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Old 10-02-2012, 09:32 AM   #1
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Calibre Speedup

Sometimes people complain about calibre being slow. And it is indeed possible to make calibre slow down to a crawl by unknowingly asking calibre to do things that are very demanding if you have a large library.

Here are some things I have done to speed up calibre on my computer. A lot if this information comes from other threads here on the forum.

I haven't run any benchmarks, so I can't say exactly how much faster things are. But I think calibre is fast enough for me now...

Custom columns

(See: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=188312)
  • Remove custom columns you don't need.
  • Avoid having custom columns that depend on other columns.
  • Avoid showing custom columns that depend on other columns in the tag browser.
  • Don't sort on custom columns that depend on other columns.

Custom columns that depend on other columns have to be "calculated" when you use them. For example when searching, sorting or using them in the tag browser. If you have a lot of books this can be very slow.

A special case is the "Formats" column many have and need. If you search or sort on formats calibre will scan every folder and book file in your library to figure out exactly what formats you actually have. It can be VERY time consuming if you have a large library on a slow disk.

Instead you can ask calibre to use stored information about the formats already available in the database. It will be much faster. But it may also be unsafe, since you then may not discover that files for some formats are missing, until it is too late.

To use the already existing stored data about the formats, in the database, change the custom column for formats to use {:'approximate_formats()'} instead of {formats}. If you often sort on formats then it will speed up calibre a lot. But at the cost of not warning when files are missing. You can perhaps compensate by checking the library more often.

Temp folder on the fastest disk

(See: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=189593)

A more advanced speed-up is to make sure that the temp-folder for your operating system is placed on your fastest disk. Not everyone is comfortable to do this, it may make your OS unusable if you make mistakes...

As I understand it, when calibre converts formats, updates metadata, saves books to disk or sends books to a device, it first creates a temporary copy of the book in the temp folder. Depending on the format, the book may also be "exploded/unzipped," metadata changed, and finally the book may be zipped again. Then the book is copied to the new destination and finally the book in the temp folder is deleted. Also a temporary metadata.db may be created and updated in the temp folder.

Obviously it is best if all this happens on the fastest disk available.
I use Linux and have created a RAM-disk using tempfs and mount \tmp there. I have 16GB of RAM and use up to 8 GB of that as temp folder. It seems to speed up saves, send to device and bulk updates of metadata quite a bit.

Place metadata.db on a fast disk

(See: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=189714)

Again this is not something everyone is comfortable with. It can be risky, and you may loose metadata, if you make mistakes.

I have my calibre library on a NAS. It is noticiable slower than my local SSD-disk. So I moved my metadata.db on to my local SSD and placed a symlink in the calibre library, where metadata.db used to be, to the moved metadata.db.


----

Do you know some other ways to speed up calibre? Please add more suggestions!
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Last edited by Adoby; 10-02-2012 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adoby View Post
… Do you know some other ways to speed up calibre? Please add more suggestions!
Here are a few:
  • Set Antivirus auto-scan to exclude calibre libraries.
  • Add RAM to the computer.
  • Adjust calibre preference settings that affect performance: Job priority (Behavior); Max simultaneous jobs (Miscellaneous); Limit the max simultaneous conversion/news jobs to available cores (Miscellaneous). I've got job priority = normal, ticked checkbox for limit max simultaneous jobs to the available CPU cores, and max simultaneous conversion/news jobs set to 6 for a quadcore i7, based on some testing of bulk conversions while a couple other applications were running, but I don't know if these are really ideal settings for a quadcore.
  • Translate any complex template programming into general program mode, and ensure the tweak compile_gpm_templates = true, which is the default, so calibre automatically compiles those template programs.
  • In large libraries use column lookup names in all searches, including saved searches, to achieve significantly faster search results than searches without column lookup names.

Last edited by unboggling; 10-19-2012 at 09:04 PM. Reason: clarify
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:24 PM   #3
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Adoby and unboggling, those are some very helpful suggestions. Thanks for posting.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
I'm on OS X. I haven't used symlinks or RAM disk yet, but will try them with calibre when I get some time. My current Macbook Pro tops out at 8GB RAM. It'd be good to know how to do symlinks and RAM disks because I'd like to move to a computer with 16GB RAM soon. I'd prefer 32GB but new Macbook Pros now top out at 16GB and I don't particularly want a Mac Pro.
For me various calibre operations are fast enough, without setting up temp folders on ramdisk. But out of curiousity I researched symlinks and ramdisks. Learned how to do both, generally. Also researched using them specifically on OS X.

There is some discussion in various forums that symlinks in OS X often get corrupted/broken and cause more problems than they're worth.

I tried a script for setting up RAMdisk for temp files at startup. Tried various ramdisk sizes. There was no noticable speedup of calibre bulk conversions. The ramdisk-tempfile-startup script in these blog articles doesn't use symlinks:
Exactly which temp folders on OS X Mountain Lion could be put on ramdisk to speed up various calibre operations? Do all calibre operations that use temp files use the same temp folder(s)?

