Startup check: Increasing JIRA application memory limits

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Java applications like JIRA Software 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 JIRA applications. 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 application installations, and so this needs to be increased. Seeing OutOfMemoryErrors in the logs is symptomatic of this.


  • This page addresses how to increase Heap Space memory. Confirm that you're not receiving Perm Gen or GC Overhead errors.
  • Make sure you do not to exceed 1024 MB as a base configuration when installing JIRA in Windows 32 bit.
  • For all of the following procedures, you must be logged in as a user with the JIRA Administrators global permission.

Step 1: Diagnosis

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Assess root cause

Often, there is a root cause for OutOfMemory Errors that may be better to address than just increasing memory. See JIRA Crashes Due to 'OutOfMemoryError Java heap space' for a discussion.

Determine JIRA application usage patterns

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Select System support > System Info 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:

(info) 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 applications, this is where to look. Here, you can see that JIRA applications have reserved 742 MB, or which 190 MB is actually in use. If this JIRA application 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 Dialog (Press ctrl-alt-delete), select the Performance tab:

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

On Linux

Run cat /proc/meminfo to view the memory usage.

Setting the -Xmx above the available amount on the server runs the risk of OutOfMemoryErrors due to lack of physical memory. If that occurs the system will use swap space, which greatly decreases performance.


As a rule of thumb, if you have fewer than 5000 issues, JIRA applications should run well with the default 768 MB. Granting JIRA applications 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: Increase available memory


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To increase heap space memory in Linux installations:

  1. In your <JIRA application installation directory>/bin (or <Tomcat Installation Directory>/bin for JIRA WAR installations), open the file.
  2. Find the sections JVM_MINIMUM_MEMORY= and JVM_MAXIMUM_MEMORY=
  3. See Diagnosis above and enter the appropriate values.

Windows (starting from .bat file)

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To configure system properties in Windows installations when starting from the .bat file:

  1. In your <JIRA application installation directory>/bin (or <Tomcat Installation Directory>/bin for JIRA WAR installations), open the setenv.bat file.
  2. Find the section set JVM_MINIMUM_MEMORY= and set JVM_MAXIMUM_MEMORY=
  3. See Diagnosis above and enter the appropriate values.

Windows service

Expand to see Windows service instructions

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

Setting properties for Windows services via command line

To set properties for Windows services via command line

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

    (info) In the above example, the SERVICENAME is: JIRA120312230938
  2. Open the command window from Start > Run > type in 'cmd' > press 'Enter'
  3. cd to the bin subdirectory of your JIRA application 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
  4. For JIRA 5.1 or below:

    tomcat6w //ES//%SERVICENAME%

    For JIRA 5.2 or above:

    tomcat7w //ES//%SERVICENAME%


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

  5. Click on the Java tab to see the list of current start-up options:
  6. Set the maximum memory allocation here

Setting properties for Windows services via the Windows registry

In some versions of Windows, there is no option to add Java variables to the service. In these cases, you must add the properties by viewing the option list in the registry.

To set properties for Windows services via the Windows registry

  1. Go to Start > Run, and run "regedit32.exe".
  2. Find the Services entry:
    32-bit: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Apache Software Foundation > Procrun 2.0 > JIRA
    64-bit: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Wow6432Node > Apache Software Foundation > Procrun 2.0 > JIRA
  3. To change existing properties, especially increasing Xmx memory, double-click the appropriate value.
  4. To change additional properties, double-click options.
  5. Modify the memory allocations here.

Step 3: Verify your settings

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To verify what settings are in place, check the <JIRA application home directory>/logs/atlassian-jira.log or catalina.out file. A section in the startup appears like this:

JVM Input Arguments : -Djava.util.logging.config.file=/usr/local/jira/conf/ -XX:MaxPermSize=256m -Xms256m -Xmx384m -Djava.awt.headless=true -Datlassian.standalone=JIRA -Dorg.apache.jasper.runtime.BodyContentImpl.LIMIT_BUFFER=true -Dmail.mime.decodeparameters=true -Djava.util.logging.manager=org.apache.juli.ClassLoaderLogManager -Djava.endorsed.dirs=/usr/local/jira/endorsed -Dcatalina.base=/usr/local/jira -Dcatalina.home=/usr/local/jira

(info) Look for Xmx (maximum) and Xms (minimum) settings.

This display is also available by viewing your system information.

Last modified on Nov 16, 2017

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