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How important is RAM?

Web Hosting Blog

What is RAM?

The RAM (Random Access Memory) is the working memory of your server. You could also describe it as the short term memory of your server, where the long term memory would be the hard drive. It’s important to consider all levels of server resource when you’re at the purchasing stage, but very few deciding factors are more important than the RAM, simply because of its impact on all other resources and aspects of performance.

To highlight the importance of RAM, let’s take a look at what it actually does. We’ve already mentioned that RAM acts as a short term memory, a sort of halfway-house for data to be stored for easy access by current processes.

In fact, let’s think of it as a house, and let’s say you’ve invited lots of people to come over. The size of aforementioned house would be determined by how much RAM was installed. You would only be able to fit a certain amount of people in the house, and if you wanted anyone else to come in, you would have to start kicking people out the back so that the new people fit. That’s exactly what RAM does. It holds on to data for quick access. When it needs to access newer data, it will “kick out” or forget the older data so that it can accept the newer data. Every time that happens, the RAM needs the CPU to access the hard drive. That takes computing power, and if that action is needed repeatedly, it’ll cause a lag in the server as a whole. The more RAM a server has, the less the CPU needs to access the hard drive, and the faster the server will run as a result.

How much RAM do I need?

How much RAM you need is dependent on what your server is actually used for, what you want it to do, and how fast you want it to do it. Of course how much RAM you actually have will also depend on a second factor, which is cost. Because of the importance of RAM and the impact it can have on your other resources we would always recommend having as much RAM as you can afford, as the benefits to your system as a whole are huge.

Your RAM’s time to shine is when your server is at its busiest. So it’s especially important to think of the needs of your server in the long term, particularly the times of year when your server will be at it’s busiest. If you host an e-commerce website on your server, for example, you need to think about not just the every day visitors to your server, you need to think about the visitors that you get at your busiest times of year. For a lot of e-commerce sites, this of course is going to include the traffic that will be experienced during the festive period, from Black Friday, to Christmas, through to January sale time.

More RAM on your server is going to allow more processes at once without a lag on your server, and therefore your server is going to cope with a higher level of traffic, meaning the visitors to your site will not experience any delays, or worse, difficulties in accessing your site at all. We already know that slow websites lead to high abandonment from end users, so it’s not likely to be something you want to risk during a busy period.

What next?

If you are thinking of purchasing a new server before the festive period starts, now is the perfect time to do so and to think about the amount of RAM you will need. To help you get through the festive period and beyond, CWCS are currently offering double RAM on our standard Dedicated Server packages.

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, or speak to someone about your requirements in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our hosting specialists today on 0800 1 0777 000.