[R] Running out of memory when importing SPSS files

dobomode dobomode at gmail.com
Wed Feb 18 20:21:06 CET 2009

Hello R-help,

I am trying to import a large dataset from SPSS into R. The SPSS file
is in .SAV format and is about 1GB in size. I use read.spss to import
the file and get an error saying that I have run out of memory. I am
on a MAC OS X 10.5 system with 4GB of RAM. Monitoring the R process
tells me that R runs out of memory when reaching about 3GB of RAM so I
suppose the remaining 1GB is used up by the OS.

Why would a 1GB SPSS file take up more than 3GB of memory in R? Is it
perhaps because R is converting each SPSS column to a less memory-
efficient data type? In general, what is the best strategy to load
large datasets in R?



I exported the SPSS .SAV file to .CSV and tried importing the comma
delimited file. Same results – the import was much slower but
eventually I ran out of memory again...

More information about the R-help mailing list