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Mavericks - Compressed Memory

October 14, 2013 2 min read

One of the new features Apple is introducing on OS X Mavericks is called Compressed Memory. For users who have older Macs and are experiencing an Apple RAM upgrade limit to your machine, the new Compressed Memory feature should be very exciting. While your machine will always run faster and better with more physical memory added, Compressed Memory brings a new way to help you get the best out of your machine when you've hit a RAM upgrade limit.

What is Compressed Memory?

When your machine approaches it's maximum memory capacity, Mavericks will start compressing data from inactive apps and files to free up more memory. This feature is used alongside Virtual Memory, which stores data on your hard drive when you are running at maximum memory capacity – but unlike Virtual Memory, which stores objects at full size, Apple claims Compressed Memory will reduce segment size by more than 50%, requiring less space on the drive. Compressed Memory is also expected to be very fast, compressing and decompressing a page of memory in millionths of a second, faster than traditional read and write speeds to a hard drive.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Compressed memory offers less wear and tear on your hard drive, which will extend the drive's lifespan; less hard drive usage which will keep your system running cooler, which is better for all components; and on a laptop, less hard drive use and a cooler system (less fan activity) also means greater battery life. Compressed Memory is looking to be a great feature, and Apple has measured Mavericks to respond 1.4 times faster than Mountain Lion under load and even wake faster from standby. More physical memory is still always going to be better and faster than relying on Compressed Memory and Virtual Memory, but for those 2008 and 2009 MacBook Air users who are unfortunately limited to 2GB of memory, Compressed Memory should encourage you that Mavericks may actually run more smoothly than Mountain Lion on your machine.

Read on to find out about recommendations for free hard drive space before upgrading.