For many months, I chased after the cause of my computer, a late-2006 MacBook with Snow Leopard and all available updates installed, locking up, forcing me to restart. It locked with a spinning cursor and didn't respond to ctrl-option-esc, or to anything other than a power switch forced restart.

I have lately discovered that the freezes were caused by running out of memory. Using FreeMem Pro, I'm able to monitor memory usage, and to prevent the locks by freeing up memory when it grows short.

The problem seems to be related to gradual growth in the size of wired memory, which starts out at about 1/2 GB and grows to 1.5 GB or more. (This model is limited to 2GB of physical RAM.)

In turn, the growth of wired memory use appears to be related to Safari. Quitting Safari releases a big chunk of memory to free memory. Relaunching Safari then begins chewing up wired memory once more. I've scoured the Apple User Forums and other such resources where I found similar reports to mine but no worthy answers to WHY it occurs.

2 Answers 2


The answer is simple: Safari just needs (or wastes) a lot of memory! If you only have 2GB RAM, use Googles Chrome Browser or Firefox.

2GB of RAM is just not enough for todays Computer. Be sure to only open one app at the time, and close it when you are finish.

An Operating System handles the RAM by itself. When it's out of RAM, it stores the user-cache-data on the Hard Drive, so the Computer gets very slow.

And for browsing: Websites with lots of flash content needs more memory, than simple text sites. I've had a MacBook Air with only 2GB of RAM, and it was just impossible to work with!


Well there are a couple things with that. It is possible that the website you use like to refer to a cache of cookies and preloaded info on your system. Have you tried resetting Safari (Safari menu > Reset Safari)? There is also a great system clean-up app called Onyx which I run once in a blue moon when my system feels a bit sluggish. Does the issue also occur while using other browser. All browsers will eat up memory but the question then comes does it happen with the same sites in the same amount of time? Possibility is that maybe Java or flash (in the background of Safari) are having some issues. Try reseting your browser, clearing the caches from ~/Library/ and if possible... try a known good OS from an external drive (that was fresh installed with all updates) and see if it occurs there. Another quick tip would be to use the supplied Apple AHT on your install DVDs and see if they find any issues.

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