macbook memory drain

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The memory on my MacBook Leopard has started draining every time I use the computer, forcing me to restart it every few hours. When I first log in, there is about 1 G of free space; I use Safari, MS Word, and iTunes (as well as a program that allows me to access the internet through a SIM card) for a few hours and suddenly I'm getting all these pop-ups that I need to clear space, iTunes says it can't save, and my Word documents won't save, either. If I open finder it says "zero KB available." I know there is space because I cleared a bunch of videos and other things that take up a lot of room; why does all that space go away after a few hours of use? I really need a solution to this problem -- I am abroad for the next year and can't just go buy a new computer. If you have any ideas, PLEASE share them. Thank you!
 

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Are we talking hard drive space here or RAM?

If space - what size is your OS X partition and how much free space do you have?

If RAM, how much do you have?

Specs of your Mac wouldn't hurt either.
 
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Open Activity Monitor (under Utilities), click on the Real Memory column heading, so that the triangle points down. Which processes take up more than 100MB?
(Do it when you're running out of memory)
 
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Pretty sure it's hard drive space; the pop-ups say that my hard drive is almost out of memory. I'm not very tech savvy so I'm not sure what you mean by a lot of those questions but here's some more info about my computer in case it helps... under "about this mac" it says version 10.5.8, 1 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM. Under the hardware section it says I have 1GB of memory, which was what was initially showing up in the bottom of the Finder window when I restarted. Now, just a couple of days later, I am noticing that it's down to about 300MB when I restart. I haven't downloaded anything or created any documents since then so I'm not sure what's going on there. I'm sure I missed the answer to one of your questions -- if I did, could you be more specific about what you mean? I don't know a lot of the terminology.

saurongt -- i opened activity monitor and Safari is taking up close to 200MB, but nothing else is over 100. Is this unusual?
 
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When you deleted the video, did you empty the trash? Did you really delete the file in the first place or just remove it from iTunes and leave it on your drive?

You really need to delete a lot of files, and then empty the trash. Alternatively you can buy an inexpensive external drive and copy files to it, but you then have to delete them from the internal drive. And EMPTY the TRASH.

It is possible you have something very large too. When my computer was down to about 10gb I started looking and couldn't figure out where all the space went. It turns out my son's account was using about 170gb of the 250gb on the drive. In the meantime he had bought himself a Macbook and didn't need any of it, but he left it on the hard drive hidden from me.

The 1gb under "about this mac" is the RAM, the 300mb in the finder is the hard drive space remaining. These are unrelated. What you care about right now is that the 300mb is insufficient space to do anything. You should have at least 10gb available, so that means if you make the space you shouldn't just start saving files, videos, music, pictures until you run out again.
 
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Yes, thank you, I emptied the trash. The files weren't ever in iTunes. The problem is not that I have too much on my hard drive -- the problem is that when i restart, finder tells me i have a certain amount of space, and after using the computer for a while, all of that memory drains away. If i'm not mistaken, that shouldn't happen. I have already deleted so many large files and it just seems like no matter how many I delete, the space that I free up just leaks away. I'm not adding anything new. This is a legitimate leak.
 
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Yes, thank you, I emptied the trash. The files weren't ever in iTunes. The problem is not that I have too much on my hard drive -- the problem is that when i restart, finder tells me i have a certain amount of space, and after using the computer for a while, all of that memory drains away. If i'm not mistaken, that shouldn't happen. I have already deleted so many large files and it just seems like no matter how many I delete, the space that I free up just leaks away. I'm not adding anything new. This is a legitimate leak.

Right click your HD icon in the upper right hand corner, and select "get info" Post back your drive capacity, how much space you have left, and how much you have used.
 
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Drive capacity: 111.47 GB
Space left: 214.2 MB
Space used: 111.26 GB on disk

The thing is that the space left drains out without me saving anything new. It drains even when I'm just on the internet, or listening to music. It's been about an hour since I restarted; there were about 300 MB back then. I clear space, don't put anything new there, and then the space just vanishes again.
 
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Black MacBook 2.2GHz C2D, 4GB Ram - iMac G4 700MHz, 512MB Ram
Drive capacity: 111.47 GB
Space left: 214.2 MB
Space used: 111.26 GB on disk

The thing is that the space left drains out without me saving anything new. It drains even when I'm just on the internet, or listening to music. It's been about an hour since I restarted; there were about 300 MB back then. I clear space, don't put anything new there, and then the space just vanishes again.

THERE is your problem. Mac OS X naturally uses something called virtual memory, which is created by using the free space available on your Hard Drive. You should have at LEAST 5GB or so of free space for your computer to function properly. 300MB is not enough. :p
 

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You are asking for problems. Frankly, I'm surprised your machine is running at all. As MacDude121 has advised, you need to get some stuff off that drive. imho, 5 GB is not anywhere near enough free space if you want a machine that functions properly. 5 GB won't even allow it to use it's virtual memory properly, because that VM space will be spread out from one end of the drive to the other instead of in one contiguous area of the drive. And that's not to mention having enough space for OS X to be able to keep your files optimized (aka defragmented) or the space it uses to create the sleep image file.

You need to keep a bare minimum of 15% free space. With that 111 GB drive, this means a minimum 17 GB free space. My guess, it's unlikely you have 15-20 GB of stuff you just want to trash. I'm also guessing you have no backup drive. You're only asking to lose all of your data here.

My advice - today, not tomorrow, not online and wait 2 days to get it - today - go to your nearest electronics store and get yourself 2 new hard drives - one internal drive at least 250GB in size to replace the one currently in your machine and a second external drive (500GB or larger) to begin making backups.

