How Much RAM Does Your Dedicated Server Need?

RAM Memory
Before your site is alive and working you cannot be sure what is the minimum of RAM you need, but you must start somewhere, so lets try to find the starting point.

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How much RAM do I need for my dedicated server? This question pop ups often in various webmaster forums by webmasters starting a new website or moving an existing one from the shared hosting account to the virtual private server or dedicated server. It is hard to give straight answer because there are too many factors to take into account - so it is very case specific. The amount of RAM that you need is directly tied to what you are planning to host. As a general rule of thumb, you can never have too much RAM, but you can certainly have not enough RAM. It is recommended to monitor processes to see which consume too much memory and to optimize every part of your setup for better performance. Before your site is alive and working, it's tough to make a determination about the minimum amount of RAM you need - but you must start somewhere, so let's check some factors that will give you a good "jumping off point":

  1. Traffic - The number of hits, page views and unique visits are the main variable to take into account. Obviously, if there is going to be a lot of traffic through your website, you'll need more RAM; inversely, less traffic requires less RAM.
  2. Operating system - To run Windows Server you'll need at least 512MB RAM, with recommended 1GB for Windows Server 2003 and recommended 2GB for Windows Server 2008. For Linux based server, 64MB RAM will be enough, or even less depending on a choice of a distro.
  3. Static or dynamic site? Scripts and databases are memory hogs. If you use PHP or other scripting language and SQL databases then you need more RAM. How you use them and the size and the number of the databases will largely influence amount of RAM needed for site to function.
  4. Content management systems - usage of Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla and other CMSs will result in need for more RAM. There might be slight differences in memory usage between various CMSs, but the main factor here is how many and which additional plugins/modules are installed and used. The other important factor is the number of logged in/authenticated users in any given time - their hits consume much more memory than those of anonymous users.
  5. Do you use control panel? Control panels can be resource hog too, some of them less some of them more. Check this control panels comparison table for more info.
  6. What other applications run on the server - email clients, antivirus, firewall, email spam protection will also make a difference in the amount of RAM you require.
  7. Caching - if a large part of your site is set to be cached by proxy servers and browsers - that will significantly improve performance and decrease ram usage. Some static content that doesn't change too often should be always cached. (such as images, css, and js). On Apache server you can use .htaccess to control caching.

So, with all this in mind lets start a "guessing game", how much RAM do I need?

Setup example:

  1. Linux OS
  2. Apache web server
  3. SQL database like MySQL or PostgreSQL
  4. Scripting Language like PHP
  5. Content management system like Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress
  6. Firewall
  7. Antivirus software like ClamAV
  8. Email server and web mail client like Open Webmail or Squirrelmail
  9. FTP server with SSH supported like Proftpd
  10. "Light" control panel like Webmin or DirectAdmin

If you have no traffic or very low traffic on a setup like this, you'll probably be fine with 512MB RAM.
If you have 200 000 monthly visits and 500 000 page views you'll need at least 1GB RAM.
If you have more than 1 000 000 monthly visits and more than 2 000 000 page views you'll need to upgrade to 4GB or more.

Take this advice only as a starting point; as I already said this was a "guessing game". The actual amount of memory that will be required by your website will vary on your site setup, optimization of every piece of software on your server and number of logged in users. If you plan to have more than one site on a server, things will get even more complicated. Feel free to post question in comments about estimated RAM consumption for any particular setup and we will try to answer it.

Some more tips:

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Kreso (not verified):

Drupal site - how much RAM?

I have drupal site hosted at vps with 256 mb RAM. And I’m not satisfied with speed – loading time. I am thinking about upgrading to next plan with 512 Ram. What do you think, will it solve my worries?

VirtualMaster (not verified):

Same website with more RAM = faster website

It is hard to tell, but it definitely should enhance performance. Generally speaking: same website with more RAM = faster website. What is the content of your website, how many scripts do you use? What processor do you use?

