Thursday, September 2, 2010

Task Killers and Memory Management

There are a lot of "task killers" and "memory management" tools available on the Android Market. The interesting thing about these "tools" is that they aren't particularly useful considering that Android (being Linux based) is extremely good at managing system resources.

Many folks think that because there is very little RAM available at any given time that too much is being used. "If only I could free up some RAM, my phone would be less sluggish." While this is a common belief, it's not supported by the facts.

Android allocates RAM (and other system resources) to active processes in much the same way as Linux. For example, suppose you are running a Linux system with 2gb of RAM. Assuming your distro is well designed, Linux will most likely decide to cache most of that 2gb and allocate it to active system processes. In effect, your system will have optimized its processes, allocating as much memory as possible to any given process. By opting to micromanage your systems memory, you are, in fact, taking memory away from active processes that would otherwise benefit from the extra resources. The same is true of your android phone.

With a stock HTC Hero for Sprint, the active OS is managing your memory. If, on top of this, you add some "tool" that allows micromanagement of active processes and system resources, what you are doing is competing with your system's configuration. In essence, you're playing back-seat-driver... and no one likes a back-seat-driver.

That being said, there are a number of custom ROMs in the community that come preloaded with tools that allow the root user to reconfigure the system's resource allocation tables. This is a totally different thing than what has been described above. In this case, the root user is given the opportunity to hook directly into the ROM and make adjustments at the most basic level... to actually drive.

Bottom line don't mess with system resources, trust the droid.

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