Solving Tomcat OutOfMemoryError: Heap space and PermGen space

It’s quite common to run In memory problems when running some big Java EE application on a Tomcat server.
Some of the most commmon errors are like the following ones.

This is about a full Heap space:

SEVERE: Servlet.service() for servlet jsp threw exception
java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space

This other is about the PermGen space that’s a memory area, where compiled classes (and JSPs) are kept, and this error might happen often if the running web application have many .java and .jsp.

MemoryError: PermGen space
java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space

To increase the memory available to Tomcat, about heap and permgen the correct options are the following ones.

This sets the max heap available to Tomcat at 1Gb of memory:

--JvmMx 1024

This sets the max permgen available to Tomcat at 256Mb of memory:


To change the Tomcat memory settings (when Tomcat is installed on Windows as system service), it’s required to use the command-line tool tomcat6. The next command changes the memory settings for the Tomcat service named Tomcat6

tomcat6 //US//Tomcat6 --JvmMx 1024 ++JvmOptions="-XX:MaxPermSize=256m"

The label //US//Tomcat6 has the meaning of Updating Server parameters for the service named Tomcat6.
Obviously this command should be executed from the directory C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Tomcat 6.0\bin or from wherever is the bin directory of your Tomcat installation. Or to make things simple, that directoy should be added to your PATH environment variable.

It’s even possible to update memory settings from a GUI frontend, or to view what happened after running the command line tool. Running the following command:

tomcat6w //ES//Tomcat6

a window will open showing all the parameters about the windows service Tomcat6.

It’s possible to see in this image that, after running the previous command, for setting higher memory limits, in the sections Maximum memory pool and at the end of the Java Options the new memory limits are set.

Tomcat Memory Settings on Windows

Tomcat Memory Settings on Windows

121 thoughts on “Solving Tomcat OutOfMemoryError: Heap space and PermGen space

  1. good…
    how to solve the same problem in Ubuntu..
    when am executing the same command am getting the error like ” tomcat6 command not found ” in bin directory

    • Hi While Iam trying to run above command (tomcat6w //ES//Tomcat6) the window showing all the parameters is not opened and its giving me error …

      [2011-07-25 14:39:52] [427 prunsrv.c] [error]
      The operation completed successfully.
      [2011-07-25 14:39:52] [1336 prunsrv.c] [error]
      Load configuration failed

      Please help us ASAP.

  2. Thanks a ton.
    I am able to resolve memory issue now. But i am unable to run tomcat6w //ES//Tomcat6, it gives me an error message telling that an instance of ‘ Tomcat is already running’ even though i have stopped it. Any tips to resolve this too.

  3. This article is by far the simplest and most effective I’ve found on this topic. Good going!

    @shobha – Make sure that the Tomcat monitor is not running in the taskbar next to the clock. Double click on the monitor to see the config.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been strugling with OutOfMemoryError for a while. Everywhere I’ve looked, the reference is to CATALINA_OPTS, but that did not change anything. The advice in this post fixed it!

  5. Make sure that there is at least 1 blank space at the end of the setting on the previous line, and make sure that there are NO TRAILING SPACES after the 256m.

    Just spent an hour trying find what was causing the following
    [2011-03-25 13:37:54] [error] CreateJavaVM Failed
    [2011-03-25 13:37:54] [error] The system could not find the environment option that was entered.

  6. This is not a solution; this just buys you some time. If you run out of PermGen space this means your class files are not unloaded for some reason. You will still run out of PermGen space sooner or later.

  7. Pingback: Proxy Servers » Tomcat 7 getting CreateJavaVM Failed Error

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