Macbook Pro eating up resources for no apparent reason
August 10, 2010 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Why is my Macbook Pro using up its (hefty) resources like crazy?

I have a 15 inch Macbook pro, about 18 months old, with 4 GB of RAM and a 350 GB HD. I've got about 5 GB free storage space, but lately whenever I'm doing even the most basic tasks, the free space goes down and down until I get "disk almost full" warnings. I run a system monitor, and it shows that the RAM usage is almost consistently pegged at 2.75 - 3 GB. Cache issues? Some rogue process writing temp files like crazy? Is this just normal and I missed it before?
posted by nímwunnan to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Which process is using all that RAM?
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:40 AM on August 10, 2010

In my experience, this is normal on Macs with too little free hard drive space. 5 GB free on a 350 GB hard drive is not enough. I always maintain at least 10% free space on my main drive, usually more.
posted by smorange at 10:49 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Open Activity Monitor (/Applications/Utilities/Activity and check which process is using so much memory.
posted by ripley_ at 10:51 AM on August 10, 2010


Free some disk space. I very much expect this to resolve your problem.
posted by devbrain at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2010

I find there are issues with web browsers that have been open for a long time, especially if you're talking about Flash.
posted by Napierzaza at 11:29 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

nth-ing the free disk space issue. That free space is used by the OS as, essentially, extra RAM(called virtual memory). You don't need to leave 10%, necessarily (Hard disk sizes have far outstripped system requirements), but 10-15 GB is a good rule of thumb. If you do lots of really memory intensive tasks(video), or have a habit of leaving a billion different programs and windows running at the same time, leave more open space.
posted by rockindata at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2010

nthing suggestion to find and slay some old files you probably don't need.

If you chose to go the route of clearing off some stuff (which is a good idea), download and run Disk Inventory X - it will give you a graphical representation of what's on your drive and allow you to see what's taking up so much space. It's free, works on 10.3 and later.

Last time I used it, I found the entire Buffy series. I had completely forgotten about downloading it, and it was sitting in nested folders on my hard drive taking up many many GBs...
posted by jardinier at 12:25 PM on August 10, 2010

I have similar problems on a similarly-specced MacBook Pro, and have found two plug-ins helpful: Click to Flash, and a plug-in that forces youtube to use HTML5 video whenever possible. My MBP runs a lot more smoothly when I keep Flash to a minimum.
posted by Georgina at 7:18 PM on August 10, 2010

Monitor your "activity monitor" to see what applications are taking the most resources. if it's safari, is it too many tabs on it? or tabs with flash on it?

Attempt to get to 10% free space because the operating system defragments itself in a way, i.e. keeps the hard drive healthy for itself.

Finally, worst possible case try an anti-virus scan using clamxav.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 8:54 PM on August 10, 2010

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