I've had Mavericks installed for over a few months now, and the computer has slowly been degrading since then. Before I installed Mavericks, my computer ran fine; now it is always using up all 4 GB of RAM that I have, and using up hard drive memory to keep it running, which makes the computer slow to the point where I can't even use it sometimes.

When I look at Activity monitor, my active tasks don't even add up to 2 GB, let alone 4. What on EARTH is the problem and how can I fix it? At this point I just want to do a factory reset on the darn thing.

  • 1
    It would be interesting to see three snapshots from your system. One showing the memory allocation after running for several days and your typical heavy load apps running. A second after a restart and logging in to the apps you have auto-start or resume (wait about 3 minutes after things start to get a balanced snap) and finally disabling all your apps that start at boot and resume and rebooting to get a clean, minimal picture of RAM allocation.
    – bmike
    Mar 3, 2014 at 22:42
  • What hard drive memory is being used and how do you know this?
    – mmmmmm
    Mar 4, 2014 at 0:19

2 Answers 2


Mavericks' new memory management tool was designed to do exactly that, use AS MUCH RAM as possible. See, "free ram" doesn't actually do anything until it's used. It's just there idle, waiting to be allocated. Mavericks uses physical memory much more in order to speed up actions. For example, closed applications and file will be cached until memory is needed, at which point they can be overwritten.

For example, my 24GB machine currently has around 14GB of file caches (after around 5 weeks of uptime). In total, 18 GB of my 24 is used. This demonstrates Mavericks attempt to cache everything possible. If not for file caches, I'd only be using 4GB of my 24GB of RAM, basically rendering 20GB (~83%) of my system memory (costing well over $300) as completely unused.

I don't think your performance issues are a result of the new memory management. If anything, there should be decreased disk access, faster load times, etc. You can try troubleshooting by running sudo purge in terminal to force the deletion of file caches and inactive pages. (Note: Free RAM ≠ faster performance)

  • is it safe to use the sudo purge ? I am seen more small short beach balls since 10.9 and my RAM is at limit of 4 Gig on MBA
    – Ruskes
    Mar 3, 2014 at 23:32
  • 2
    I've found the exact opposite actually (on my 5 year old MacBook with 4gb ram). Sudo purge is perfectly safe, but it's only really a troubleshooting feature; it'll make your machine slower than with file caching.
    – Alexander
    Mar 3, 2014 at 23:51

The easiest way to test a factory reset is to make a brand new user and disable the auto log in to prevent your typical presses from starting at boot.

You can then restart the OS and log in to the clean user and grab a baseline of the memory allocation your system software and add-on settings are using. Once you have that, you can start to measure and change and decide if it's due to the programs you are running or if the OS needs to be tuned for your workload. I commented on some data you can edit in the question and we can see if there is an easy fix for you.

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