Pandas: How to see the memory usage of a Series/DataFrame (in bytes)

Updated: February 17, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Pandas is a powerful tool for data analysis and manipulation. One critical aspect of working with large datasets is understanding and managing the memory usage of your data structures. This tutorial covers how you can view the memory usage of a Series or DataFrame in Pandas, providing insights into managing and optimizing your Python data analysis workflows more efficiently.

Getting Started

Before diving into the specifics of memory usage, ensure Pandas is installed in your environment. You can install Pandas using pip:

pip install pandas

Once Pandas is installed, you can begin importing your data and analyzing its memory footprint.

Basic Memory Usage Inspection

Understanding the memory usage starts with the basic memory_usage() method provided by Pandas for both Series and DataFrames.

Series Memory Usage

import pandas as pd

# Creating a Series
s = pd.Series(range(1000))

# Checking memory usage

The output you receive, in bytes, is a straightforward measure of the memory that your Series uses.

DataFrame Memory Usage

import pandas as pd

# Creating a DataFrame
df = pd.DataFrame({'A': range(1000), 'B':pd.Series(dtype='float64')})

# Checking memory usage

This will print the memory usage of each column in bytes, along with an entry for the index. For a more detailed overview, you can pass deep=True to the memory_usage() method:


Deep Memory Inspection

For a more granular inspection of your DataFrame’s memory footprint, you should use the deep=True flag. This is especially useful for object dtypes, as it accurately measures their true memory usage.

df['C'] = pd.Series(['a' * 2000 for i in range(1000)])

As seen in the example above, adding a column with larger, repeated string values significantly increases the DataFrame’s memory usage. This provides a more accurate representation of the memory footprint, particularly for data structures with object dtypes.

Optimizing Memory Usage

In addition to measuring memory usage, Pandas offers tools to optimize and reduce memory load. One common approach is to change the data type of your columns to more memory-efficient formats.

# Changing data type to reduce memory usage
df['A'] = df['A'].astype('int32')

As demonstrated, changing numeric columns to smaller integer types can significantly reduce memory usage. This technique is particularly effective when your dataset contains large numbers of integers that do not require the precision of a 64-bit data type.

Summarizing Total Memory Usage

While examining individual columns is insightful, you might also want to summarize the total memory usage of your DataFrame. This can be achieved by summing the output of the memory_usage() method, including the index.

total_memory = df.memory_usage(deep=True).sum()
print(f"Total Memory Usage: {total_memory} bytes")

This concise output provides a quick overview of the total memory footprint of your DataFrame, allowing for efficient resource management in larger data analysis tasks.

Using Memory Optimization Libraries

For those working with very large datasets, additional Python libraries such as Datatable and VAEX can offer more specialized memory optimization techniques. These libraries are worth exploring for data science projects requiring extensive memory management.


Understanding and managing memory usage is crucial for efficient data analysis with Pandas. By inspecting and optimizing the memory usage of Series and DataFrames, you can improve the performance and scalability of your Python projects. The tools and techniques discussed in this tutorial provide a foundation for managing memory effectively, aiding in the processing and analysis of large datasets.