How To Optimize XProtect High Memory Usage on macOS Sonoma 14

How To Optimize XProtect High Memory Usage on macOS Sonoma Error

XProtect, Mac’s built-in antivirus tool, uses signature-based malware detection to spot and remove potential threats. It typically doesn’t require much processing power. However, I recently noticed that XprotectService was making my Mac lag. As I suspected, it turned out to be a widespread update issue. Here are the most effective ways to cut the high memory usage of XProtect on macOS Sonoma.

How To Reduce the Memory Usage of XProtect on macOS Sonoma

Turn off your Mac if XProtect has an unusually high memory usage on macOS Sonoma. A quick reboot could reset any minor glitches and software bugs that are causing your built-in anti-malware system to work overtime. Also, check for macOS updates. XProtect might run more efficiently on recent major or minor releases.

Here are other troubleshooting steps to help you stop XProtect from using too much memory:

1. Deselect Installed Security Responses

Time needed: 5 minutes

Generally, you should enable XProtect 24/7 since it’s your first line of defense against malware infections. Your Mac is vulnerable to viruses without it. However, some issues might require you to disable it temporarily, e.g., incorrectly blocked networks, app incompatibilities, or high memory usage. Here’s where you’ll find XProtect in System Settings:

  1. Click the Apple menu icon > System Settings > General.

    Opening the Software Update Section in Mac's General System Settings

  2. Open Software Update and click the information icon (i) beside Automatic Updates.

    Clicking the More Information Icon on Automatic Updates Mac Settings

  3. Toggle off the button for Install Security Responses and system files.

    Clicking the Toggle off Button for Security Updates

Note icon NOTE
Avoid downloading files or visiting unsecured websites while XProtect is disabled.

2. Kill XProtectRemediatorSheepSwap on Activity Monitor

If XProtect still runs in your background even after you disable it, kill it through Activity Monitor. You can also check how much memory it’s consuming.

  1. Open Launchpad > Activity Monitor, which you’ll find in the other folder.
  2. Go to the CPU or Memory section and type XprotectService or XProtectRemediatorSheepSwap in the search bar.
    Searching for the XProtect Process on Activity Monitor
    Image Credits: Apple
  3. Select the corresponding process and click the stop icon (X) at the top of the window.
    Terminating the XProtect Process on Activity Monitor
Note icon NOTE
XProtect’s process name might change with macOS updates. If neither XprotectService nor XProtectRemediatorSheepSwap appears on Activity Monitor, sift through all the active processes under X.

3. Factory Reset Your Mac

Try resetting your Mac back to its factory settings. It’s a quick way to revert any hidden function or feature that’s making XProtect use so much memory. Just note that you’ll lose all your data afterward.

  1. Click the Apple menu icon > System Settings > General > Transfer or Reset.
    Opening the Transfer or Reset Option on Mac Settings
  2. Select Erase All Content and Settings, then input your Mac’s password.
    Clicking the Erase All Content and Settings on Mac

4. Opt for an Alternative to XProtect

Don’t leave XProtect disabled for too long. Although you can turn it off while troubleshooting, surfing the web unprotected poses several security issues. Remember: hacking attacks could stem from even seemingly harmless everyday tasks.

But if you decide to turn off XProtect for extended periods, install a reliable Mac antivirus tool to take its place. Some good options include:

  • Intego Mac Internet Security: Intego offers a sophisticated anti-malware system specifically made for Apple’s unique operating systems. It’s an excellent alternative to XProtect. You can even choose between the different security plans it offers Mac users—you’re not limited to just one paid tier.
  • Norton: Norton is one of the longest-standing antivirus brands on the market. Its robust system comes with all the bells and whistles, from standard malware detection to dark web monitoring protection. Just note that it’s relatively expensive. See if you can find any promos, discounts, or free trials before going for an annual plan.
  • McAfee: McAfee has been around for nearly four decades now. It secured and maintained its large market share by providing a simple, streamlined system with intuitive features. The only downside is it isn’t tailored for macOS devices. Of course, it’s still worth installing McAfee on Macs, but you should configure its settings appropriately.
  • Bitdefender: Bitdefender is a lightweight antivirus tool you can run alongside as many apps as you want. Its background processes are barely noticeable. What’s more is that it has a fast, secure VPN that can maintain a stable connection for several hours.

Call Apple Support if the high memory usage of XProtect makes your Mac unusable—Apple’s technicians might have to check for underlying software or hardware damage. Just copy your files on Time Machine or any reliable backup software before sending your Mac for repairs. Otherwise, you won’t be able to recover them afterward.

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