How To Add Swap Space on Ubuntu 18.04 / 20.04
One of the easiest way of guarding against out-of-memory errors in applications is to add some swap space to your server. In this guide, we will cover how to add a swap file to an Ubuntu 18.04 server.
Warning: Although swap is generally recommended for systems utilizing traditional spinning hard drives, using swap with SSDs can cause issues with hardware degradation over time. Due to this consideration, we do not recommend enabling swap on DigitalOcean or any other provider that utilizes SSD storage. Doing so can impact the reliability of the underlying hardware for you and your neighbors. This guide is provided as reference for users who may have spinning disk systems elsewhere.
If you need to improve the performance of your server on DigitalOcean, we recommend upgrading your Droplet. This will lead to better results in general and will decrease the likelihood of contributing to hardware issues that can affect your service.
What is Swap?
Swap is an area on a hard drive that has been designated as a place where the operating system can temporarily store data that it can no longer hold in RAM. Basically, this gives you the ability to increase the amount of information that your server can keep in its working “memory”, with some caveats. The swap space on the hard drive will be used mainly when there is no longer sufficient space in RAM to hold in-use application data.
The information written to disk will be significantly slower than information kept in RAM, but the operating system will prefer to keep running application data in memory and use swap for the older data. Overall, having swap space as a fallback for when your system’s RAM is depleted can be a good safety net against out-of-memory exceptions on systems with non-SSD storage available.