Improving Performance

I have a MacBook Pro 4 GB RAM. I also have Parallels, which I sometimes use. I have multiple DevonThink Pro databases, two of them in the multi GB range. Performance with DTP is not what I would hope for: opening takes quite awhile (tens of seconds), I see a lot of beach balls, etc. Certainly nothing like the performance Bill talks about.

The biggest database has 16 Million words, less than the 100 Million that seems to be a kind of rule-of-thumb limit.

Things I could do:

  1. Buy more RAM

  2. Move many big files from DTP to my hard disk and just index them in DTP. This would be a pain in the neck and it seemed to be easier all around to just dump stuff I collect into DTP directly rather than have to put it in one place and then import it into DTP. Still, it could be done.

  3. Split data bases (not convenient for my email archive or my library)

  4. Ask my IT folks for still-more latitude on the settings of my company’s virus-checker program (there is a setting related to the maximum time the program will spend scanning a particular file, I believe). Negotiating changes is a hassle, however, and my settings have already been relaxed once.

  5. Other.

I don’t really understand the parameters of the problem well. To provide information,I pulled up Activity Monitor. With pretty much everything I ever use at a given time open, it shows 3.96 GB used, with a few MB free. If I turn off Parallels, which I only sometimes use, I’m down to 3.7GB used, which is still close to 4.0.

Suggestions? Thanks. If it seems from my description that I should not be having troubles, then the culprit may still be the virus checker. However, if the problem is likely RAM, I suppose that’s only a bit more money,

I don’t know if this helps at all, but I normally have 5 databases open, the largest 2 (one indexed, one fully contained) have nearly 5 million words each. I am still running an antiquated 1.5GHz PowerBook with 1.5 GB of RAM and I don’t see the performance hits that you are reporting. I find DEVONthink Pro Office on my hardware to be extremely responsive in every respect other than OCR. When I run OCR on anything, then my hardware limitations are much more apparent.

Hi, laup. With as little free RAM as you were reporting, it’s clear that your slowdowns are because of use of Virtual Memory – data that would be processed in RAM (if enough were free) is being swapped back and forth between RAM and disk, with resulting slowdowns.

What happens if you restart the computer, with only the DEVONthink and a few applications such as your browser and Mail running? Unless your anti-virus software is hogging a lot of memory and/or doing a lot of continual processing, that should get better performance.

I don’t use anti-virus software at all and don’t think it’s necessary. But then, I rarely use MS Office, and my attitude is that if someone sends me a virus-plagued Word document, it’s very unlikely to affect me. If I then send that Word document to a Windows-using colleague, he should be running anti-virus software, so I won’t worry about him. :slight_smile:

But I understand that you are under company restrictions.

And “competent” mail providers offer some degree of virus checking so infected messages may be less likely to reach systems in the first place. I’ll infrequently get a notification from my ESP after a virus-laden message detection/rejection, reminding me that it’s still happening.

You might want to dig deeper into what Activity Monitor is reporting. Very often, as you suspected, DTP is an innocent bystander showing symptoms of something going on with other apps. There is lots of good advice for using Activity Montitor to diagnose performance (check out this basic Google search, or this article from ATPM). In particular, you’re looking for the apps that consistently use a large memory footprint or frequent spikes - especially virtual memory which causes swaps between hard memory and the disk, that can cascade into performance hits.

If you have configured lots of apps to load at login, then skinny down that list for a while and see what happens.

If you are using browser plugins, such as Acrobat Reader, then disable them for a while and see if performance improves. If you regularly open and edit programs in external editors, make sure they are shut down when you’re finished with them. (It’s easy to forget that a program is running if it’s minimized and out of sight.)

If DTP is consuming large amounts of memory, consider splitting your databases into smaller databases and opening fewer and/or smaller databases at a time. I know this is not always practical, but give it a thought. If you have many windows open at a time in DTP, then close the ones you are not using. If you are not using your browser, shut it down.

Any program, DTP included, gathers cruft as time goes on. Periodically shutting everything down and rebooting is helpful. For a while, open only one database at a time and see if there is a change in behavior.