RAM, I won't even see any hesitation in the photos loading in Lightroom. Sure it tons faster, but it's still not instant. I do love being able to open up my original Lightroom Library with the majority of my pics in one Catalog again without any issues.

    Overall I'm super happy with my purchase from
  17. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Hi Jenni - Thanks for the update. I've never seen anyone do such a follow-up and feedback. My heartiest congratulations.

    I'm glad it worked out good for you. Here is my case;
    1) I deleted the Memory Clean as you said and my Mini runs much smoother now. My pageouts are maxed and I get the beachball often but the main thing is I can get by.
    2) Firefox is uninstalled and reinstalled. Plugins and extensions are reinstalled one by one. No difference. Still a RAM gobbler.

    2) I can't follow your footsteps exactly and install an 8GB module as my Mini is late 2009 and the max is 8GB. I will either have to settle with an extra 4GB initially or go ahead and order 2 x 4GB modules. I am inclined for the latter.

    However, I will not be going thru the hassle of changing the modules by myself as mine is not as easy as with later models where you just unscrew the RAM compartment at the bottom. Therefore, I will have my IT guy do it.

    Once I get around to it, I will post the outcome here.

    Once again, thank you so much.
  18. Jenni8 macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    Well to find out exactly what kind of RAM is compatible, makes that really easy. They have a system scanner and the RAM they search for is guaranteed to work. It's a good starting point so you can compare prices when you know exactly what you want. The 2 x 4GB would be best as it is your max setup. Should be about the same price as the 8GB I got for only $40. I can't factor in you having an IT guy to do it as that must be a huge bummer.

    I still think you should let Firefox go. I used to use firefox exclusively before I switch over to Mac from my old PC. I started out using it on the Mac too but the performance wasn't what I hoped. I went ahead with Safari when Lion came out and I upgraded and I was very pleased with it in comparison to Firefox. Researching for a possible alternative might be worth while.

    I'm finding that my system is running very smoothly, consistently using (Including wired, active and inactive memory) from around 4 to 6 GB of my RAM creating Zero Pageouts.

    If you hate to leave Firefox try the increase in RAM first. And if it STILL is hogging all your RAM causing Pageouts, then I Highly recommend trying out a different browser.
  19. aoitsukinosuke, Nov 25, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012

    aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Jenni - Thank you so much.
    I checked their scanner when you suggested their site, but was sceptical about it even though they have impeccable reputation. After your suggestion, I went ahead and ran it.
    Bingo. As you said, now I know exactly what I'm looking for. 2x4GB for 45$ is a great deal which I'll go with.

    Actually it's not such a big deal. We recently replaced all personal and business PCs & laptops with Macs and our new IT guy handled the whole transition perfectly. I called him to get a quote for RAM replacement and he said it would cost me one cup of coffee. :) Very nice of him.

    I'm big into DIY, but believe me changing the RAM of an old Mini is no walk in the park. I bought my last set from OWC and those guys had an excellent instructional video on their web site.
    Unfortunately, the process involved special screwdrivers, spades AND a kitchen knife, all thanks to Apple. :mad:

    Nevertheless, I installed the modules, closed the Mini, turned it on and strange sounds came out. Then, I reopened, did the installation again and it was a success. It has been working perfectly ever since. But, I'm not going through it again. :eek:

    I agree with you re: a new browser, but unfortunately it's a no go for me and has nothing to do with Firefox itself, but certain add-ons. Much like iphone/ipad business.

    Multirow bookmarks bar, Flashgot, bookmark folders and the ability to customize the bookmark favicons are only some of the attributes that I can't do without. Therefore, until Safari and/or Chrome catch up, I'm stuck with Firefox.

    Below is a snapshot of my bookmarks bar. I'm sure you'll understand.

    Attached Files:

    • bar.jpg
      File size:
      127.8 KB
  20. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Hi Jenni.

    My 2x4GB Crucial kit arrived today. IT guy is on a business trip and being the impatient rascal, I went ahead and installed them myself. Much easier and quicker than I remembered.
    So far, everything is working perfect. Mini is flying between apps, amazing difference. (Knock on wood)

    I will check out the RAM situation later following some data usage.

    I can't thank you enough for your time, help and concern, but thanks a million anyway. You rock!!:)
  21. Jenni8 macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    So glad to hear your Mini is running much better now. Now that I have installed a number of apps and filters for my photo editing software. I see its not quite as fast as it was initially, but hey most any computer with very few apps will generally run quite fast. Although I didn't reinstall nearly as many has I had before, many which were completely redundant. But I find I can still use Photoshop and Lightroom at the same time without things slowing to a crawl. I still plan to add another 8GB to make things even quicker. It's seems weird though, but it wasn't that long ago when 1GB was considered fast, actually my last computer (PC) was 1GB.

    Thank you back for your enthused thanks. I am no advanced user, I just had a bit of experience with this issue myself and I did a ton of research, as my main issue was a simple hardware upgrade. Maybe some people have a worse RAM leak issue, and that could be a memory due to software, but it does seem that a majority of others could simply add more RAM. Sucks for those that are now forced to just buy a whole new system if their older Mac can't hang with current software. I do still find in running Safari, other things just don't work as well while its open. But it's still not the pain it was before.

    Hope the improvements stick well for you.
  22. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    After a week of usage, it's amazing to see that you and I still have the same perks.:eek:

    Mini is not coming to a halt, no pageouts, occasional beach balls mostly due to Microsoft software.

    But, I've seen Firefox shooting up to 1.7GB from time to time. I do have to work with at least 10 tabs so believe that's the main culprit.
    I've really tried switching to Safari but believe me it's not that much better in my case.

    Little processes here and there start emerging all the time eating up CPU. Photoshop works OK, Handbrake still a pain.

    The best solution that I could find is simply to restart my machine once in every two days when I'm taking a coffee or comfort break. Works well so far.

    I wish I could have more RAM like you, but the mechanics of my Mini prevent me from doing so.

    As you said, people with less programs running may have no trouble at all.
    My father has a 4GB MBA and uses a browser, Office programs from time to time and has no problems.
    My brother who had Snow running has started having pageouts after upgrading to ML. Tells me something abot the OS itself.

    Although I haven't had any inconveniences with my new MBP, I will be upgrading it to 16GB, just in case.

    However, for those people who are reading this topic and relying on more programs and plug-ins & extensions, try to get as much RAM as you can.

    Good old days when 1 or 2 gigs could fly a laptop.

    I also hope all your efforts bear fruit and you do not encounter any more difficulties.

    All the best,
  23. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
    Slowing down again? how many apps did you install?
  24. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    SIMBL Agent and PowerboxInjector belong to? You should try a clean installation of Mountain Lion + Firefox. You can use an external disk for this experiment.
  25. aoitsukinosuke thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Mr. Retrofire - They are for the ML sidebar which idiotically replaces the personalized folder icons with its dull grey ones. Are you inquiring or suggesting that I remove it?

    ML clean installation is way over my head, but Firefox is doable. I already did a clean install a few weeks ago. Would you still recommend another one?

    Thanks in advance.

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