Long load times and autocomplete issues on Zotero 5.0

Hello everyone, let me first thank your for making Zotero the amazing tool it is.

That said, I'd like to share a problem I've been having since making the switch to Zotero 5.0. I should note my library is very large (~150,000 items, most have at least one note attached, some 70,000 have attached files). I keep it in an external HD, and previously used Zotero through Firefox Portable. It was working perfectly.

Since making the switch to 5.0, however, I've been having two main problems. Keep in mind that I keep using exactly the same computer and exactly the same external HD.

1) The time to load up the database has increased very significantly. It used to load in under 5 minutes, and now it takes half an hour. That's... bad.

2) Most importantly, time to add new items has gone through the roof because of the autocomplete feature. I used to just ignore it and keep writing: "put in the title", press tab, "put in author's last name", tab, and so on.

But now autocomplete freezes everything for 1-2 minutes, sometimes more, for each field. I can keep typing (as I did before), but then after autocomplete finally finishes its work, whatever I wrote before the autocomplete process started is lost. This also happens with tags.

I used to be able to add a new item in under 20 seconds, now it takes me several minutes.

I can live with the first problem if need be, but the second really bugs me. Given the size of my database, you can see I usually file a few dozen new items per workday, and I can't possibly take four hours to do it.

Is there any way around this, some way to - at least - disable autocomplete in whole or in part?

  • edited November 28, 2017
    Could we see Debug IDs for 1) Zotero startup, using the "Restart with Logging Enabled…" option, and 2) using autocomplete?
  • Good news: the new 5.0.29 update, which I installed this morning, has apparently solved the second problem. I can now "tab" from field to field without autocomplete hanging the machine.

    The first problem is still present though.

    Here are the Debug IDs:

    1) For Zotero Startup: D1152648332.

    2) For data insertion (which is not apparently working fine again, you may ignore it): D1403326970.

    Thanks again.
  • OK, maybe I was a tad optimistic. The autocomplete hanging problem reappeared when I tried to add a new item to one of the larger folders within the library. It was less severe than before - that is, the hanging took less time - and there was apparently no hanging with the tags. But it was there.

    Here|s the Debug ID for this event:

    Thanks again.
  • How many total items is this? If you have 150K top-level items, it seems like this could be over 250,000 total items?

    Zotero 5.0 involved a change to how database access works in Zotero in order to improve general UI responsiveness, and one side effect is that it needs to load most data at startup, which can currently make startup slower for large libraries. For most people there shouldn't be too big of a difference, but a >200K-item library is well above anything we test with regularly, and we haven't yet had time to optimize it for databases that big. Obviously 19 minutes (which is what yours took in this debug output) is unreasonable, and we'll definitely try to improve this, hopefully by many minutes, but due to other priorities it may be a little while before we get to it. In the meantime I'd suggest leaving Zotero open whenever possible.

    I'd also be curious to know how long it takes to start up if you copy your database to the local hard drive and point Zotero there. It'll almost certainly take less time.

    Sorry I don't have better immediate news. Worth noting that, while Zotero 4.0 did start up more quickly, we still optimized for usage speed over startup speed — the Firefox version just had the advantage that most people left it open. So to the extent that you can do the same with Zotero 5.0, you'll be better off for now.
  • edited December 12, 2017
    Hello, Dan.

    I just checked, and I have 146,569 top-level items and 285,438 total items as of today.

    I totally understand I'm quite the outlier here with a library this size, and anyway, as I said in the original comment, I can live with the long loading time. It's not optimal but it's possible to leave Zotero open at all times, as you suggested, so I only pay this penalty once per workday.

    The real issue is the time lag for inputting new items because autocomplete hangs up the system when I write in both fields and tags. Although perhaps small for each new item, this lag adds up quickly and is quite infuriating. And this didn't happen before, I could just hit "tab" on each field and keep writing, there were no freezes and no information loss, unlike now.

    Is it not possible to add an option to disable autocomplete? This would solve 90% of the bother I now have. Of course, I have no idea how hard, or how easy, it is to do it technically.

    Thanks again.
  • I'd also be curious to know how long it takes to start up if you copy your database to the local hard drive and point Zotero there. It'll almost certainly take less time.

    Sorry, forgot to deal with this point. I can't do that because the library is too large for the desktop hard disk, that's why I've been using an external HD. In any case, I used the very same external HD before, with the same desktop computer, and loading up the database was quick enough. Anyway, as I said above, this is not the main problem now... Thanks.
Sign In or Register to comment.