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I plan to launch an app, and plan to set its available memory optimistically high (it's a VPS). How can I figure out, say looking a month later, what it's maximum usage over that time was, i.e. if it ever came near to swapping memory? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

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Which virtualization platform are you running? If you're using OpenVZ or Virtuozzo, it's as easy as looking in /proc/user_beancounters – danlefree Oct 19 '10 at 4:39
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There's the old standby, sar (sysstat/sa1). It can give you all sorts of useful statistics including memory and cpu utilization, disk io, etc. It's stable, run as a cronjob, and available for pretty much every linux distro.

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Thanks, that looks like just the ticket. – Bill Oct 19 '10 at 6:30

Install a munin server, and run a munin client on the virtual instance. It will log memory usage and a number of other useful statistists over time.

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collectd is a plugin-based system statistics collection daemon. I believe the Memory plugin would fill the need.

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Another option would be running atop.

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