Increasing JIRA memory

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(Seeing OutOfMemoryErrors in the logs or Jira slows down is symptomatic of this.)

Java applications like JIRA and Confluence run in a “Java virtual machine” (JVM), instead of directly within an operating system. When started, the Java virtual machine is allocated a certain amount of memory, which it makes available to applications like JIRA. By default, Java virtual machines are allocated 64 MB of memory, no matter how many gigabytes of memory your server may actually have available. 64 MB is inadequate for medium to large JIRA installations, and so therefore JIRA memory needs to be increased.

Step 1: Diagnosis


Determine JIRA usage patterns

To determine the JIRA usage patterns:
Choose the cog icon at top right of the screen, then choose JIRA Admin. Then choose System > Troubleshooting and Support > System Info (tab) to open the ‘System Info’ page. Then scroll down the page to view the Java VM Memory Statistics section and look at the memory graph during times of peak usage:

Increasing JIRA Memory1

This server has been allocated a maximum of 768 MB and a minimum of 256 MB (typically defined in the setenv script which is executed by running the start-jira script). If you are trying to see whether your settings are being picked up by JIRA, this is where to look. Here, you can see that JIRA has reserved 742 MB, or which 190 MB is actually in use. If this JIRA instance were running out of memory, it would have reserved the maximum available (768 MB), and would be using an amount close to this.

Determine available system memory on Windows

From the Close Programs Dialogue (Press ctrl-alt-delete), select the Performance tab:

Increasing JIRA memory Performance tab

The amount marked Available is the amount in kilobytes you have free to allocate to JIRA. On this server we should allocate at most 214 MB.


As a rule of thumb, if you have fewer than 5000 issues, JIRA should run well with the default 768 MB. Granting JIRA too much memory can impact performance negatively, so it is best to start with 768 MB and make modest increases as necessary. As another data point, 40,000 works well with 768 MB to 1 GB.

Step 2: Increasing available JIRA memory


Windows Service

There are two ways to configure system properties when starting Running JIRA as a Service, either via command line or in the Windows Registry.

Setting Properties for Windows Services via Command Line as an administrator

Identify the name of the service that JIRA is installed as in Windows (Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services):

Increasing JIRA memory - control panel

In the above example, the SERVICENAME is: JIRA120312230938

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  • Open the command window from Start > Run > type in ‘cmd’ > press ‘Enter’
  • cd to the bin subdirectory of your JIRA Installation Directory (or the bin subdirectory of your Tomcat installation directory if your are running the JIRA WAR distribution). For Example:
    cd C:\Program Files\Atlassian\JIRA\bin
  • For JIRA 5.1 or below:
    tomcat6w //ES//%SERVICENAME%
  • For JIRA 5.2 or above:
    tomcat7w //ES//%SERVICENAME%

In the above example, it would be tomcat6w //ES//JIRA120312230938

Increasing JIRA memory - command prompt

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  • Click on the Java tab to see the list of current start-up options:

Increasing JIRA memory - Java tab

  • Set the maximum memory allocation here.


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