Share via

Effects of min and max server memory

The min server memory and max server memory configuration options establish upper and lower limits to the amount of memory used by the buffer pool of the Microsoft SQL Server Database Engine. The buffer pool does not immediately acquire the amount of memory specified in min server memory. The buffer pool starts with only the memory required to initialize. As the Database Engine workload increases, it keeps acquiring the memory required to support the workload. The buffer pool does not free any of the acquired memory until it reaches the amount specified in min server memory. Once min server memory is reached, the buffer pool then uses the standard algorithm to acquire and free memory as needed. The only difference is that the buffer pool never drops its memory allocation below the level specified in min server memory, and never acquires more memory than the level specified in max server memory.


SQL Server as a process acquires more memory than specified by max server memory option. Both internal and external components can allocate memory outside of the buffer pool, which consumes additional memory, but the memory allocated to the buffer pool usually represents the largest portion of memory consumed by SQL Server.

The amount of memory acquired by the Database Engine is entirely dependent on the workload placed on the instance. A SQL Server instance that is not processing many requests may never reach min server memory.

If the same value is specified for both min server memory and max server memory, then once the memory allocated to the Database Engine reaches that value, the Database Engine stops dynamically freeing and acquiring memory for the buffer pool.

If an instance of SQL Server is running on a computer where other applications are frequently stopped or started, the allocation and deallocation of memory by the instance of SQL Server may slow the startup times of other applications. Also, if SQL Server is one of several server applications running on a single computer, the system administrators may need to control the amount of memory allocated to SQL Server. In these cases, you can use the min server memory and max server memory options to control how much memory SQL Server can use. For more information, see Server Memory Options.

The min server memory and max server memory options are specified in megabytes.