I have a server that is being repurposed into a SQL Server. It came with more physical memory than the 32GB that can be seen by my OS (Windows Server 2008 R2).

Management would like me to configure the Maximum server memory used by SQL (SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 3) to be higher than what is seen by the OS. I can change it in the properties of SQL Server via SQL Server Management Studio. Will SQL Server be able to utilize the additional RAM? Or will it exhaust all memory made available to the OS?

  • 4
    Can't get blood from a stone. How do you expect SQL Server to use memory that doesn't exist? The OS needs to see it first... Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:14
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    Possible duplicate of SQL Server Maximum and Minimum memory configuration
    – Kin Shah
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:14
  • What does SQL 'see' as available? By default SQL has a max memory that is way higher than any server I've ever seen. That does not mean SQL will magically use more than available.
    – nkdbajoe
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:17
  • I completely agree with the "can't get blood from a stone" comparison. I just was coming up short with a viable source to show management that it is not possible. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


Presumably you have the "Standard" edition of Windows Server 2008 R2.

You'll need to move to the Enterprise Edition (or DataCenter) of Window Server 2008 R2 to utilize more than 32GB, regardless of the "max server memory" setting in SQL Server.

Windows memory limitations can be seen on MSDN here.

Keep in mind, SQL Server also has memory limitations by edition. SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition limits memory to a maximum of 64GB.

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    Right. OS problem, nothing to do with SQL Server. If you want the OS to use more than 32GB, you need to switch to an edition of Windows that is capable of using more than 32GB. Even then, you don't want to give it all to SQL Server, and in fact you might not be able to depending on version/edition. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 20:27
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    Max, thank you for your explanation and links. This was exactly my thinking on this but I was coming up short with a good source to explain to management. I appreciate all the quick answers! You guys are awesome! Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 20:52

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