Slowness when importing *anything*

Hi, I am experiencing delays of 15-60 seconds when importing anything into my database. Large files create longer delays, but even a 250kb Word file takes a painful amount of time to appear.

I’ve tried rebuilding the database – any other suggestions to optimize performance? It is just under 6 GB and mostly PDFs that I have scanned. My computer is a MacBook Pro Core Duo 2 GHz.


My guess is that you have run out of free physical RAM, and are heavily into use of Virtual Memory swap files resulting from the computer’s need to swap data back and forth between RAM and the hard drive. As hard drive read/write speeds are orders of magnitude slower than in RAM, slowdowns occur.

As I recall, your model of the MacBook Pro is limited to a maximum of 2 GB RAM. If you currently have less than that installed, you might look at increasing installed RAM.

Restarting the computer should temporarily speed up operations. Reducing the number of other open applications can also free up RAM for your database.

You might consider splitting your database into two or more smaller ones, based on topical or historical content of the databases. As searches can be performed across multiple databases, you can treat your databases as information ‘Lego blocks’, opening just those you need for a particular purpose.

More recent models of the MacBook Pro can handle 4 to 6 GB of RAM, and current iMacs can hold as much as 16 GB RAM. As more and more applications go 64-bit under Snow Leopard, Apple is adapting its hardware to permit increased addressing of RAM by future applications. DEVONthink is still running in 32-bit mode (addressing up to 4 GB RAM), but in the future will go 64-bit.

Thanks. My next computer will have more RAM.

Your answer would make a bit more sense to me if I were experiencing slow searches – but they are still reasonably fast. Why does adding a file to the database take such a big hit on RAM usage?

Very simple ideas on why a computer might be slow:

You might have run out of physical memory. Open Activity Monitor in Utilities Folder, click on System Memory. When the blue wraps around to the top, it’s time to quit some apps or reboot (usually, for me, reboot).

Apple Spotlight might decide to start indexing your material. Look for mdworker taking up a lot of cycles. No solution to this that I know of.

Something else might have decided to run. Look in Activity Monitor for an application that is consuming a lot of the CPU.

In your case, adding material might prompt Devon Think and Spotlight to index it, and if you were out of memory, then everything would get very slow.