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  • Where does the RAM memory go?

     John Rofrano updated 4 years, 3 months ago 3 Members · 5 Posts
  • Robert Withers

    February 11, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Out of curiosity, I started looking at how much free system memory I have before starting Premiere CC, using Activity Monitor.
    After restart, I usually see 12+ on this MBP with 16 G RAM.
    But if I open a few programs (such as Firefox, Safari) and then close them, the free memory number drops precipitously, even though they don’t show up as active in Activity Monitor.
    Is free memory really smaller?
    If I restart it goes back up again.
    What is Activity Monitor telling me?

    Robert Withers

    Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City

  • Robert Withers

    February 11, 2017 at 5:12 am

    Mac OS 10.8.5.

  • Robert Withers

    February 11, 2017 at 5:34 am

    Now I noticed tonight that maybe when I leave the machine alone for awhile — eg 15 minutes– Activity Monitor shows the Free Memory has crept back up to 12+. I’ve noticed this cool-down effect with other operations, like being able to eject a hard drive after closing Pr Pro. Is this a thing?

    Robert Withers

    Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City

  • Al Bergstein

    February 11, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Yes, the OS should free up that memory after the application closes. But some applications open background processes that remain in memory until shutdown.They can be known as “helper” apps, like the one that monitors your connnection to Adobe’s cloud etc. I’m not sure how Premiere works, but there are Adobe background processess at play. If you want to quickly free up all memory for another huge app, like photoshop for example, then reboot. But I’ve not found any problem really requiring that. The OS is pretty efficient, by and large. The sign of running out of memory has been that the app starts to behave erratically and maybe crashes. By opening AM and watching the use of the memory, you can make a determination of whether you need to add RAM. My few times of having memory issues was when I would run Pr and use a large amount of effects, then try and send it out to be processed by Media Encoder. That’s where the failures of memory use would often show up.

    Hope this helps without getting too technical.


  • John Rofrano

    February 12, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Today, macOS Memory management is no longer a binary used/unused thing. The OS is optimizing memory based on the likelihood of you using it again. It also has algorithms for compressing memory, etc. It does this for better performance. It knows what memory is available to reclaim but it doesn’t always reclaim it immediately, but if an application requested it, it would reclaim it as needed. You should not be worrying about this unless you are seeing performance or stability problems.

    If you really want to free up memory, there is a free utility called Memory Clean in the App Store that will do just that. What the program actually does is demand all of the memory in your Mac and then releases it. This forces the OS to reclaim any memory that it knows is free but hasn’t reclaimed yet and then gives it to Memory Clean which then releases it so that you now see a big chunk of free memory. All that it really does is give you a “warm fuzzy feeling” about free memory and actually defeats the performance gains that the OS is trying to give you by not reclaiming it immediately.

    Microsoft had a huge PR problem with Vista because it would use free memory as a cache in an effort to pre-load what it thinks you will need next and customers complained that all of their free memory was being used up. They were actually asking Microsoft to make their computers run slower because they wanted to see more free memory. It’s completely ridiculous to worry about free memory unless you are having issues. Otherwise just enjoy the fact that the programmers who wrote the OS know slightly more about memory theory than you do and let them do their job and use your free memory to improve performance. 😉


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