Zotero very slow

I've seen more than 132 threads in the forum about slowness, I don't know If I should open a new one, but as any situation is somehow peculiar I do it.
Since some months already, I realized an ever increasing slowness on zotero response, both opening but also adding, sorting, clicking on filed just to correct an input and so on; basically everything has become slower some days almost unusable and in a few cases hanging firefox. Now I have a 2013 PC fairly performing I would say, I use zotero with portable firefox (but installed on the hard disk not on a key) as I don't have administrators rights. The size of the library is some 10600 items plus 2000 attachments and notes. The size of the database is some 90 MB. Even using zotero standalone is still slow. However I installed a Mac version at home (but without activating the sync functions - apart for importing the library from the server at the first start) and zotero is perfectly responsive on the mac; now the question is is that possible that the 2000 attachments make the difference? I don't think zotero indexes the same items all the time,so what can make it so slowly responsive on the windows machine? I'm not sharing this library with nobody. However I access a shared library in the groups library ( avery small one no more than 400 items). Any idea?

Best regards
  • I think the portable version is a good candidate here, especially with a pretty large library -- I can easily see how running the database off an external harddisk would slow it down a lot (since access times are slower, even over USB 3.0).

    You've tried minimizing the tag selector? That'd be the only other thing I can think of.
  • Thanks, however the portable version here is not running on an external disk; I'm running it on my hard drive; the reason why I chose the portable version (the porting that portableapps does) is that you can install from a zip file and you dont'have to pass by an installer which I'm not allowed to run. But both firefox and the zotero database are on my hard drive. Of course being not an official Firefox version, this could always be the cause, although as I said in my post I also run sometimes the zotero standalone and I don't see any particular improvement. Is there any tools we should/could run to improve the database? I run some time the database integrity check (in the good old times I can remember functions like "compact database" that some dbmanager had) or is that totally useless?
  • I don't think any database optimization has much of a chance for improving things.
    You didn't answer re: the tag selector--is that already minimized?
  • sorry I forgot. Yes it is minimized.
  • Can you provide a Debug ID for editing an item or a similar operation that's slow?
  • well, I did again a check database integrity, and a "compact database" through a small app called SQLLiteDatabaseBrowser, I don't know if that was effective, however since yesterday responsiveness has dramatically improved; It takes 30 seconds to open, but other functions like editing, seraching, sorting now seem fairly responsive. I also deactivated automatic sync (although I was already not syncing the attachments)

    Anyhow the Debug ID is D534544953.
  • I would like to come back on this question, as me and my colleagues all working on a firefox portable version (because in our protected environment we cannot run other browser except IE)we are all experiencing the same extreme slowness, in opening the databases, positioning on collections and searching stuff. We did some test using other machines (also with SSD disks) but there is basically no difference; we all use FP on the or C drive not on an external disk. WE also tried to use Zotero standalone, but no way. I also deleted the full text index, and though there is some gain is not really worth doing. BY the way some colleagues never have activated the full text indexing, but they nevertheless have the same slow performances. As said in the initial post, the same database on my Mac at home works works much more quickly. Now the databse is the same, as I removed full text indexing. So the only difference is really that at home I have an official Firefox version. Should we conclude that the guilty is Firefox portable, though working on my C drive, and if yes why is zotero standalone equally slow?

    Best regards
  • Hi guys,

    I really love zotero, it saved me so much time, but now it slows down more and more.
    For a few weeks I am desperately trying to solve my performing-problems with zotero. Sometimes it takes me >3 mins to cite. I can type in the literature quite quickly but it takes zotero too much time to apply my entry.

    My Debug ID is: D1817020378
    System specs: MB Air 2012 (8GB RAM) and Word 2016 (it is the same with the 2011-version)

    I hope that you can help me, it slows down my workflow dramatically :-(

    Thank you all already!
  • how large is your document? (pages and approx. number of citations)
  • Hi, adamsmith!

    My document has about 219 pages, round about 61.000 words and approx. 230 citations (i.e. entries in my bibliography, not the number of citations in the text).

    I guess it is a performance problem of my recent notebook due to the age (specs) of the device?

