MacBook Air (Mid-2013)- Annoying Beachball

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Hi,

Not all the time but occasionally I will have the beach-ball appear. My specs are in the screenshot below. Is this more related to a slow processor (i5) or the 4GB RAM? I am thinking it's the RAM

I understand that if you have 7+ apps opened at once, doing some photo/video editing or playing intense graphical games that the beachball would appear. However, I am not doing any of those things, I only have for example, Excel, Firefox, Preview and Word opened and get that beachball to appear.

Would it make a difference if I had an i7 instead of an i5? Or perhaps the RAM?

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 4.05.08 pm.png
 
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pigoo3

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It's a combination of:

- 4 gig of ram
- what's being done on the computer
- amount of time between reboots

I have a 13" MacBook Pro with 4gig of ram. And I need to reboot it every 5 days or so. It has to do with "stuff" that's tracked in Activity Monitor.

I also have a 17" MacBook Pro with 8gig of ram…and it hardly ever needs to be rebooted. That extra 4gig of ram seems to make a BIG difference.:)

- Nick
 
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Wow, I had no idea. Rebooting makes a difference?!

Edited: Not being sarcastic by the way. I had no idea
 

pigoo3

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Wow, I had no idea. Rebooting makes a difference?!

Rebooting absolutely makes a difference!:)

Here's a photo of Activity Monitor for Yosemite (below). If you notice in the lower left corner…there's a statistic for "Swap File". This Swap File gets larger & larger over time.

I usually find that when it gets over 1.5 gig in size I start getting "slowdowns"…and when it gets to 2.0gig to more…the beach balls start showing up more frequently. These are just rough numbers…I've not done any exact statistical analysis!;)

All I know is…when I start experiencing beachballs…and I check Activity Monitor…the swap file size is usually somewhere between 1.5 to 2.5gig. Definitely time to reboot. Then the Swap File size returns to zero.:)

HTH,

- Nick

Yosemite-Activity-Monitor-Memory-Tab.png
 

pigoo3

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I should have mentioned in my post above. That the "Swap File" size gets larger & larger over time. AND…it gets larger & larger FASTER…with the less installed ram.

So BIG differences in how fast the Swap File gets LARGE (and beachballs start to appear) between 2gig, 4gig, and 8gig of installed ram.

- Nick
 
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From what I have been told is that Apple 'glue' the RAM and processors onto the laptop. This is unfortunate if anyone wants to upgrade. Did Apple WANT to glue it, from a business perspective, or did they HAVE to glue it from an engineering perspective?
 

Slydude

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It might be a bit of both engineering and business. Can't say for sure why Apple chose this route but here are a few possibilities:

1. Market research telling them that significant number of users purchase their Macs with a given amount of ram and never add additional memory.

2. The design choice to make the machines themselves thinner and thinner necessitates design choices that make it more difficult for the "average" user to get inside the machine and add memory without damaging up something else.
 

pigoo3

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From what I have been told is that Apple 'glue' the RAM and processors onto the laptop. This is unfortunate if anyone wants to upgrade. Did Apple WANT to glue it, from a business perspective, or did they HAVE to glue it from an engineering perspective?

The MacBook Air's (like you have) were the first model computer Apple produced that had the non-upgadeable ram. So it's been this way for a while (in case you didn't know)…since the first MacBook Air's were released back in 2008. The next model computers with non-upgradeable ram were the retina MacBook Pro's…which first appeared in 2012.

So the MacBook Air's have had non-upgradeable ram for a long time.

As far as the "why did Apple do this question"….or for what reason (engineering or business). I of course don't know for sure. I'm not sure it has ever been officially explained. But I think that an argument can be made for both.

Engineering:

- Helps with thinness of the computer.
- Don't need to worry about "customer accessibility" of the ram. So the logic board can be designed differently.
- Maybe a very small difference in weight (every little bit helps).
- Maybe simpler & less costly manufacturing process.

Business:

- lower cost
- easier/less complex manufacturing
- thinner computer (customers like thinner & lighter)
- with non-upgradeable ram…folks may need to purchase a newer computer sooner than they otherwise might if the ram was upgradable (this means more $$$$ in Apple's "piggy-bank"!;)

* Nick
 
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i have already decided I have one of the best Mid-2013 Macbook AIrs ever made. I purchased it to basically be a netbook and keep my Quickbooks on. It has an i5 and 4GB of Ram with a 250GB SSD.

I have since stressed it to run Photoshop, Quickbooks, Chrome, Indesign - actually I have a bad habit of forgetting what I have open. And I have even done a remote to my work computer using Team Viewer.

I just looked at my Swap file usage - 122.3 MB. I don't even know the last time I restarted it. I am sure it was with the last security update that came last week. But I just never seem to remember to do it.

I have never had more than the occasional short lived beachball from this computer. (she says after she knocks on wood!) I must have gotten one that was built mid-week (there is a whole story behind this theory that originated at GM and car build days.) :D

Lisa

ActivityMonitor3-15-2015.jpg
 

pigoo3

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I have since stressed it to run Photoshop, Quickbooks, Chrome, Indesign - actually I have a bad habit of forgetting what I have open. And I have even done a remote to my work computer using Team Viewer.

