When deciding on what server to purchase, and specifically what specifications are needed, many often wonder how to decide on the total memory capacity that they would need. Unlike storage, you can get away with having very little memory on your server since the minimum requirements, technically speaking, are quite low; e.g., 4GB-8GB of memory is technically enough to run your server for its intended use, whatever that may be. With that being said, the “right” amount of memory to have is a function of several factors, which include the number of users that are likely to concurrently access the server, the size of the database, the frequency with which your data needs to be updated, the types of software that will be installed, the operating system, and much more.
How Much RAM Do I Need?
How Much RAM Do I Need?
In general, having more RAM is always better as it certainly speeds up your execution times, but you also want to make sure that you are not maxing out the memory on your server, so that you maintain the ability to add RAM as you scale your business.
It’s important to remember that your Operating System (OS) will need around 25% of your total RAM capacity, roughly speaking. So, if your total memory capacity is around 16GB, 4GB of that should be reserved for the OS. It’s also important to remember that SQL servers load the data you’re trying to process unto your memory first, so the larger the memory capacity, the faster you will be able to execute commands.
The number of users who will be accessing the server concurrently is also an important factor to consider. If that number is less than 20 users or so, then you may not need to think about having additional memory capacity. As that number increases however, you probably need to plan for 3-4GB of additional RAM for every 10 additional users.
In terms of database size, anything around 40GB or less should not require more than 32GB of RAM. For larger databases, and as the need to update the database more regularly increases, then there’s a larger need for additional RAM.
A few other things to consider:
- While maximizing the number of sticks and minimizing the capacity per stick may be the cheapest option, remember that it is also not the most scalable option. Having fewer and higher capacity sticks of RAM leaves you with the ability to more easily increase your memory capacity over time.
- Memory speed and voltage are also two important factors. Using low-voltage memory facilitates energy-efficiency without compromising on performance or speed. In terms of speed, while you do want to try and maximize that, you should also keep in mind that the generation of the server you are using may limit the total speed that you are able to use. Make sure you do not purchase higher-speed memory that will run at a lower speed because of your server’s limitations.
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