FileMaker Server - minimum requirements

I'm considering server/hosting options for some of my customers who currently use FileMaker's peer-to-peer networking. These are typically 2-3 users (just a single user in one case) who may have used this type of networking for many years.

The FileMaker Server 18 minimum requirements include 8GB RAM and a hard drive of 100GB or more (with a minimum of 50GB free). It seems FileMaker hosting companies typically offer dedicated (virtual) servers with far lower specifications, for their basic plans - eg 4GB RAM with SSD drives from 30GB. I think many such companies offer a good service, often based on many years' experience of FMS hosting.

I have a copy of FMS 18 installed on some cheap hosting, for testing purposes: Windows Server 16 Standard, 2GB RAM, 40GB SSD. I have done only very limited testing: continually sorting large numbers of records on two computers connected to the server (ie constant progress bars). This doesn't have a great deal of impact on CPU usage and RAM usage stays at about 55%.

I would be interested to hear of others' experience and advice regarding practical minimum requirements - in cases like these. (My intention is not to start a discussion about the merits or otherwise of peer-to-peer networking.)

I wouldn't go below 8GB of RAM, I've seen instances where FMS wouldn't even launch when there is not enough RAM or processing power (and 2GB of RAM is very marginal).
Disk space is totally dependent on your own requirements (size of the solution, # of backup sets,...).

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The FileMaker hosting company I've used includes 4GB RAM with their basic package (as I mentioned, I think this is pretty standard). Obviously, it depends on the solution and number of users etc. but this does seem to be perfectly adequate in some cases.

I was surprised that 2GB RAM would work at all, but I've been using this server off and on for a few weeks, and it seems to work fine - mainly with just a single user, and a fairly complex solution. I intended to start with the lowest package available and to add resources as necessary, to discover what the real minimum specifications would be. As it is, I've just left it at the minimum.

Thanks for confirming what I would have assumed regarding disk space. I don't know why FileMaker minimum specifications are:

Hard Drive: 100 GB or more, dependent on file size, requires minimum of 50 GB of free space.

I have seen FMI/CI recommend minimum RAM, and have also seen experienced developers successfully host systems using less RAM than recommended.

A number of years ago, I asked some FMI engineers about this and offered the thought that there is a downside to recommending a minimum that might sometime be too high. I did not get an official response, although I might have provided food for thought in the spirit of brainstorming.

2 GB seems low. Perhaps you could meet your needs with 4 GB?

Less money required for hardware might increase the chance of a FileMaker project going forward and providing revenue to FMI/CI and FM Devs.

As always, it depends on the details.

  • Number of users
  • Web Direct in the mix
  • Etc.
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Because very bad things happen when an FMS runs out of disk space, including eating its own tail and crashing. 100GB is a nice wide margin for most solutions and a decent number of backups.

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You already mentioned to use an SSD drive :+1:

Yes, I expect 4GB would be sufficient. For my own purposes - for testing - I'll probably stick with my cheap hosting package, with its 2GB RAM. There's something to be said for testing on a very low-spec machine - and it actually performs pretty well.

I'm sure this is true but I think it would be more useful if the minimum space requirements were just that - rather than some theoretical figure based on having a large solution with a week's worth of backups etc..

To someone new to the somewhat esoteric world of FileMaker, it might seem odd that the technical specifications are not very technical (nor very useful) - or even more odd that FileMaker Server requires at least 50GB of free disk space. Compare Microsoft's detailed specifications for SQL Server, which apparently has very modest minimum requirements, compared to FileMaker Server's: 6GB of free disk space and 1GB RAM.

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Some perspective…

Years ago, I had a very good experience with an entry level Apple Xserve Xeon 2.0 "Quad Core" (Late 2006) running FMS v8.5 with a 45+ multi-file solution with ~12 constant users (but more licenses) at a manufacturing facility on the west coast, 2 shifts. Other occasional users were in the field from coast to coast. No photo or document containers were involved. Never failed in the three years I was there. We restarted the server once every holiday season. Another Xserve in the rack happened to be dedicated to hosting a popular website geared toward PC users, ironically.