Has anyone successfully sped up calibre operations such as bulk conversions by putting relevant temp folders used by calibre onto ramdisk, specifically on OS X Mountain Lion?

At this point, I don't have enough information about the temp folders used by calibre - or enough Unix knowledge/skill - to proceed. Since calibre is already fast enough for me, I don't have much motivation to proceed either. But when I get a new computer with SSD or Flash internal drive, I'll have more motivation, to extend the life of the drive. Perhaps a Unix-smart MountainLion-savvy calibre superuser or developer may have some suggestions.

Last edited by unboggling; 10-11-2012 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:04 PM   #5
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@unboggling - Symlinks (known as Softlinks in Unix) break if the name of the target or its location is changed - in Unix and in Windows. Given that OS/X is BSD Unix at its core, then I assume its the same.

But if you only use them for files such as metadata.db's then you're unlikely to change the name or location, and if you do, then hopefully you wouldn't do it unconsciously - i.e. you would remove the old symlinks and create a new ones referencing new targets on your SSD in the Calibre library directories (folders).

I suspect the optimal performance related preferences will depend on how one uses Calibre and one's overall work patterns. My settings (also quad core) are - Priority=Low, Max Jobs=1 and Use all cores=unchecked. My perception is that things go faster - overall.

To improve start up times I've seen the following recommended a couple of times - 'close the tag browser before closing Calibre' . But I've never figured out how to do that - does anyone know what it means? Start up times aren't an issue for me - so I never bothered to ask.

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Old 10-12-2012, 09:08 PM   #6
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@BR, Thanks for responding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BetterRed View Post
@unboggling - Symlinks (known as Softlinks in Unix) break if the name of the target or its location is changed - in Unix and in Windows. Given that OS/X is BSD Unix at its core, then I assume its the same.
Yes, theoretically. But those other-forum comments I mentioned said that OS X was sometimes breaking the symlinks without the user moving or renaming target after setting up the symlink.

Quote:
But if you only use them for files such as metadata.db's then you're unlikely to change the name or location, and if you do, then hopefully you wouldn't do it unconsciously - i.e. you would remove the old symlinks and create a new ones referencing new targets on your SSD in the Calibre library directories (folders).

I suspect the optimal performance related preferences will depend on how one uses Calibre and one's overall work patterns. My settings (also quad core) are - Priority=Low, Max Jobs=1 and Use all cores=unchecked. My perception is that things go faster - overall.
I didn't test symlink with metadata.db. At present I only have internal and external hard disk drives (not SSD or Flash), but when I get a new computer with SSD or Flash I'll definitely try that. I don't want to put metadata.db on a ramdisk. Meanwhile when I have time I'll retest bulk conversions using your performance settings.

Quote:
To improve start up times I've seen the following recommended a couple of times - 'close the tag browser before closing Calibre' . But I've never figured out how to do that - does anyone know what it means? Start up times aren't an issue for me - so I never bothered to ask.

BR
Not necessary anymore. One of the people who said that in the past was me. In the calibre GUI, bottom right corner, show or hide the Tag Browser with the little button that looks like a tag. I believe last year, hiding the tag browser before calibre quit and subsequently restarted decreased startup time, in relation to composite columns, but there were some changes since then. I retested this 1 or 2 weeks ago, after ensuring that each composite column had an unchecked checkbox for Show in tags browser (Preferences -> Add your own columns). Results: it didn't matter whether Tag Browser was shown or hidden during calibre startup.

Last edited by unboggling; 10-12-2012 at 10:36 PM. Reason: clarify
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:11 PM   #7
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@BR, Thanks for responding.

Yes, theoretically. But those other-forum comments I mentioned said that OS X was sometimes breaking the symlinks without the user moving or renaming target after setting up the symlink.
Yeah, well as Mandy said - 'They would say that, wouldn't they'.

I'm no great fan of Apple, but even I don't believe they would have broken softlinks - I think they've been in Unix since the get-go, like most of Unix probably inherited from Multics - internally they're just a text file.

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I don't want to put metadata.db on a ramdisk. Meanwhile when I have time I'll retest bulk conversions using your performance settings.
IMO - anyone who puts persistent data on a RAM disk has rocks in their head. Temporary files, swap files etc fine - but not stuff you expect to be around tomorrow.

Re performance settings : I often have other heavy duty things going on - Matlab models, software builds, video conversions. When I do a bulk operations in Calibre I am happy to go away and do something else, read newsfeeds, debug code, watch stock tickers - have lunch. If the Calibre job takes 20 minutes rather than 10 that's cool, there's always another fish to fry

Quote:
Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
One of the people who said that in the past was me. In the calibre GUI, bottom right corner, show or hide the Tag Browser with the little button that looks like a tag. I believe last year, hiding the tag browser before calibre quit and subsequently restarted decreased startup time, in relation to composite columns, but there were some changes since then. I retested this 1 or 2 weeks ago, after ensuring that each composite column had an unchecked checkbox for Show in tags browser (Preferences -> Add your own columns). Results: it didn't matter whether Tag Browser was shown or hidden during calibre startup.
I didn't realise the close tag browser suggestion came from you mate.

