I have 32GB of memory and am downloading stuff over FTP using FileZilla. My memory usage is 31GB with 30GB of that being allocated for wired memory. Is this normal when downloading stuff over FTP?

enter image description here

UPDATE: after a bit more usage it looks like FileZilla was just a red herring. Kernel task is the one causing the ballooning Wired Mem usage. To be precise, here are the top three offenders and the wired memory usage.

1732608 com.nvidia.web.NVDAGP100HalWeb
6787072 com.nvidia.web.NVDAResmanWeb
8089600 com.apple.driver.AirPort.BrcmNIC

this was obtained by running

kextstat | awk 'NR==1{ printf "%10s %s\n", $5, $6; } NR!=1{ printf "%10d %s\n", $5, $6; }' | sort -n

which i found here: Why does leaked memory appear malloced to kernel_task, and why can't OS X therefore garbage collect it

here are latest screenshots from activity monitor. enter image description here enter image description here

why would the wifi driver be using up 8GB of wired memory? why would nvidia webdriver use up 7GB of wired memory?

  • We might need to hop in Ask Different Chat to work out a couple things like where the GB are (you're only showing 2% of the storage) and if you log out and back in, without opening apps if the allocations change before you restart the OS.
    – bmike
    Jan 19, 2019 at 14:34
  • Memory pressure is green, and you're not swapping much out. If you're not seeing any slowdowns or beachballing, then MacOS is managing the memory well.
    – benwiggy
    Jan 19, 2019 at 15:04
  • Well said @benwiggy - and even if there is a slowdown or UI block, it’s not going to be memory ontention causing the issue.
    – bmike
    Jan 19, 2019 at 18:49
  • I'm no expert on MacOS internals, and didn't know what "wired memory" is until I googled it, but perhaps this is the same thing as the old linuxatemyram.com ? Jan 19, 2019 at 19:25
  • I disagree with @benwiggy. There is something wrong with 29GB in Wired memory. That is pages locked in RAM which stops macOS from managing virtual memory in the normal way. I have slowly increasing Wired memory and would like to know how to find out what is using it.
    – Gilby
    Jan 19, 2019 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


Most everything looks normal since the system reports it is able to fulfill all active memory requests (which is what green signifies), but we're not seeing the whole picture to understand the wired summary since your screen image doesn’t show all processes or wired allocations.

  1. The job of virtual memory is to keep everything loaded in RAM and only have just enough to satisfy a burst of requests. It will free up space only when needed, so large wired alone is no worry.
  2. You have no growth of swap space to speak of - so there's no runaway memory leak.
  3. The pressure graph is green so the system knows it can toss all sorts of cached memory and objects if a program needs more RAM and no requests are being slowed or denied.
  4. Wired isn't typically that high in my workloads, but more data is needed to know if that's causing any issues.

However, there are specific tools and a process to pin down exactly what process(es) have allocated wired memory as well as to watch real time the virtual memory statistics using vm_stat to validate my hunch / opinion (I don’t have enough data to be certain) that things are fine here.

In addition to my answer linked above - these threads are relevant for how wired memory used to work Lion and expecially 10.6 and older OS X. On the latest macOS, I’m not convinced excess wired is a problem anymore, but I’d love to help investigate if anyone can reproduce this case here with 90% or more of total memory being reported as Wired.

  • 1. The wired memory is fixed in RAM, so a bit hard to satisfy even a small burst of requests. 3. There is only 700MB of cached memory. Not much to be tossed out as required. 4. High wired will certainly cause issues (because it can't be paged out) if you try and run a memory hungry app.
    – Gilby
    Jan 19, 2019 at 22:13
  • @Gilby Thank you for the comments. I would love to see the results of sysdiagnose FileZilla or whatever program / process that is using the most wired memory. In this question we’re lacking that level of detail. I bet one of us learns a lot, and I’m hoping it’s me. I can’t reproduce this scenario to validate my assumption that wired is being reported wrongly and there’s actually not a problem.
    – bmike
    Jan 19, 2019 at 22:19
  • Understanding what is using Wired has been bugging me for some time and I have not made much progress :( In the Activity Monitor screenshot, the numbers add up (App memory + Wired + Compressed + Cached = Physical). I will look further (but it won't be quick).
    – Gilby
    Jan 19, 2019 at 22:30
  • @Gilby Any time in the next 6 months is fine. I am patient and have been here writing about VM since 2012. Heck, remind me that I’ll bounty your question if you’re not happy with the answers it gets once it gets posted. Just be sure to get any sysdiagnose before you restart next time you catch this pattern, and get a second sysdiagnose after you reboot.
    – bmike
    Jan 19, 2019 at 22:32
  • i've found out that the nvidia web driver and airport are taking up the majority of the ballooning kernel_task allocation of wired memory. please see edit in original post
    – user25849
    Feb 15, 2019 at 3:10

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