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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

MacBook constantly freezing - do I need more RAM?


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tariq86

 
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My MacBook is constantly freezing. At seemingly random times the spinning rainbow will start, and sometimes last for a few minutes. For the past couple of days, the computer is stalling all the time, almost more than it is running. I have plenty of room on the HDD (over 100 gigs) and there's no problems with outdated software, cluttered desktop, temperature/overheating.

MacBook (late 2009)
OS X 10.6.8
Processor: 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory: 2 GB 1067 MHz DDR3

When I look at Activity Monitor, usually only about 10-25% CPU is being used. But the Free System Memory usually starts around 900 MB and falls down to as low as a few hundred. Every time I've restarted my computer in the last couple of weeks I have built up some Page Outs. I don't think I've seen them exceed around 900 KB. Also, under System Memory, under the pie chart it says 1.75 GB, and for 'Used' it says 1.68 GB. Does that mean I need more memory? And that this isn't a hard drive problem? Is there something that's using up all of my memory? Or would I benefit from buying some more?
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Originally Posted by tariq86 View Post
Does that mean I need more memory? And that this isn't a hard drive problem? Is there something that's using up all of my memory? Or would I benefit from buying some more?
While something "could" be eating up your RAM (we need to know WHAT you are running), 2 GB is really rather meager. I would recommend 4 GB as a baseline these days.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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tariq86

 
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Usually I'm just running Chrome, iTunes, sometimes Word or watching movies. But even with just one of those open my computer still stalls all the time.
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When you start talking about it lasting for a few minutes, in my experience, this has always been a hard drive failing. Even if your memory is full, you may see slow downs while it accesses virtual memory, but on the apps you're talking about, it doesn't take several minutes to read/write to virtual memory unless there's is an issue with the drive.

I'd suggest you boot with your OS X disc and run a repair of the drive. If it does any repairs, do it again until it reports it's ok.

On my own machine, I'd make sure I had a back up prior to doing the repair.

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tariq86

 
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I'm overseas and don't have my OS X disc. Could maybe get it sent to me. I might know others with their discs though, is it necessary to use my own? Thanks for the help.
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tariq86

 
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Also, I've been watching my Activity Monitor throughout the day and right now here's what it says under system memory:

Free: 55 MB
Wired: 475 MB
Active: 1020 MB
Inactive: 500 MB
Used: 1.95 GB
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xxmacbethxx

 
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From My experiances it sounds to me either RAM or HDD drive is going bad my money is more then likely on the HDD id listen for noises when it does this if you hear scrapping or scratching more then likely it would be the HDD.

since your saying your over seas im assuming you are in afghanistan you could also just try cleaning it out it is dusty as **** over here and heat can slow down a computer.

In disc utility you can also try repairing your HDD im not 100% sure what this does but if it is a HDD issue id assume it might help or even point you in the right direction.

I dont belive you need to use your own disc any should work id imagine.
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tariq86 View Post
Also, I've been watching my Activity Monitor throughout the day and right now here's what it says under system memory:

Free: 55 MB
Wired: 475 MB
Active: 1020 MB
Inactive: 500 MB
Used: 1.95 GB
If this is what you are seeing while idle, you definitely either need more RAM, or need to figure out if you are running something that is taking it all up. 55 MB free is negligible. It may as well be 0. While sitting idle, is anything showing in Activity Monitor taking up a large amount of the CPU %? Also, anything you have installed that is expected to be running in the background? See my signature…


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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tariq86

