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FreeMemory 1.6.2 OS X memory retrieval utility review

Sections: Mac Software, Reviews, System Utilities

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Provides: System memory retrieval and monitoring
Developer: Rocky Sand Studio
System Requirements: Intel Mac running OS X 10.6 or later (10.7 or later for FreeMemory Extras upgrade), 64-bit processor
Price: Free (FreeMemory Extras available for $0.99)
Availability: Out now

I get about a week of uptime after a fresh restart with my 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook before things start slowing down objectionably and the dreaded spinning beachball shows up all too frequently. I have 4 GB of RAM, which seemed ample when I installed it in 2009, but I’ve reluctantly become convinced it’s not enough for the sort of use I give the computer. On the other hand, I’m resisting spending money to upgrade a machine well into its 4th year of service and with a hard drive that’s filling up.

Consequently, I was interested to hear about Rocky Sand Studio’s FreeMemory utility, that is claimed to increase your Mac’s free memory with a simple click, and monitor memory usage in your menubar.

FreeMemory is available for free for both OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and OS X 10.7 Lion. If you’re using Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, you can add FreeMemory Extras for 99 cents, which enhances the app with show/hide dock icon, customizable menubar, and a detachable 3D pie chart. It also makes it possible to hide the dock icon with a simple click in Extras Settings and configure your FreeMemory menubar the way you like it. You can free up space in your menubar by only displaying an icon, a small scale 2D piechart, a shortened text, or even nothing at all. On the other hand, if you prefer you can display fully detailed information about current memory usage.

However, I’m a Snow Leopard holdout, and due to an Apple Mac App Store restriction (say the developers), FreeMemory Extras upgrade purchases are only supported for Lion, so I’m limited to the basic free version. However, Making things a little more complicated, all of the FreeMemory Extras features are available in a $.99 standalone FreeMemory Pro app with no upgrading required, and it does support Snow Leopard.

I thought the idea behind the Mac App Store was to make things simpler.

There is also a developer mode that enables you to use purge command to free up memory, instead of FreeMemory’s own algorithm. However, you must have purge installed to be able to use this feature, which is the part of XCode Developer Tool.

My main interest was whether FreeMemory really would work to push back necessary restarts to clear the memory heap, for which the free version would suffice. So did it?

Yes and no.

As I noted, after a week’s uptime, I’m scraping the bottom of the memory barrel, which FreeMemory confirms, with the live free memory monitor tracking into the single-digits at times.

As you can see from the befrore (above) and after (below) screenshots of the user interface you get in the free version, running the FreeMemory utility does free up some memory, and does improve performance. But the effect is very temporary, and after an hour or so I find I’m running out of memory again.

A shortcoming of the FreeMemory utility is that it takes several minutes to execute, during which computer performance gets really slow. However, even a temporary improvement in memory constipation can be useful at times, so I think I’ll keep FreeMemory around, but I don’t think I’ll bother with the Pro version. I’m giving FreeMemory (basic free version) a 2 out of 5 rating based on my experience, but your mileage may vary.

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