RAM Optimizer for Mac: Memory Diag

Written by BradzTech on Aug 27, 2014

Is your Mac performing more slowly than it usually does? Do you notice that restarting your computer restores its original speed? You're likely facing an issue involving your computer's random access memory. You could get used to restarting your computer all the time, but fear not, there's a better way. With the free app Memory Diag from Rocky Sand Studio, you can easily manage your RAM and keep its usage from getting out of hand.

How RAM Works

All computers have a few vital components to be operational. One of these is random access memory. Until you boot up the computer, the RAM does not contain anything. As the computer starts up, it loads vital operating system files into the RAM. From there, each new process that's fired up will begin to load its respective data into RAM so that it can be randomly accessed (hence RAM). This information has to be moved to RAM in order to be easily accessible by the processor. As programs continue to open, the amount of used RAM continues to increase. Typically, heftier programs that require more processing power, like photo and video processing apps, consume more RAM that lightweight apps do. However, this is not always the case; having many tabs open in a web browser, for example, can also bump up your memory usage. Once the RAM becomes completely full, it starts getting paged out to swap memory. In other words, the contents of the memory are forcibly moved to the hard drive. Since hard drive swap is much slower than physical RAM, so you'll quickly notice a major performance decrease. While closing and reopening programs can help temporarily, it's rarely sufficient to free up enough RAM to disable swapping for an extended time. The only option left is to restart the computer, which clears the RAM.

Importance of a RAM Optimizer

In most cases, periodically restarting the computer is far from optimal. This is how a RAM optimizer is useful. There a variety of options when it comes to a RAM optimizer, but most are like Memory Diag, a background utility app that sits in your menubar. Opening the app's interface gives you a snapshot of your RAM usage and a way to "optimize", "clean", or "purge" your memory. The wording depends on the app, but it all functions similarly. The app will temporarily completely fill your RAM up. This forces any data in memory that is not needed to be removed. The optimizer's wasted RAM is then removed. The result of this process: your memory usage should decrease and only data that still needs be in memory is still existent. The effectiveness of this cleaning process depends on a number of things. Good reasons to do it include when your RAM is nearly full, after you close an intensive app, or before you open an intensive app.

Setting Up Memory Diag

It's difficult to have trouble installing Memory Diag. Simply visit its Mac App Store page and initiate the free download as you would any other app.  At only 4.4 MB, the download of this RAM optimizer won't take long, nor will it consume much hard drive space. Next, open up the app. After unchecking the Show at Launch box in the lower-left corner of the Thank you for downloading window, you can close the window. [caption id="attachment_698" align="alignright" width="200" class="img50r"]The settings menu in Memory Diag. Check Open at Login in this menu that appears after clicking the main interface's three-line icon.[/caption] The Memory Diag icon should now be present with your other icons in the right-hand area of the menu bar. Clicking it opens the primary interface. Click the three-line icon in the upper-left corner of the interface and check Open at Login from the menu so that it automatically opens when you start up your computer, otherwise you must start it manually. Don't worry about it slowing down your Mac, since it's a rather lightweight app. The app is now effectively installed.

Utilizing Memory Diag

[caption id="attachment_699" align="alignleft" width="286" class="img100s"]The Memory Diag extra interface. Click the main interface's i button to bring up this extra information.[/caption] Even before you get to its RAM optimization, Memory Diag provides some helpful tools to monitor your RAM. Its interface primarily consists of a donut chart describing the contents of your RAM. The main thing to look at is the amount of light-grey free memory, versus the amount of used memory, signified by all the other colors. The menubar icon also portrays this statistic as a black bar on a small chip icon. Memory Diag's interface additionally shows apps that are consuming significantly large amounts of memory, allowing you to identify memory-intensive apps. Clicking the i button brings up further information, including the amount of installed RAM, as well as the amount of swap used, which is best kept at zero. Click the big Optimize button in the interface initiates the cleaning process. You'll notice that the aforementioned optimization process occurs; the RAM will fill up for just a second. This leaves a lower amount of used memory on the donut chart interface, as it forces everything in the memory that is no longer useful to be purged. Once again, purging RAM works best when it's fairly full (check the Memory Diag icon) or after closing an intensive program. If neither of these conditions apply, performance might not change much. [caption id="attachment_700" align="alignnone" width="572"]A comparsion of the interface before and after optimization. The main Memory Diag interface, before (left) and after (right) RAM optimization.[/caption] Compressed memory, a new feature as of OS X Mavericks, also plays a role in Memory Diag. As you use the RAM optimizer, it encourages the operating system to compress data in memory that is not actively being used but cannot be purged. The Pressure meter in the Memory Diag's interface represents the level of memory compression. If it gets too high, the RAM optimizer will prevent you from further cleaning the overcrowded RAM. If you get to this point often, you should definitely consider a RAM upgrade.

I recommend giving Memory Diag a shot. It's a rather lightweight app that uses a barely noticeable amount of your Mac's resources. Conversely, the speed payoff of using a RAM optimizer is very noticeable. I've also tried Memory Clean and Memory Booster. I've found that Memory Diag's optimization process has no negative effect on performance, unlike these two apps. Out of personal preference, I favor Memory Diag's interface. Either way, you should definitely try out a RAM optimizer like Memory Diag; you may be surprised by the performance improvement.

About BradzTech

Welcome! I'm BradzTech, a Computer Science student at Rochester Institute of Technology. I am passionate about computers and analyzing the latest happenings in the rapidly developing modern field of technology, specifically, using it to help people. I share my thoughts on Twitter and, occasionally, here on my blog. Learn more about me.