Los Angeles Locksmith (not verified):

If there's more RAM than

If there's more RAM than there's more room :)

Saint924 (not verified):

My homebuilt server. Any feedback will help a bunch.

Im building a Home dedicated server using windows 64 bit OS. Im building it mostly as a project however it will be going to use.. my hopes are to build a server that can host as many websites, Ventrilo's (voice servers) and "Gaming servers" as possible. Below is the servers specs and underneath that shows the actual models in case you are interested in reading further into them. Please any feed back would help.. I posted on other websites but no response.. and yes this post is serious. My question for that matter is if a server with the below specs will be stable.. and about how much can I host.. I don't need a exact answer, just tell if it can host a lot or little.. and whether its enough to be worth the build. Also any idea's will help. Thank you.

MOTHER BOARD(Has onboard Video card ):
ASUS Z8PE-D18(ASMB4-IKVM) Dual LGA 1366 Intel 5520 SSI EEB 3.61 Dual Intel Xeon 5500 series Server Motherboard

CPU (I have two CPU's supported):
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 Nehalem 2.4GHz Quad-core Server CPU. (L2 cache 4 x 256kb, L3 cache 8 MB)

RAM (totals out to 72GB's within 18 slots):
6 x Patriot Signature 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Registered DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Server Memory

Hard Drive (got 4 totaling out to 3150 GB's):
1x Western Digital Raptor 150GB 10,000 Rpm's (Installing OS on this)
3x Western Digital Caviar 1TB 7200 RPM's

Power Supply (750w):
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail

I have a good Server rack case and decent sound card and cd/dvd drive. Looking into Power supply Backup as well.

Plan on running this on Verison Fios's best connection "for now" under dedicated line.

Note:
Also so you know this server will be running Gaming server's for Counter-strike source, Call of duty 4 ,
Modern warfare 2 (soon to be) and some others but mostly those.

Anonymous (not verified):

Your homebuilt

Wow that's nice kit, id say 512mb can run 60 slots, it say your can run around 3000+

olp (not verified):

Many useful links

There are so many useful links in the end of this article. Thanks for sharing that info!

Lepi (not verified):

Ask host about RAM

it is always good to contact your new host and ask them how much RAM they recommend for your website. Tell them about software you'll use, they shoud be able to give you the best answer - it is their server after all. Also ask about downgrade/upgrade options if what they suggested later doesn't turn to be the optimal.

more ram for php mysql (not verified):

server need 8 giga

for webserver you should have more than 6 gb ram for 40000 visits daily when you use mysql and php ex.vbulletin
or you get alot of hang

Anonymous (not verified):

pay attention to processor

If you're buying dedi server for heavy website it is also good to pay attention to processor not only the RAM.

RuDD (not verified):

how much ram for virtual private server?

Sorry if my question is stupid, but I am buying VPS and am a bit cinfused. Does VPS need the same amount of RAM as dedicated server

Anonymous (not verified):

ClamAV on 256MB? you wish

If you are running an email server with full spam/virus checking you can forget to run it on 256MB... ClamAV alone takes 150MB idle...

If you can do it, please share your configuration because I really want to know how.

anil (not verified):

Re: Need Help about Dedicated Server

Hi,

I'm planning to build a dedicated server for my website http://itanil.com.

Can u please help me how to build server, hardware requirements, software and other requirements.

Please help me out.

Thanks,
Anil

Jonathan (not verified):

I started on 256 with WP and

I started on 256 with WP and even hosting just a few smallish (<100 views monthly) I quickly found memory to be filling up. Now on 512, I have no issues. :)

Air Purifier (not verified):

started with rackspace

we started with 1G on Rackspace Cloud server, however we host all images and videos by using their Cloud Files. It would help a lot since the Cloud server is only serving html/php

shivani (not verified):

space req

hey we are going to buy a dedicated server linux based. but not so sure about the space needed for this. if traffic on our site is 1-5 million then.??? rpl soon