[R] Running out of memory when importing SPSS files

Uwe Ligges ligges at statistik.tu-dortmund.de
Wed Feb 18 23:34:21 CET 2009

dobomode wrote:
> 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? 

Because SPSS stores data in a compressed way?

 > 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?

Use a 64-bit version of R and have sufficient amount of RAM in your system.

Uwe Ligges

> Thanks!
> P.S.
> 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...
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