64-Bit vs 32-Bit for Low-RAM VPS

Say you have a KVM VPS where a 32-bit non-PAE kernel can address all the memory (that is, it has less than ~3 GB RAM). Would you use a 64-bit OS, or would you stick to 32-bit? Does 64-bit still have advantages in that case?

I know in the past, 32-bit has been recommended for low-RAM servers (due to the smaller pointer size resulting in less RAM usage, at least in theory). I stuck to 32-bit on a server with 512 MB for that reason. However, I’m not sure if that recommendation is still accurate. On the flip side to that, since the host machine is 64-bit, is it beneficial if all guests are also 64-bit?

  • 32-bit
  • 64-bit

0 voters

32bit in this case.

I’m going to say 64bit purely from the point of view that the major distros seem to be moving away from 32bit and that could possibly affect upgrades down the line.

32bit still works great, unless you specifically need 64bit (and vice versa)

Not too sure if there’s a measurable real world performance hit by using 64bit, even though the math suggests there could be.

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Definitely 64 bit. Nobody cares about i386 in this day and age.



I use 64 bit even on my LES VMs (128mb or 256mb ovz’s). Have never had any issues.

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LES is love,
LES is life

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I use Debian which has no plans to drop 32-bit support, so I’m not too concerned about that.


I would say 64bit in case you want to upgrade the server later. The memory difference is tiny, it made the most sense when we were working on 64-128mb servers.



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I’ve used 32bit but not for any particularly well thought out reason, mostly just sort of cargo-culting it because it worked fine for what I was doing the first time I made this choice and I never thought to think about it again since.

64bit across the board these days. Think I’ve only got 1 or 2 32 bit VPS’s left and it’s only because I’ve been too lazy to reinstall (fairly sure both are still running on Wheezy, lol).

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64 bit or replace hw.

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I am all 64 bit, if i woke up 32 bit again, i’d probably be demented already.

I also use 32-bit for VPSes with 2 GB or less of RAM because 64-bit seems like overkill for this purpose. A number of distributions (e.g., Debian, Slackware, the main BSDs) aren’t going to abandon 32-bit anytime soon – it’s only from a certain perspective that 32-bit is considered dead.