Out of memory errors in Identify

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Platform (Android, iOS, Website): Windows

App version number, if a mobile app issue (shown under Settings):

Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) : chrome



I’m using identify to annotate life stage in cicadas. I use keyboard shortcuts. I start with the last observation and continue to the first (because the left arrow is closer than the right). Note per_page is 100. It generally works ok, but after annotating half or so, it often crashes with the above error. It has happened probably 10 times in the last 3 days. Don’t know the amount of memory on my machine off the top of my head, but it’s pretty good.

This is most likely not an iNat issue, but rather has to do with the amount of RAM you have available for your browser. If I’m right, iNat can try to lower its memory consumption, but there’s no way to “fix” this problem as you can always do more things and run out of memory.

Some tips, because I was recently dealing with Windows/browser OOM issues:

  • close other applications you have running. All of your applications share the same RAM.
    • if you have any applications that automatically run on startup (Spotify, Skype are both common offenders) disable that feature.
  • close other tabs you have open in Chrome. (Each Chrome tab is its own process, and they all consume a ton of memory)
  • restart your computer. This cleans out your RAM and allows memory to be reallocated.
    • if this doesn’t seem to be helping, try restarting and also not opening any extra applications. It’s a pain in the butt, but it got me through a few months of working from home until I got a new computer…
  • get more RAM. Your computer may have unused slots for additional memory, or it may be using smaller-than-possible RAM cards, or those cards may be damaged over time.
  • upgrade to a newer operating system. I attribute my “new computer solved my memory problems” solution above to the fact that I went from Windows 8.1 (very leaky memory) to Windows 10 (less leaky).
  • change to a more efficient browser than Chrome. I don’t have any strong recommendations because this didn’t help in my case, but I heard Opera was supposed to be better about memory allocation.

This also described my old computer, and it was incredibly frustrating. Most applications and websites assume you’re regularly upgrading all of your hardware, so over time they make themselves bigger and bigger and suddenly you realize your phone is constantly crashing or you can’t open both email and zoom on your laptop without getting a bluescreen, and you’ve checked and nothing’s broken so what could possibly be the problem?


Maybe you are using 32bit Chrome. You may switch to the 64bit version, which can utilize much more memory.

it might be helpful to know how much memory you have. you can go to Windows Explorer, find your PC, and right click and view the properties to see details of your machine.

i opened up task manager (make sure you look at more details), and then just navigated through the identify page just to see what was happening. what i see is that each observation i look at seems to increase total memory load, each new set of 100 increases it, and there are only occasional small decreases in memory load. so that page can quickly start to suck up a lot of memory if you’re going through hundreds at a time.

so this seems to be a classic case of either a memory leak or memory bloat. these kinds of problems are sometimes difficult to troubleshoot and fix. so, to me, it does seem like a system problem, but i don’t know how easily it can be resolved.

i notice that the identify page doesn’t seem to load the next page by actually loading a new page. instead, the same page just loads new information and replaces the information on the existing page with the new loaded data.

that said, if i actually refresh the page (using the browser’s refresh button), that seems to clear the memory usage back to a reasonable level. so refreshing occasionally may provide a way to mitigate the issue for now.


My memory is 16 GB.

that should be more than enough memory for a page like that. so i would just wait for iNat staff to troubleshoot the memory leak / bloat, and in the meantime, just refresh your identify page every once in a while…

Did you happen to be using Dragon Naturally Speaking at the time? Apparently, that can lead to memory issues:

“NaturallySpeaking assistants will grab lots of memory. It grabs even more when Natural Languages applications run, and then your word processor has its own memory greed. If there’s not enough RAM for everybody, everything slows down.

So shut down programs that you aren’t using. Plan your activities so that you don’t have to run NaturallySpeaking, Word, and Internet Explorer all at the same time.”

no I wasn’t.

Dan, it would help us track down memory issues if you included really specific information about exactly how you use the Identify page. For example:

  • do you pick and choose or grind through everything?

  • do you mark all as reviewed?

  • do you click on “View more” or do you use page-based navigation?

A screen capture video of you going through a few pages in normal fashion would be really insightful, if you want to send one to help@inaturalist.org. But details like that are often necessary to diagnose issues.


I have a macbook pro and 16GB ram, and have the same problem with memory bloat and pages stopping to load and a spinning circle. I was able to free up RAM and now the pages load quickly and completely. In my case I have an app called “clean my mac” which shows the amount of free RAM and click “free up ram” to accomplish this.


apple macbook pro 16gb, os10.13.16, safari browser

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Welcome to the Forum. I am on a Mac, too. That is helpful to know… thanks.

although you certainly could use something to clear up RAM, i suppose, simply occasionally refreshing the Identify screen in your browser should be enough to clear up the possible memory problems on this page.

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If I understand the other conversations that have sprung up about this correctly, this will solve the first of potentially two problems–that of the Identify page in particular consuming more memory than is good. But if you have other issues with your memory consumption that may not be sufficient. Certainly should be the first thing you try though!

Platform (Android, iOS, Website): Website
Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) : Chrome 115.0.5790.170 (Official Build) (64-bit)
URLs (aka web addresses) of any relevant observations or pages: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=needs_id%2Cresearch&page=3&order=asc&taxon_id=47743&place_id=6903&without_term_id=1

Description of problem (please provide a set of steps we can use to replicate the issue, and make as many as you need.):

Step 1: Go through the observation modals one by one (I usually add life stage annotations and use arrow keys, but that does not seem to matter).

Step 2: Go to the next page.

Step 3: Repeat 5–10 times.

Example (based on Chrome Task Manager): I started at 99,100K memory footprint. After one page it was 277,572K. After five pages it was 929,164K (i.e. nearly 1 GB). Usually, the memory usage will go up to 1–2 GB before I have to reload (the memory footprint will stay the same for a few seconds until the GC kicks in). I would expect most of the memory usage to reset when navigating to a new page. Especially as, when you do add a life stage annotation to an observation, the observation will no longer be on any page after the pagination event.

I tried debugging a bit and recorded a heap timeline in Chrome DevTools but the minification of the code makes it difficult to untangle.

see https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/out-of-memory-errors-in-identify/14774.

Three years later so I don’t know if is the same memory error, but for me the error occurs while

  • going through all observations on the page by clicking the “next” button (or pressing the right arrow key),
  • only marking a few observations as reviewed, and
  • usually clicking “View more” or “Skip to next page” (though I feel like the page-based navigation) doesn’t help.

I had not realized that this topic was also specifically about life stages.

it’s the same thing. you’re basically saying the same thing i said back in the day:

Looking again at the heap capture most of the allocations seem to come from the _.cloneDeep calls in observationsReducer but I do not know if that is actually the memory that is leaking. If I capture the same heap in Firefox the Dominators view seems to indicate that the older versions of the state are stilled referenced through the __reactInternalInstance$... fields on DOM elements listed as being a “Preserved wrapper”.