I just looked at my Swap file usage - 122.3 MB. I don't even know the last time I restarted it.

How much time/day (minutes or hours) do you use this computer…and of that time…how much would you say is strictly internet & email use?

- Nick
 
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Depends on the day. Somedays I have to plug it in because I have exceeded the battery life which usually makes 10-12 hours depending on how intensive the activities are.

It is my only "at home" computer so if I am home, it is in use. I tend to do a lot on it in the evenings. I would guess at least 4 hours a day. I will bounce all over and am very prone to using Team Viewer to move something from work computer to my google drive to work on it at home. So how heavy depends on what I have flowing in my head that I need to do.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity I will plan to keep an eye on the swap file and stress her for a few days just for fun.

I will say out of all four of my macs, my MB Air is by far the smoothest running. I don't know why but she always has been. I have seen the many recommendations for at least 8gb of memory for Yosemite - which I agree is good. But I have had no issues with this on my Air and her 4GB of memory.

As I said she was built on a Wednesday!

Lisa
 

pigoo3

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Depends on the day. Somedays I have to plug it in because I have exceeded the battery life which usually makes 10-12 hours depending on how intensive the activities are.

It is my only "at home" computer so if I am home, it is in use. I tend to do a lot on it in the evenings. I would guess at least 4 hours a day. I will bounce all over and am very prone to using Team Viewer to move something from work computer to my google drive to work on it at home. So how heavy depends on what I have flowing in my head that I need to do.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity I will plan to keep an eye on the swap file and stress her for a few days just for fun.

I will say out of all four of my macs, my MB Air is by far the smoothest running. I don't know why but she always has been. I have seen the many recommendations for at least 8gb of memory for Yosemite - which I agree is good. But I have had no issues with this on my Air and her 4GB of memory.

Thanks for all the info Lisa.

From my experience the rebooting and swap file issue stuff relates to:

- amount of ram installed
- number of hours a person uses a computer/day (since more hours of use/day adds up to the computer doing more "things"/day…than someone who only uses their computer 1-2 hours/day).
- specific tasks done on the computer.

One thing that differs between what you do on your computers…and what I do on my computers…is online gaming. I might do 2-3 hours of online gaming/day…and maybe online gaming does something that causes the swap file to grow more quickly. And this translates into the beachballs showing up sooner…and thus needing to reboot more often.

- Nick
 
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Nick - you are probably right about gaming and swap file fill up. I have never been a gamer and have no desire to start. My youngest son is and spends a lot of his free time playing on-line. I have never seen the draw but that is why there is so much variety.

Lisa
 

pigoo3

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I have never seen the draw but that is why there is so much variety.

If you mean you've never been interested in gaming…you know how it is…to each their own. Some folks never get into gaming.:)

And when I say gaming…I'm not talking about traditional board or card games like chess, checkers, and solitaire. But much more involved, engrossing, and sucking the life out of you stuff!;)

Not that the games I mentioned are not challenging or fun. They just aren't the same kinds of games such as MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).;)

And don't think that it's an age-dependent thing either. I've been computer gaming since the late 1970's. And I know folks here on Mac-Forums ranging from teenagers to their 70's are "gamers"!:)

Anyway. Like I mentioned. I think that it's possible that these complex online games (which are VERY heavy on graphics & video)…and are constantly uploading & downloading info to the computer that's playing them. Are continuously transferring so much information (both ways)…that this could certainly play a big role in how quickly the swap file grows.

- Nick
 
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Nick - I totally understand the on-line multi-player role playing etc gaming. I may not play but I have helped my son build three gaming machines over the years - each one more beefy than the last. His current one is a Windows 7 based beast. He also has an XBox and a PlayStation - not sure what models - that he mutli-player games on. I even have a friend who runs his own Minecraft server. So I get the intensity of it.

The most stressful thing I do to a computer is when I am creating in After Effects. And I would never even attempt to run it on my MB Air!

Lisa
 

chscag

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Nick - I totally understand the on-line multi-player role playing etc gaming. I may not play but I have helped my son build three gaming machines over the years - each one more beefy than the last. His current one is a Windows 7 based beast.

Very fortunate young man to have a Mom who can do what you can do with computers. My son is real sharp with computers but he didn't learn any of it from his Mom. ;D
 

pigoo3

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Nick - I totally understand the on-line multi-player role playing etc gaming. I may not play but I have helped my son build three gaming machines over the years - each one more beefy than the last. His current one is a Windows 7 based beast. He also has an XBox and a PlayStation - not sure what models - that he mutli-player games on. I even have a friend who runs his own Minecraft server. So I get the intensity of it.

Good deal.:) I forgot you said that your youngest son was into gaming. I would imagine from time to time he try's to share his gaming achievements with you…and you do your best to act interested (as any great Mom would)!!!:)

- Nick
 

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