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Amir Blum for Aspecto

Posted on • Originally published at Medium


How to Reduce RAM Consumption by X6 When Using ts-node

It turns out that running ts-node-dev / ts-node is constantly consuming hundreds of megabytes of RAM even for small and simple applications.

In development, it is usually not a big concern, however, it can be, if your application is running inside a docker container with limited resources (for example, with Docker Desktop on Mac which allocates by default only 2GB of RAM to all the containers in total).

Typescript code should be transpiled to Javascript which can be done either before running the process (tsc) or in runtime (ts-node).

The most efficient way is transpiling before running, however, this isn’t as developer-friendly since it takes forever. ts-node-dev loads everything into memory then watches the changes the developer is making and transpiles the project fast on every change.

We encountered the issue while building a demo application to showcase our product at Aspecto.

We were running multiple typescript services with docker-compose and started seeing arbitrary ts-node-dev processes exiting without even running the application, displaying the message “Done in 79.06s”.

This was due to a lack of memory. Each typescript service was using ~600MB of RAM out of the total 2GB available for all containers.

After digging a bit, we found a few possible solutions and wanted to share them.

Run ts-node-dev with option --transpile-only

In our case, adding the --transpile-only option to ts-node-dev reduced the consumed RAM from ~600MB to ~170MB.

The price was that the typescript code would only be transpiled, and typechecking would be skipped. Most modern IDEs (vscode, web storm), has built-in typescript IntelliSense which highlights errors, so for us, it was a fair price to pay.

If you use ts-node to run code in production that was already successfully compiled and tested in the CI, you can only benefit from setting this option.

Compile the code with tsc and monitor file changes with nodemon

Instead of using ts-node-dev, which consumes a lot of memory, it is possible to compile the application directly with tsc and then run it from dist/build like this: node dist/index.js.

For automatic reload on source file changes, nodemon / node-dev can be used.

This is our “start” script in package.json:

For automatic reload on source file changes, nodemon / node-dev can be used.

This is our “start” script in package.json:

"scripts": {
  "start": "nodemon --watch src -e ts --exec \"(tsc && node dist/index.js) || exit 1\""
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This approach reduced the RAM on our service from ~600MB to ~95MB (but there was still a spike in RAM to 600Mb for few seconds while tsc was compiling).

Unlink the previous option, this approach does check for typescript errors and warnings, and the service does not start if errors exist in the code.

The price to pay here is a longer compilation time. In our setup, it’s about 10 seconds from saving the file until the service restarts.

Increase Docker desktop available RAM

This is the easiest fix. Just allocate more Memory to Docker Desktop by going to Preferences => Resources => Memory, and increase the value.

While it fixes the immediate problem, the containers still consume a lot of memory, and if you have plenty of them, it might be a problem soon enough.

In addition, changing the default configuration should be done by every user that wants to run the system with docker-compose, which introduces complexity in installation and usage.


If memory consumption is not an issue for you, just use ts-node in production and ts-node-dev in development.

However, if you do care about memory, then you have a tradeoff between fast restart time after modifications (but typechecking only in the IDE, set --transpileOnly, or typechecking in compilation) and slower restart on each modification (directly use tsc and nodemon / node-dev ).

Top comments (3)

sqlrob profile image
Robert Myers

I've just started using Typescript in node, so I'm still feeling my way around some, but why would you use ts-node in production? I've been deploying only compiled files, using ts-node only for local utility scripts.

theharshrastogi profile image
Harsh Rastogi

Yeah, we should use node exec and after converting to JavaScript. You r on the right path carry on.

jonlauridsen profile image
Jon Lauridsen

Oh neat, I even learned about ts-node-dev from this. Thanks for sharing.