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When Do I Need to Upgrade My RAM Memory?

By September 21, 2015How To

The first step to determining whether or not you need more RAM memory space is by checking out the specs of your system’s memory. To see this information you can go to Finder> Applications> Utilities> Activity Monitor or just spotlight search “Activity Monitor.” Click the “Memory” tab at the top to see what is taking up space on your Mac computer.
Upgrade Mac Computer RAM Memory
A good visual indicator of your computer’s memory usage can be seen in the graph at the bottom of the window. In the memory pressure graph, you can physically see how the memory is being used. Green represents the free space in your computer’s memory. More green is good. Yellow on the graph is “free” memory that is temporarily being used. Red represents memory is that is depleted. The more red you have, the more likely it is you need to upgrade your RAM memory.
Understanding how your memory is being used (and whether it means you need a RAM upgrade or not) is easier if you take a look at the specs next to the graph. Your physical memory is the amount of memory your computer comes with, the capacity of its memory. Below, it shows memory used. This is the memory that is being occupied currently on your Mac. This is broken down, to the right, into three categories: app memory, wired memory, and compressed. App memory, as you could guess, is the memory taken up by the apps on your Mac. Wired memory is memory that cannot be compressed. Information in wired memory is important to the function of the app or utility it belongs to and thus needs to remain there. The amount of wired memory each app uses is determined by the app’s developer. Compressed is inactive information that was compressed to make more free memory.
The two other specs listed are cached files and swap used. Cached files are bits of information that are still live in your computer’s memory but are ready to be over-written. For instance, messages that are in iMessage after you close the program. If this memory isn’t erased and re-used for another app before you re-open iMessage, the program will open up much more quickly. “Swap used” is the amount of these cached files that have been written over.
Kernal Task in RAM Memory
One series of questions we get a lot at Mac Enthusiasts is about kernal_task. Kernal tasks are programs required by the system’s OS. Sometimes these can take up a lot of active memory space. If the size of these processes gets too large, you can lessen it by restarting your computer. The longer you have your computer running, the larger this gets.
Back to the graph: you see a lot of yellow and red memory, but you still see a lot of green. You’re still wondering if you should upgrade your RAM. While you’ve now learned that there are a few processes in place to condense inactive memory and rewrite over temporary files, creating more free memory, the more these processes are used, the more overworked your computer is. These processes are meant to be short-term solutions to your memory usage. They do not solve the long-term problem of needing more memory. If your Mac is very slow, constantly popping up with the “beach ball of doom,” and switching between apps takes much longer than it should, then you should probably look into upgrading your RAM. If you’re a numbers person and your free memory is at 10% or less, then you should definitely consider upgrading your RAM.
Once you’ve realized the next step is adding more memory to your Mac, you don’t have to do much else. If you bring your Mac into Mac Enthusiasts, we can take care of the rest for you. There’s not much waiting time, as most RAM upgrades can be done by our team within the same day! RAM upgrades start at $39 and most don’t cost more than that. Waiting won’t fix the problem, but choosing a RAM upgrade with Mac Enthusiasts can improve the way you work every day from here on out. If you have any more questions about memory upgrades, you can call (800)448-1892 or contact us online.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jeff Evans says:

    My computer has been going really slow lately and I am not sure what I need to replace to make it speed up. I never knew that the kernal tasks on the computer were used by the OS system, and they do take up quite a bit of space. I will have to make sure that I get a better ram on my computer so that it has some more space. Thanks!

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