Why do people buy fast and powerful devices and then insist on obsessing over how many apps are open? I had to address this because the amount of ignorance when it comes to how RAM actually works and how our computers and devices utilize it is astounding. The existence of task killers, memory optimizers, and open app widgets is owed in part to user FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). Manufacturers include widgets to monitor open apps and memory in response to all this FUD and snake oil salesmen push task killers to profit from it. The operating systems running on our mobile devices, handle RAM usage very differently than what older operating systems did on desktop computers but people seem to think they are the same. If people really understood the way RAM is actually managed on our devices they would understand why all the memory handling tweaks to speed things up don’t matter.
The Task Killer Debate.
Task managers are fine; 3rd party task killers are very bad. For a person that actually understands what they are doing, a tool that easily lets them end certain tasks is fine. Every operating system has a tool that allows for it, including Android. It’s good for debugging, useful for developers and sometimes for power users. Everyone else seems to suffer from the mistaken impression that installing a third party task killer and using it to just obliterate everything in memory will speed things up. They fall for the market or app store descriptions falls claims. They don’t seem to understand that killing running services breaks things if they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t understand that in many cases trying to kill services with a task killer app will just result in the service reloading immediately. They don’t get the concept that what is in RAM is there because they need it and it runs faster from ram than from disk.
What is RAM Anyway?
RAM is short for “Random Access Memory”. It is the storage used to hold data that the CPU needs to be able to access quickly. It is re-writable, extremely fast, and used differently because it is much faster than traditional storage like your hard disk. RAM has one purpose, and one purpose only. It reads from and writes to your storage. Solid-state drives, spinning disk platter SATA hard drives, and other storage are much slower than RAM. RAM is also cheap.
Empty RAM is Wasted RAM.
Operating systems like Android, like Mac OS, Ubuntu and even Windows to a degree use all the RAM they can. Believe it or not that is exactly what they should do. System files are loaded and the rest is for running apps. It will fill up until the OS says to stop. Apps being used and stay there for the next use unless they need closing to free space for something else. As you use the device it gets better at keeping the right apps ready to go. Loading an app from your hard drive or storage takes much longer than loading it from RAM. It is also a bigger drain on the battery compulsively removing running or stored apps from ram is worse than loading it from RAM. It will slow your device down and drain the battery faster. If you want to remove something so bad uninstall that third party task killer and chill.
If you are thirsty are you going to get a beverage out of your refrigerator, pour one sip, put it back and then get it out again to poor the next sip or are you going to just fill your cup with the amount you want? Think of the refrigerator as your hard drive or storage and the cup as your RAM.
Loading an app into RAM once, and having it there to open instantly is much quicker than loading it every time you want to use it from storage. Creating empty ram is just wasting space. If the space is needed for something else the operating closes something to load the new item. Stuff cached in RAM is just sitting there. It isn’t actually running or using any CPU cycles. It is just ready to get pulled up on the screen as fast without using extra battery power needed to start it up from disk all over again.
Memory Monitoring Widgets are Just Eye Candy.
Modern hardware and software has greatly improved over recent years. Operating systems are much better at handling RAM and devices have much more memory than they used to. When Android was new a task killer might have helped because devices didn’t have enough ram and apps didn’t exit gracefully when the space was needed. Operating systems weren’t very good at managing what was in RAM and apps weren’t developed to play well with others. This just isn’t the case anymore and people are embracing old habits that are only applicable to outdated technology. OEM’s only include memory monitoring apps that squawk when you have a lot of processes in RAM because of ignorance and user FUD.