How to increase available memory on any Linux server

If you're suffering with server lag, ping latency, degraded system functionality or generally slow response times you may need to add extra RAM to your server.

Of course, adding RAM is a solution - but it's not the only option you have. Why not think about utilising swap space, this enables you to let your HDD act as a virtual-backup solution to out-of-memory situations.

These days of course using your HDD for RAM doesn't seem as bad as what it sounds, with SSD's widely used the temptation to switch to swap space is quite understandable.

Plus, for most use-cases, you will only need as much as 2-4GB of RAM in order to compile your favourite popular software title - such as Apache, or similar. To simply run the program may require less RAM thus less overhead for cost. You could use the package manager to install Apache to avoid having to compile it but why do that when you a) want to compile and b) can simply add swap space.

To add swap space, follow these instructions:

sudo fallocate -l 1G /swapfile

Here, we are creating a swap file with a size of 1G. If you need more swap, replace 1G with the desired size.

A good rule of thumb is to have 3x more swap than your physical RAM. So for 2GB of RAM you would have 6GB of swap space.

If the fallocate utility is not available on your system or you get an error message saying fallocate failed: Operation not supported, use the dd command to create the swap file:

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1024 count=1048576

Next, set the swap space files permissions so that only the root user can read and write the swap file:

sudo chmod 600 /swapfile

Next, set up a Linux swap area on the file:

sudo mkswap /swapfile

Activate the swap by executing the following command:

sudo swapon /swapfile

And that should do it. Check the memory is allocated by simply using free.

sudo free -h

Finally, make the changes permanent by adding a swap entry in the /etc/fstab file:

echo  '/swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0' >> /etc/fstab

Now, when your server reboots the swap space will be reconfigured automatically.

And that's it! If you enjoyed this post please feel free to leave a like or a comment using the messaging options below.