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September 06, 2013 3 min read

Naturally, we at Ramjet want you to buy an apple ram upgrade for your machine, but we're also practical people like you and don't want you to waste money on something you don't need. So we'd like to tell you about a nifty little tool you already have in Mountain Lion that can help you figure out whether or not you need to upgrade your memory. It's called ACTIVITY MONITOR and it's already in your utilities. (Go to Apps > Utilities > Activity Monitor, or just search for it in Finder.)

Activity Monitor

Now that you've pulled it up, let's talk about what you're seeing. Activity Monitor tracks five things. Here are the five:

  • 1. CPU Usage – good to know, but you can't replace your CPU
  • 2. System Memory – this is the one we care about. More on this below.
  • 3. Disk Activity – this tracks the read/write speed of your hard drive
  • 4. Disk Usage – you can select your hard drive and find out how much space you have free
  • 5. Network Usage – unless you're an IT manager, you probably don't need to worry about how many data packets you're uploading.

System Memory

So back to #2: System Memory. Click on "System Memory" at the bottom menu bar. You should see a colorful pie chart appear. This allows you, in a clear, visual manner, to understand how much memory you still have available for applications. Simply put, the more green, the more memory or RAM you have available.

activity monitor

Monitoring Usage From Your Apple Dock

Now, if you only have 1-2 apps open and the pie chart is less than 25% green, it's a pretty safe bet you need more memory. We recommend putting the Activity Monitor pie chart in your Apple dock and keeping an eye on it for a few days to get a feel for your memory usage. To do this, go to View menu at the top > Dock Icon > Memory Usage. This will park your pie chart in your dock.

As you open applications, you'll see the green shrink. Try monitoring it for a few days. On a typical day, when you've opened the applications you use most often, take a look at how much green is left in your pie chart. See if you're approaching using all your memory. Again, if it's 25% green or less, that's a good indication that it's time to buy Ramjet upgrade memory (bearing in mind that the ratio is based on the amount of memory you already have installed.) If you are not certain what kind of you RAM you need, here's a helpful link showing you how to find your Mac's Model ID.

It's also good to know that your Mac will keep operating even after your available memory has run out. When this happens (e.g. you have no green or just a sliver of green left,) rather than shut down, your system will start pulling "virtual memory" from the hard drive. This is very slow memory and will make your system crawl. If you find that you're consistently using virtual memory, adding Ramjet upgrade memory will substantially improve the performance of your Mac system.

If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at (888) RAM-JET1 or send us an e-mail at support@ramjet.com.