 
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Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
If this is what you are seeing while idle, you definitely either need more RAM, or need to figure out if you are running something that is taking it all up. 55 MB free is negligible. It may as well be 0. While sitting idle, is anything showing in Activity Monitor taking up a large amount of the CPU %? Also, anything you have installed that is expected to be running in the background? See my signature…
This is what I see when just running Chrome and iTunes, but it's similar numbers even when just running one program. iTunes, even when it's the only program open, will pause every few seconds. There's nothing that seems to be taking up any large % of CPU in the Activity Monitor; for example, right now I'm just using Chrome, and it's staying between 1 and 15% CPU. Everything else is staying at 2% or below, everything adding up to no more that about 20%. And still my computer is freezing quite a bit. I don't have anything that runs in the background. What exactly happens to RAM? Can there be something else using it, or does it sometimes just become ineffective and you have to get more?
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tariq86 View Post
This is what I see when just running Chrome and iTunes, but it's similar numbers even when just running one program. iTunes, even when it's the only program open, will pause every few seconds. There's nothing that seems to be taking up any large % of CPU in the Activity Monitor; for example, right now I'm just using Chrome, and it's staying between 1 and 15% CPU. Everything else is staying at 2% or below, everything adding up to no more that about 20%. And still my computer is freezing quite a bit. I don't have anything that runs in the background. What exactly happens to RAM? Can there be something else using it, or does it sometimes just become ineffective and you have to get more?
Well as the OS advances in complexity and features, the more RAM you need. Your existing RAM doesn't become "ineffective" over time, it just sometimes isn't enough for the needs of the system. 5 years ago, 2 GB would have been fine for your uses. Today, on Snow Leopard, 4 GB is really the minimum you need to avoid over-using the hard drive for caching.

That said… it's still an open possibility that your drive is going bad. Or that you have other hardware issues. You really need to try and backup your system now if you have anything you need to secure, then look into testing your drive and hardware more thoroughly. The Apple Hardware Test will check your RAM and other components for errors, but you will need the original discs that came with your Mac. As for checking the drive, you can do "Verify Disk" and "Repair Disk" while booted from either your original install disc, or any retail install disc that is compatible with your model.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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dekan

 
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In activity monitor you can also sort the list of running apps/services by used memory. Do that and have a look at the top if there is something weird. Like a browser using 700mb or something.

I had a similar issue with my late 2007 MBP running 2GB of RAM. I bought 4, put those in there and noticed a big difference. Even if my MBP of that age only addresses 3GB ;-)

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tariq86

 
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Doesn't look like there's anything in particular using up a huge amount of memory. I think I'll have to try adding some memory. Thanks for the help.
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tariq86

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
Well as the OS advances in complexity and features, the more RAM you need. Your existing RAM doesn't become "ineffective" over time, it just sometimes isn't enough for the needs of the system. 5 years ago, 2 GB would have been fine for your uses. Today, on Snow Leopard, 4 GB is really the minimum you need to avoid over-using the hard drive for caching.

That said… it's still an open possibility that your drive is going bad. Or that you have other hardware issues. You really need to try and backup your system now if you have anything you need to secure, then look into testing your drive and hardware more thoroughly. The Apple Hardware Test will check your RAM and other components for errors, but you will need the original discs that came with your Mac. As for checking the drive, you can do "Verify Disk" and "Repair Disk" while booted from either your original install disc, or any retail install disc that is compatible with your model.
Thanks for the advice! Everything's backed up now. I'll just have to wait to get my install disc and hope everything goes well.
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tariq86

 
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Well, I finally received my new memory sticks and my original installation disk in the mail. I ran disk repair using the install disk and it made one small repair but said everything was fine, then ran it again and it said the disk had no problems. Then today I just installed the memory upgrade (to 4 GB) and it seems to be working slightly faster, but still stalling randomly. It does it whether I'm just using Safari or Chrome, or have iTunes, Word, etc, open at the same time. I've been watching Activity Monitor and there are no page outs or swaps happening. The 'free memory' started out at about 3 GB, but it's been gradually decreasing and after an hour or two of using the new memory it's at about 2.5 GB - is that normal? What else could possibly be causing the pauses? (When I changed out the memory, I did notice there's a little bit of dust inside, but not a ton, and I didn't want to risk damage by wiping or blowing it out.)
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Frazer

 
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any updates on this?

I have 4gb, and my computer freezes like you said for minutes at a time if I am only running chrome (with 30 tabs), ical, and text edit.

something seems wrong
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