really strange ram issues


im having some really weird issues with my ram just kinda being used up. i look at the activity monitor and the free memory keeps going down and down while the inactive and used goes up. im running 1 gig in my powerbook g4 1.0 ghz on 10.4. i didnt notice this while i was running 10.3 of course i may have just not paid any attention. i first noticed this when i ram photshop and closed it and the free ram didnt go back up it just kinda stayed at what it was while running pshop. ive tried formatting and reinstalling the os already as well as many apps. if anyone has any info they can give me that would be great. thanks in advance.
Can't you see in activity monitor which app is gobbling up the memory? Check again, I've had that problem on a PowerBook with an app. It was caused by the trackpad. Easily fixed though.
it looks like window server keeps going up and down. i would take a screenshot but im not sure how under os x.
Did you ever use OS 9? I'm asking because it sounds like you're likening UNIX's "Free Memory" to OS 9's "Free Memory," but the two are very, very different.

You always have swap files in UNIX, even if you've got 8 billion megs of RAM. "Free Memory" in Mac OS X/UNIX does not indicate the amount of RAM that is really free for use. "Inactive Memory" in addition to "Free Memory" is roughly the amount of RAM available for new use. Likewise, "Used Memory" does not indicate the amount of RAM currently unavailable for use, or actively being used up.

If you run "top" in the Terminal, you can add up the wired and active RAM amounts next to "PhysMem" and the "inactive" and "free" RAM amounts reported and it should roughly equal the total amount of RAM you have in your system.

If you want an indication of how much RAM you're using, you can roughly gauge this by watching the "active" and "inactive" RAM amounts in "top." "Active" combined with "wired" would be something similar to "Used Memory," and "inactive" combined with "free" would be something similar to "Free Memory."

You can also gauge memory usage by gauging your swap file usage, or "pageouts" in top as well. "Pageins" are the total number of pages read into memory, and "pageouts" are the total number of pages written to disk. If "pageouts" seems high (20,000 or more, roughly, give or take, after running 24/7 for a month), you may want to consider adding more RAM, or using less programs simultaneously.
I'm experiencing this EXACT problem. I think that I may have a runaway app or possibly some kind of memory leak. I never noticed it until after installing 10.4.5 also.

I tried logging in as different users and the problem is persistent between them, eliminating one of my many login items. The real kicker is the fact that I don't even have to login for this problem to present itself. Example: I turn on my computer and walk away for an hour, the screen sits at the login window. After returning I login for the very first time after a reboot, check activity monitor, and 99% of my RAM is already "Used". Primarily filled with 1.3GB of "Inactive" RAM. I'd really love to know what it could be filled with since I never even logged in!!

I'm contemplating doing a fresh install of the OS, but am saving this as a last resort.

Here's a small pic of Activity Monitor, having only run Activity Monitor, FireFox, and Mail:
again as EL said, the unix terms of memory are very missleading. as long as things don't seem slugish, all is well for your memory. the only real numbers to look at are the page in/outs. if the page outs are really high, then the mac doesn't have enough ram for what you are doing. because your page out is only 307, which is very small, i'd say you have enough ram for what you are doing. if it gets over 3000, time to not have so many open apps. if it gets over 7500, then its time to up the ram.
Yes. You are interpreting the free/active/inactive memory completely wrong. See the above post by myself for a more thorough explanation.

For one, look at your "Inactive" memory: you've got 1.32GB of it, which is a ton. "Inactive" memory, in a nutshell, is memory that was in use at some point by some application, but the application has either been quit or the memory is no longer needed anymore... UNIX is smart, and thinks, "Well, just because they quit the application doesn't mean they won't use it again soon -- I'll just keep that stuff in memory, and if they use the application again, it'll already be there and relaunch will be fast... but if they don't use that same application again and some other application needs that memory, it's free to use it just like memory that hasn't been used at all."

Don't liken "free" memory as the only memory available for use. Like sinclair_tm said, look at your page ins/outs: if your pageouts are high (meaning you're running out of physical memory for use and portions of memory must be swapped to disk to free up physical memory), then it's likely you need more memory. If your pageouts are relatively low, like around or under 10,000 (like yours definitely are), then you're just fine.
The problem is that it IS sluggish. If I want to play Halo or Doom III I basically have to reboot before launching them, otherwise they are basically unplayable.

ElDiablo, why would UNIX cache 1.3GB of "Inactive" memory if 0 applications were ever opened on the current session(other than Activity Monitor)? You did read where I said that the RAM will fill up with Inactive even after a fresh reboot and having never logged in right?

I have a second harddrive in this machine, which I just updated to 10.4.6. I keep Mac OS X on this volume simply as a fall back if the main HD fails. I DO NOT have the same RAM caching problem when starting up from this volume. Only on my main HD.
Ok, now things get weirder.... I left my machine on overnight the other day after getting into Cocktail and running all scripts. I noticed that Inactive RAM when down tremendously. I had over 1GB of free RAM. I started to think that the drive was possibly being indexed and because of my frequent reboots, this was taking a very long time to complete... however, when finally rebooting after letting the machine run for two days the RAM once again filled up to 99% without any apps being opened.

So I once again open up Cocktail and selected disks. I didn't even have to do anything, after the gear finished spinning under Journaling and displayed the disk info I noticed immediately that the Inactive RAM in Activity Monitor dropped tremendously. I really wish I knew what was going on, as this problem only presents itself when booting from my main HD and not my backup HD(both boot into 10.4.6).
I've had the same problem since I think 10.4.4 but it might have been .5. Inactive Ram never got this high before. I've only had Tiger on this G4. I'm curious, do you use Path Finder? I don't know for sure because 10.4.4 and Path Finder 4 I started using at the same time when the problem started. But I've rebooted without Path Finder starting and get the same problem, so... My computer doesn't really feel sluggish too much. I have 1.5 Gigs but the fact that before 10.4.4 the Inactive Ram never got this high is what worries me.
I have never used Path Finder, but I did have a bunch of System level stuff installed including Little Snitch, Flip4Mac, Stuffit Archiver, Virex, TechTool, and DiskWarrior.

As I stated above, running the cron scripts with Cocktail did provide with a decent improvement. However I started getting alot of kernel panics from various programs when doing intense stuff like having Stuffit compress and encrypt 2GB+ files and playing some games. So I decieded to try an Archive and Install of a fresh copy of 10.4, then updated to 10.4.6 and everything is so far so good. I don't have the Inactive RAM problem anymore and no bad crashes either. ::knocks on wood::