SQL SERVER – Understanding Minimum Server Memory

When configuring your SQL Server for optimal performance, understanding and correctly implementing the ‘minimum server memory’ setting is crucial. This parameter plays a fundamental role in managing how SQL Server uses system memory, thereby influencing the overall performance of your SQL Server instance.

What is Min Server Memory?

Min server memory (MB) is a configurable option in SQL Server that specifies the minimum amount of memory (in megabytes) that SQL Server is allowed to allocate to its buffer pool. This setting does not mean that SQL Server will immediately allocate the specified amount of memory upon startup. Instead, as the client load increases, SQL Server gradually increases its memory usage until it reaches the amount specified in the ‘min server memory’ setting. Once this threshold is reached, SQL Server will not release any memory back to the OS unless the ‘min server memory’ value is reduced.

Why is Min Server Memory Important?

Setting a value for ‘min server memory’ is essential, particularly in a virtualized environment. It ensures that memory pressure from the underlying host does not lead to unnecessary deallocation of memory from the buffer pool on a guest virtual machine (VM) beyond what is needed for acceptable performance. For servers hosting multiple instances of SQL Server, configuring ‘min server memory’ can help reserve memory for a particular instance.

It’s important to note, however, that SQL Server isn’t guaranteed to allocate the amount of memory specified in the ‘min server memory’ setting. If the server load never requires this amount of memory, SQL Server will use less.

Configuring Min Server Memory

The default setting for ‘min server memory’ is 0, which means that by default, SQL Server doesn’t guarantee any minimum amount of memory. However, you can set a specific value based on the server’s memory availability and the memory requirements of other applications running on the same server.

You can configure ‘min server memory’ through Transact-SQL or SQL Server Management Studio.

Using Transact-SQL

Ensure ‘show advanced options’ is set to 1 before changing these settings. The changes take effect immediately, without requiring a server restart.

Here is an example of how to set ‘min server memory’ to 1024 MB:

sp_configure 'show advanced options', 1;
sp_configure 'min server memory', 1024;

Using SQL Server Management Studio

You can also configure ‘min server memory’ through SQL Server Management Studio. In Object Explorer, right-click a server and select Properties. Then select the Memory page of the Server Properties window. Enter the desired number for ‘Minimum server memory’ in the Server memory options.

SQL SERVER - Understanding Minimum Server Memory minservermemory-800x904

Final Thoughts

Setting an appropriate value for ‘min server memory’ can help ensure efficient memory management in your SQL Server instance. It’s equally important to remember that this setting is just one part of a holistic approach to SQL Server performance tuning. Monitor your server’s performance regularly to determine if adjustments to this or other settings may be necessary.

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Reference: Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Geoffrey Langdon
    November 1, 2023 1:44 pm

    Good article, I don’t usually set min server memory and don’t usually appear to get issues, but in a virtual environment would the OS be more likely to reclaim memory than a non virtualised environment, even without any non-SQL applications running. I.e does memory management change sufficiently to warrant the change in min server memory, where on a physical server it would not?

  • If someone has set min server memory equal to max server memory, can i cause sql server hung kind of issues?


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