Memory Use

Version:
2021.3
Last modified: August 23, 2021

The Memory Limit setting in Alteryx Designer defines the maximum amount of memory the engine will use to perform operations in a workflow. Designer uses as much memory as it needs, up to the defined limit.

If the workflow requires more storage than defined, parts of the data stream are written out to temporary files and read back when needed.

How does Alteryx use memory?

By default, Designer uses 25% of the RAM on the computer on which it is installed. When processing a workflow, Alteryx adjusts to the memory available on the computer.

Memory Limit can be configured in 3 areas:

  • (Administrator) System Settings: This setting lets an administrator set the default memory usage for an Alteryx Server install. If you're an administrator, only make changes to this setting if necessary. The default value works well for most scenarios.
  • User Settings: This setting lets you set the memory usage for your Designer instance. These changes only affect the machine the setting is changed on.
  • Workflow Configuration: (Runtime tab) This setting lets you edit the memory usage for a specific workflow. Changes made here only apply to the workflow that is open. This makes it possible for you to allocate more memory for memory-intensive processes (for example, spatial, predictive, etc.) as needed so the workflow can run smoothly and ideally, more quickly.

An Administrator can lock the System Setting and prevent you from increasing the memory limit setting via User Settings and Workflow Configuration. When the System Setting is locked, you can only decrease the Memory Limit value in User Settings and Workflow Configuration.

Memory Limit Hierarchy

  • Memory Limit set in Workflow Configuration overrides User Settings and System Settings.
  • Memory Limit set in User Settings overrides System Settings.

What else impacts memory usage?

The number of processes running simultaneously impacts the way a computer's memory is used. If Memory Limit is set to 2,000 MB and Designer is set to run 4 workflows simultaneously, at least 8,000 MB or 8 GB might be used across 4 workflows to process data.

Note that tools that include sort and join operations are not the only tools that consume memory. For example, tools used to calculate drive times use a lot of memory. Memory that these other tools use is in addition to the memory used by tools that include sort and join processes.

What is the recommended Memory Limit value?

By default, Designer uses 25% of the RAM on the computer on which it is installed. It is recommended to not raise this value above 50% of the computer's RAM divided by the number of simultaneous workflows you intend to run.

When is it okay to edit the Memory Limit value?

In most cases, it is best not to edit the default value. However, there are a couple of cases in which you can improve performance by changing this setting.

Lowering Memory Limit

Only lower the default value for these reasons:

  • The computer on which Designer is installed will be used to run other memory-intensive applications.
  • The server on which Designer is installed will be used to run many processes simultaneously. The server will be better able to handle the workload if the default Memory Limit value is lowered.
  • A workflow you want to run includes many memory-intensive non-sort processes like calculating drive times. In this case, wait to edit the default Memory Limit value until you experience processing issues.

Raising Memory Limit

Only increase the default Memory Limit value if a workflow you want to run includes many sort-intensive processes and you want to dedicate the computer to run the workflow. In this case, wait to edit the default Memory Limit value until you experience processing issues.

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