    Thank You!
  • At that length/number of citations, experiencing some slowdown is expected. I would recommend splitting the document into chapters and working with them as separate files, only combing them and inserting the full bibliography as the final step. Also, delete the bibliography and only insert it after you finish writing--updating the bibliography is the most resource-intensive part of the Zotero plugin.
  • Hello bwiernik!

    Thank you for your advice! Just some notes and questions left...

    1) Usually the bibliography is not inserted in the document, I've done this just to provide the information in the forum. I will do this at the end, just as you suggest.

    2) Is the slowdown compensable by a stronger machine or is it a limitation in zotero?

    I've just updated zotero; thanks for this, zotero-team! :-)

    3) I have no experience in working with separate files in word yet. I would try to avoid this as long as 2) would solve the problem. If not I will have to do it this way :-/

    Kind regards
  • A faster machine will help, yes. So will choosing an author-date citation style rather than a numeric one (especially an author date style that doesn't change formatting for the first time an item is referenced versus subsequent times, such as Annual Review of Psychology).

    You can try those things, but you may still find that updating references is slow with 300+ citations in the text. To work with each chapter in a separate file, just move each section to a new Word document and continue to add/delete/modify references as normal. Then, at the end, copy the contents of each chapter file into one combined document and click the Zotero Refresh button (you may need to click the Zotero Document Preferences button and choose a citation style first). It really doesn't take much extra effort and can save you a lot of time.

    The Zotero developers are aware of the slowdown that occurs with very large documents and some ideas have been proposed for how to speed up different areas, but it will take a while to implement a solution.
  • Hi bwiernik!

    Thank you again for your helpful answers! I have solved the problem just as you suggest. Zotero is as fast as it was in the beginning. For all others out there with the same issue: Word also makes it possible to use so called "master documents" with subdocuments. You can always have a glance on the master document without copy-pasting over and over again.

    Great thanks to all developers!
  • EndNote has the option of viewing unformatted citations which removes the field codes, something like the ODF/RTF solution I guess (???), but working directly from the instant citation plugin for Word. This completely solves the speed problem in long documents!
    I don't have the faintest clue about the technical side of this, but I really wish this would become a feature in Zotero for Word.
  • Hi Stinus,

    this is already possible in Zotero. Go to the context menu in Word and klick on the broken chain symbol. In Word 2016 it is Add-Ins > chain symbol. This turns the whole text in a plain text in word formation. For my part i do not do this until the whole work is done and i would always keep a version with zotero-fields. Now I use master and sub documents as explained above.

    Good luck!
  • That is a different thing from what Stinus is asking for. Once field codes are removed from the document, it is dead to Zotero. Stinus wants to preserve ciation links, but postpone dynamic rendering.
  • @fbennett: thx for translating :-)
  • Same here. Zotero is disgustingly slow with large documents. I've submitting a report of the bug (debug ID: D1237409731). This bug seems to be a very old issue. Any chance of this finally being resolved?
  • yeah, we're getting closer to having the option to disable live-updating of citations (which will speed things up dramatically) but I can't tell you if that's going to be weeks or a couple more months.
  • Should be weeks
  • I would like to share my experience in dealing with a huge Zotero database (40.000 items and all together almost 20 GB). I have been suffering serious problems due to an extremely slow and unresponsive behaviour of the programme. However, I have fixed entirely the problem thanks to the excellent suggestion given by mibigo almost three years ago ( https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/comment/217305/#Comment_217305 ), namely

    1. I have installed the program "DB Browser for SQLite" (http://sqlitebrowser.org/)
    2. while checking that Zotero was not running;
    2. I have made a backup copy of the file zotero.sqlite that is placed in the Zotero folder,
    3. then I've opened the original file zotero.sqlite with "DB Browser for SQLite" (from the File tab)
    4. and I've used the function "Compact Database" (again under the File tab) on that same file.
    5. Once I have started Zotero once again, it has been able to load all the database in less than a minute: something I've never experienced for years!

    I wonder whether a "Compact database" fuction could or should be integrated within Zotero itself.
  • I confirm that “compact database” speeds up Zotero 4 as plugin and Zotero 5. No longer slow.
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