What Types of Memory Your Mac Has

One may say that in order to evaluate the performance of Apple desktop and laptop computers user has to look through macOS’s Activity Monitor as it shows each and every process and the system condition. However, for the most part, non-tech-savvy users will get more questions than answers because to get a full picture of the system work one should know the terminology and principles of its work. One of the main reason for such confusion is that usually system distinguished memory in a different way rather than “used” and “free.” The main categories are free, wired, active, inactive, page ins, page outs. And here you will find out everything about them.

General information

It is essential to understand that macOS tends to move the RAM temporarily in case of emergency: when the memory-consuming task has not enough resource, and the information about it goes to the hard drive for some time. That is one of the main reasons for slowdowns that sometimes occur on Macs.

Free memory

As the name suggests, this type of RAM is the one that remains free, and the system can use it when needed.

Wired memory

This memory is never touched by macOS as it contains critical information about the system, kernel, and essential app components. It remains in the same place and is never replaced or moved to the hard drive. The amount of this memory is not fixed in all Apple devices and depends on the overall memory that a certain computer has.

Active memory

This is a memory that is used at the moment by the system along with the launched apps and processes. Check out the number of opened apps, and if the level of active memory is too high, it would be advisable to quit unnecessary apps to prevent freezes and slowdowns.

Inactive memory

The most important and frequently used apps receive a certain amount of space in your memory, so when you quit it and then decide to open again, the time of launching will be shortened greatly – in general it will launch three times faster.

Page ins

Every time you use your Mac some information is moved to RAM to fasten its performance.

How to use this information?

With the knowledge of these memory peculiarities, the user may easily figure out if whether the device requires an upgrade. And it is not necessary to check the total amount of the memory to decide on a future update. Much more important information is the amount of free and inactive memory to evaluate the productivity of the device. If the sum of these two indexes is always too low, then it is a warning sign: that means that almost all your memory is captured by wired and active memory and almost nothing is left for additional tasks. As a result, the system will remove some space on the hard drive and slow down work of the computer.

And check the page ins/outs – if the system has to rewrite too much information to the hard drive, be ready to freezes – so it is time for an upgrade of your hardware.