The very first thing you need to do is open up Finder, head for your Downloads folder and delete every app download out of there that you have already installed into your Applications folder. Then delete every music or video download in there that has been copied into the iTunes folder. Then delete everything else out of there that you don't have to have that can be easily downloaded at a later time.

And empty the trash. Don't wait until you've deleted gobs of stuff before you empty the trash. Empty the trash with every 2-3 items you delete. It is imperative that you free up space on that drive quickly. After you've gotten up to around 2 GB free space you can begin breathing a little easier.

If you're up to 5 GB free space after the above, I'll say you're at least in the safe zone - safe - related to not losing all your data. If you're not up to 5 GB free space yet, then you need to head into your Documents folder next. Start deleting anything in there you no longer need. If you don't know - open the file up, see what it is - don't need it, then delete it. Your goal here is to get to that 5 GB MacDude mentioned.

Once you're at the 5 GB free space, you'll download CarbonCopyCloner, install it, connect the external drive, format it to HFS, open CCC and clone your internal drive over to the external. Once that is done, you need to boot the machine to that external drive, make sure it's working and all your data is there, then it's time to shut down, replace the internal drive, boot to the external again and then clone the external back to your new internal drive.
 
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Okay, sounds good. But what I'm really asking is this -- I HAVE deleted lots of stuff, but the space keeps going away. Where's the threshold when that will stop happening? I clear space, it tells me I have x amount of room, and then the next time I turn on my computer, there's way less room than before. Where is it going?
 

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It is being used by both Virtual memory and the sleep image.
 
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Okay, sounds good. But what I'm really asking is this -- I HAVE deleted lots of stuff, but the space keeps going away. Where's the threshold when that will stop happening? I clear space, it tells me I have x amount of room, and then the next time I turn on my computer, there's way less room than before. Where is it going?

How much have you been deleting? Deleting a couple videos or a few songs out of itunes is NOT gonna cut it, you need to clear at least 5-10GB if you want the rest of your data to be safe.

Also, make sure you're emptying the trash after you drag the stuff you want to delete in there, otherwise it's still on the HD even in the trash.
 
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Yes, thank you, I understand. I am clearing files. But no one is answering my question! I am asking for a clear explanation, minus technical terms, of what is happening and WHY. Why is the memory I clear going away? Where is it going? Will it come back when I clear 5-10GB? For example if I clear like 1GB of space, and then after a bit it starts telling me I have 0 KB again... what has happened to that 1GB?
 
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Yes, thank you, I understand. I am clearing files. But no one is answering my question! I am asking for a clear explanation, minus technical terms, of what is happening and WHY. Why is the memory I clear going away? Where is it going? Will it come back when I clear 5-10GB? For example if I clear like 1GB of space, and then after a bit it starts telling me I have 0 KB again... what has happened to that 1GB?

That's all being used by virtual memory I assume, I know that my virtual memory usage has gotten up to 3GB or so before.

Tell you what, clear 5GB+ of space, and see if the problem persists. If it does, we can look into it to see if there's other issues at play here as to where your space is going. :Smirk:
 
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1gb is NOT a lot of room. You REALLY, REALLY need to have about 10gb of headroom. The 1gb is taken by virtual memory and disappears. Since you have no headroom at all you crash before it can be returned to the pool. You are probably corrupting the space that you do have.

Take the advice here and go buy a backup and secondary drive. Move a lot of files over to it, then delete them from your primary drive as they aren't really moved, just copied. It will take a little time to move 50gb, but I'd really recommend doing that much. After you move and delete the files, EMPTY the trash. After you've done that, report back here and let us all know whether this solved your problem.

I was down to about 3gb of space, and I started having problems. Nothing major, but I could tell the system was much slower. I cleared about 40gb and all was fine.
 
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Thanks zacster, best and clearest answer yet. I cleared 6 gb and it's already depleting. So you think i need to clear a few more gbs and it should stop happening? Is 10 enough or do I need even more? i'm just in a tricky situation b/c i'm not in america and i don't have access to the kind of electronics stores you're all expecting me to visit. thankfully i have a flash drive with about 15 GB so i've been moving things onto that, and I do have most of my files backed up on a hard drive that i left at home in america so if worst comes to worst i can start deleting things outright. I'll let you know when i figure out my problem. Thanks again.
 

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Sorry, but there is no "clear" explanation without technical terms.

You need to re-read my first post. You need to clear that 15% of space - or 15 to 17 GB I noted there if you do not want to continue experiencing ongoing issues with your computer. Once you've done that and you're not going to get another drive, then I'd also highly recommend you get a defragging app such as iDefrag and defrag that drive - after you have the minimum amount of space free.

You've been provided with the answer to what is eating up your drive space at least a couple of times - that would be Virtual Memory and the Sleep Image file. Both of which are deleted when you turn off the machine and once again begin recreating themselves when you turn it back on.

If you really want to know and understand what's happening instead of just getting your machine functioning properly, then you have to understand what these two files are and what they're doing.
Sleep Image
Virtual Memory - this one while very old (well over 10 yrs old) is written in common language easy to understand - just change out the 32 and 64 MB he has there to 1 and 2 GB.
For a more in depth overview of VM, see the wiki.
You can google for more. Both of these have been written about extensively over the years.
 
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bobtomay, yes, I understand that you need to use some technical terms to give me an answer. It's a matter of how well you explain them in the context of my problem. Zacster just did that in a way that got me to finally understand what you're all telling me is going on. Now your other posts make more sense to me. Thank you for your help, and for posting the links to those terms; I will work on clearing 15 to 17GB.
 

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