Talk about bad memory…

Posted: November 14, 2007 in Computing, General

Even though I recently bought a new computer, I still watch my Activity Monitor to get a good picture of what is going on. For you non-Mac users, the Activity Monitor is the utility that shows resource allocation (like memory, processor, network etc.) in Windows it’s called the Task Manager. This gives a pretty good idea of the current operating status.

Although the CPU usage is important, I find that lag is usually memory related, and not CPU related (and sometimes, quite mysteriously, neither). Checking the System Memory tab (and sorting your current apps by “Real Memory”) will give you an idea of what your memory space looks like.

I’m limited to my current 2GB RAM, there is no way I can increase this amount, so judgmental use of applications can really affect how my system performs. In my book the end-all-be-all number that defines success is my “Page outs:” number, the goal is 0 here. This means that my computer isn’t activating the virtual memory (pulling previously stored RAM from the hard drive). So I’ve begun to strip my system of certain utilities based on memory consumption. One of the first applications to go is Quicksilver, which is a pretty cool application launcher (and more), but it was a huge memory hog (grabbing more than 100MB of real RAM). I switched to ABCLaunch, which doesn’t look nearly as cool, but does what I was using Quicksilver for, but only eats 16MB of RAM.

Of course there are plenty of applications that I just can’t dump. Both Safari and Firefox tend to balloon up after use (I think Safari is worse though). I’ve seen Safari eating up 700+MB of ram (a third of my physical RAM). Safari only uses about 30MB of RAM on startup, so I’ll occasionally restart it, but I keep hoping that Apple will slim it down a bit.

There are a host of other apps that make me wonder what is taking up all the resources. Why do applications like the Dock, Activity Monitor, Terminal, and Preview (to name a few) take so much of my memory (the Terminal requires more RAM than the Finder to operate).

Is there any chance I will be able to survive on 2GB for less than a few years?

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