Linux swapping too much? How to check the swappiness and stop swapping

We could always disable swap but this would normally be a bad idea unless you have an incredible amount of RAM and a workload that will never exceed it.  However, for live/containerized and high performance environments it could be desirable.

Another middle ground may be to set swappiness to a lower number.

You may also want to clear your kernel's cache, which could be eating up RAM unnecessarily by clearing buffers/cache.

Swappiness is the tendency and how aggressively or passively you want to use swap space

swappiness is a numeric value between 100 and 0, with 100 being the most aggressive and 0 being the least likely to swap.

How to check your current swappiness level?

Here is an example on Ubuntu 20's defaults:

cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
60

We can see it is currently at level 60, which is a slight bias toward swapping more aggressively.

How can we temporarily change swappiness?

Just enter the numeric value and echo it into the swappiness entry under proc.

echo 30 > /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

How can we make the change permanent?

Edit /etc/sysctl.conf and add this:

vm.swappiness=30


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