More recently, same good experience since using Apple Mac mini "Core i7" 2.3 (Late 2012/Server) and later with FMS 12+ with single-file solutions with ~5 concurrent users and ~2 remote, occasional users. Native FM image containers were involved but mostly served highly optimized photo thumbnails, qty ~1K.

Static IPs, of course.

Again, just my experience from the past. Looking forward to newer installations if buy-in from my “always pragmatic” prospects can ever feel comfortable with FM’s complicated pricing and licensing structures along with their ongoing flux.


I can only imagine any such large db files (along with annexed folders) are due to being used as digital asset managers and storing container assets. Am I wrong?

Totally different audience of course. The FMS specs are targeted towards low-tech folks who have their solution in mind, not just the narrow installation of FMS itself.

But I get your point.

I would have thought FileMaker's intended/desired audience is becoming more high-tech (with the low-tech folks being gradually abandoned).

I don't think we've mentioned any specific type of solution. But even say a fairly modest 5GB solution with some basic backups would add up:

  • OS, say 20GB, leaving some room for updates
  • FMS live files: 5GB
  • progressive backups: 2x5 = 10GB
  • data restoration feature: 4GB (it's on by default)
  • daily backups kept for a week: 5x7 = 35GB
  • hourly backups kept for working hours: 8x5 = 40GB

This alongs brings us well over 100GB...

Again, as a real use case perspective...
Eight years of daily, two shifts of manufacturing management for one the busiest shops of its type in the U.S., the db file only amounted to ~350Mb. No image data, remember. If I recall correctly, bkup was performed at lunch / dinner hours and midnight. The solution tracked staff, CRM, and production, then exported to QuickBooks. Point being, lots of simple but extensive data.

That's very efficient... I don't see that very often

The 3 most recent solutions I looked at for clients:

  • 75 files, combined around 30GB of FM files with an additional 30GB of remote container data. No images or document management, but a fair number of stored data in/out files from labs etc
  • 10 files, 10 years worth of data, combined about 25GB, no container data whatsoever
  • 6 files, about 3 years worth of data, 20GB total, incoming POs and PO distribution with lots of API integrations

Looking at those, they are fairly common in my work, which is why I picked 5GB for the smaller size of my example.

The client with that biggest solution in my list has a requirement to have backups every 15 minutes with a downtime of no more than 30 minutes.

Only goes to show you that disk space recommendations as a rule-of-thumb are kinda meaningless.

One of the primary requirements of maintaining a FileMaker Server is making sure that the deployment does not run out of disk space.

This is especially true for the disk space on the boot volume and/or the volume on which FileMaker Server is installed.

The gold standard in watching disk space is using monitoring software, for example, using Zabbix.

That said, not all FileMaker systems are being monitored in this way.

Running out of disk space is more often the result of increase in the total size of back ups, rather than the growth of the files themselves.

One way that you can prevent the growth of backup from bringing your system down is to have backup directed only to volumes other than the boot volume and/or the volume on which FileMaker Server is installed. If a backup requires more space that what is available, FileMaker Server will remove the earliest back up and (if configured), send a notification email.

If if you have a properly set up Zabbix system, choosing how you configure your volumes and backup schedule can still be helpful.

Our files, about 50 in total with no container data, is 100GB. Most of that come from 2 files, the data file and the reporting file.

It’s also important to remember that with 18, you need to account for the 8GB StartupRestoration log.

But this doesn't have to be on the primary disk. Also, you probably need to account for 16GB for this:

The startup restoration log itself is never larger than 8 GB but requires 16 GB in total to be free for a deferred restoration..

(FM white paper)

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Doesn't have to be on the primary disk, but I would say 1% of the developer base knows how to change it. :laughing:

Good point about the 16GB.