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OS X Lion Bug: Safari guzzling massive amounts of RAM


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OS X Lion Bug: Safari guzzling massive amounts of RAM

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After installing OS X Lion last week, one of the things I've noticed is that Safari tends to run away with enormous amounts of RAM over time. A subprocess called "Safari Web Content" will sometimes use over a gigabyte of RAM. Since my Mac maxes out at 4 GB, and since it's a rare day that I'm only using Safari and nothing else, having so much of my system's RAM gobbled up by one process was bogging everything down.

Safari Web Content is a sandboxed subprocess of Safari that runs all webpage rendering. If you've got several dozen tabs open at once, it might make sense for the subprocess to use up that much RAM; however, I was seeing huge amounts of RAM usage even with only three or four tabs open. Four webpages shouldn't be consuming over a gigabyte of RAM. Many people's knee-jerk reaction has been to blame Flash for the excessive memory consumption, but that's not the case here; Flash runs as its own separate process and has nothing to do with the "Safari Web Content" process or its runaway RAM usage.

A few people have recommended disabling any Safari extensions you may have running to reclaim a big chunk of the RAM used up by Safari Web Content. Whether it's a bug in Safari 5.1 or incompatibility with older extensions, the theory goes that one or more of the extensions I've been running was the cause for Safari's excessive RAM usage. Disabling all but a handful of my Safari extensions brought the Safari Web Content subprocess's RAM usage down from 1.06 GB or more down to a much more manageable 300 - 320 MB with five tabs opened, but over time usage climbed to over 600 MB again, so it's possible one of my enabled extensions is the culprit.

As I write this, it's been around ten minutes since I restarted Safari the last time. I have only three extensions running -- Better Facebook, Rapportive, and ClickToFlash -- and I've browsed about ten pages between three tabs since relaunching Safari. Already Safari Web Content has consumed nearly 300 MB of RAM.

A subsequent test with all extensions disabled has caused Safari Web Content to go from its initial 148 MB all the way up to 251 MB of RAM after browsing 39 webpages -- most of them on Wikipedia, which isn't exactly known for data-heavy content. This doesn't seem normal to me.

This bug definitely seems to have been introduced in OS X Lion or Safari 5.1, and hopefully it's one we'll see addressed in a forthcoming update.

OS X Lion Bug: Safari guzzling massive amounts of RAM originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 27 Jul 2011 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.




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Feels like vindication - and it's a Safari bug - not a Lion bug.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post
Feels like vindication - and it's a Safari bug - not a Lion bug.
Well the article doesn't really confirm anything, just one guy's observations. It still feels like it's some kind of extension/plugin issue, especially since not everyone is seeing the problem.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by schweb View Post
Well the article doesn't really confirm anything, just one guy's observations. It still feels like it's some kind of extension/plugin issue, especially since not everyone is seeing the problem.
Just running down the comments - it's clear that quite a few people are. I'm happy to see this as for a while there I thought I was the lone victim since you guys weren't seeing this. I only run the 1P extension and click-to-flash - so unless one of those are the culprits - which is certainly possible - I think Safari is a tad leaky. I'm sure it'll be remedied soon.
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I had worse memory usage in Safai 5.0.5 under Snow Leopard. If I let it run with 3 tabs all day and night and woke up in the morning and checked, sometimes Safari was taking over 1GB RAM! Not Virtual either.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
I had worse memory usage in Safai 5.0.5 under Snow Leopard. If I let it run with 3 tabs all day and night and woke up in the morning and checked, sometimes Safari was taking over 1GB RAM! Not Virtual either.
1GB was normal operations for me as well, but never saw it get as high as it does now. It pretty much seemed to cap out at around 1GB.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schweb View Post
Well the article doesn't really confirm anything, just one guy's observations. It still feels like it's some kind of extension/plugin issue, especially since not everyone is seeing the problem.
I've tested with all extensions disabled in Snow Leopard. Safari 5.1 itself is most definitely what has issues. That said, it would be interesting if the problem only presents itself on certain hardware configurations.
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Safari Web content = 887.7 MB Real Mem
Safari = 593.1 MB Real Mem

Only plug-in I have is Click to Flash.

Update: I decided to quit Safari and when I opened it again, my memory usage dropped drastically. Sitting now around 118MB and 88MB respectively.
Interestingly, Flash Player (Safari Internet plug-in) is now using more than everything else. 156MB

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This is nothing new. Safari leaked memory in Snow Leopard and it looks like it continues to do so with the new version. It's possible some extensions are adding to the leakage but I believe Safari itself is the culprit. About the only thing you can do is restart Safari every so often to reduce the leakage, at least until Apple fixes it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
I had worse memory usage in Safai 5.0.5 under Snow Leopard. If I let it run with 3 tabs all day and night and woke up in the morning and checked, sometimes Safari was taking over 1GB RAM! Not Virtual either.
Agree. This may be "new" bit Safari has had a memory issue for a while now.


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I took this just a second ago. Safari may have had a leak previously - but it's interesting that I never saw it discussed until now. Maybe it was just one of those things that was understood by all already. As I said before - it always seemed to cap out around 1MB or so - at least for me - but with 5.1... even in the time it took me to upload this to photobucket - I'm now a little over 3GB with Safari. Probably time for a Safari restart.

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The reason you're likely seeing so much more than the rest of us is because you have the memory "to spare." It's still atrocious but I get the feeling that if I used Safari for a day, it wouldn't come close to 3GB (I see an experiment for tomorrow).

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But here's my point that I don't think it can really be said to be a universal issue and has to be tied to some kind of configuration. I've been running Safari 5.1 on my system for days. No restarts, no quits and here's what I'm seeing:



I'm running these extensions as well as the Flash 11 plugin:


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Quote:
Originally Posted by schweb View Post
But here's my point that I don't think it can really be said to be a universal issue and has to be tied to some kind of configuration. I've been running Safari 5.1 on my system for days. No restarts, no quits and here's what I'm seeing:
Don't disagree at all - I definitely won't be surprised to find that the graphics glitch is hardware specific.

Quote:
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The reason you're likely seeing so much more than the rest of us is because you have the memory "to spare." It's still atrocious but I get the feeling that if I used Safari for a day, it wouldn't come close to 3GB (I see an experiment for tomorrow).
I'll send you links to all my usual spots on the web
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post
I'll send you links to all my usual spots on the web
Knowing what I do of you, I'm not sure I want to see what you do on the web.

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