I was looking for something on the wrong side, near the tag browser - which on my setup is on the left. Its got a keyboard shortcut toggle too - very handy I'm always wishing the book list was wider

A couple of days ago I discovered that Word has keyboard shortcuts for ellipsis and em - I've been using Word for 20+ years - I'm a slow learner

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Old 10-12-2012, 10:32 PM   #8
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Yeah, well as Mandy said - 'They would say that, wouldn't they'.
Yeah, I wondered that too, some of them would blame OS X for broken symlinks that they broke themselves. But I'm not sure that accounts for all of it.

Quote:
Re performance settings : I often have other heavy duty things going on - Matlab models, software builds, video conversions. When I do a bulk operations in Calibre I am happy to go away and do something else, read newsfeeds, debug code, watch stock tickers - have lunch. If the Calibre job takes 20 minutes rather than 10 that's cool, there's always another fish to fry
I usually don't have any other cpu intensive processes running at the same time as calibre.

Quote:
A couple of days ago I discovered that Word has keyboard shortcuts for ellipsis and em - I've been using Word for 20+ years - I'm a slow learner

BR
I've been using Word 20+ years too and I didn't know that.
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:04 PM   #9
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Yeah, I wondered that too, some of them would blame OS X for broken symlinks that they broke themselves. But I'm not sure that accounts for all of it.
The alternative is to believe Apple broke BSD's softlinks.

They're like the people who say that Windows Named Streams (known as file forks in Unix) are places where virus's hide out - show me one I say - never got to see one.

But so what if a symlink/softlink gets broken, its only a link, the data's still there, just make a new link.

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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
I've been using Word 20+ years too and I didn't know that.
See attachment - its from Word 2007 Insert Symbols->Special Characters Tab

BR
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Old 10-13-2012, 12:52 AM   #10
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In April I noticed searchbar searches went from seconds to a minute or more.
Now I really try to spell it right the first time.

I am not sure whether it was an update or library size thing although I know library size contributes. Search is much faster on a smaller library, but I only added 6 books and deleting several hundred had no effect. I also deleted (from a copy of library) all custom columns. no difference.

Library loads in seconds, custom columns built on other columns calculate instantly.

I recently split my library by genre as I am tryng to get a better grip on the genre thing. (I am sure there are better ways to do this but was easiest on my somewhat elderly brain) But after applying a base genre to all books I rebuilt to one library.

Better to have one slower library than 10 fast ones

Pretty sure it is not hardware related as works the same with I7 desktop 12G Ram and I5 laptop 8 G Ram.

Any insight appreciated.

Helen
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Old 10-13-2012, 02:49 AM   #11
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Helen

I've always noticed that if I do an unqualified search for say "quantitative" then it takes a few minutes with a lot of disk I/O, but it seems to be a one time delay. If after that I do another search for say "subprime" its back in a flash with very little disk I/O.

Tomorrow the first search will be 'slow', so I'm guessing that SQLLite builds a temporary index for unqualified searches - i.e. when its not searching via Tag Browser items (author, publisher etc) only.

My unqualified search terms are usually in the summary metadata and titles, I don't bother much with Keyword Tags - whats in the summary is usually good enough for me. Beyond that I use Windows Search.

I have a library of 3500 documents - not many books as such, mainly research papers from governments, academe, consultants, ngo's etc.

BR
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
I recently split my library by genre as I am tryng to get a better grip on the genre thing. (I am sure there are better ways to do this but was easiest on my somewhat elderly brain) But after applying a base genre to all books I rebuilt to one library.
...~~~...
Any insight appreciated.
As BetterRed stated qualified searches such as this one authors:"=Ilona Andrews" should go quickly.

You could limit your general searches by going to Preferences - Searching and editing the "Columns that non-prefixed searches are limited to" box. I limit my searches to title, authors, tags, series, and publisher. By removing comments you can drastically increase the speed of your non-prefixed searches.

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Old 10-13-2012, 07:25 AM   #13
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I use non-qualified searches all the time and don't see 'Minutes' go by
on a lowly P4 with 4K books in the Library

I do have the setting mentioned by DoctorOhh down to 3 fields
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:13 AM   #14
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Thanks for the suggestion. I will try it.

I unwittingly exagerated the time it is usually only about 30 seconds, sometimes longer. Seems longer

Helen

Tried it and at least twice as fast

Thanks Helen

Last edited by speakingtohe; 10-13-2012 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:19 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorOhh View Post
...You could limit your general searches by going to Preferences - Searching and editing the "Columns that non-prefixed searches are limited to" box. I limit my searches to title, authors, tags, series, and publisher. By removing comments you can drastically increase the speed of your non-prefixed searches.
Quote:
Originally Posted by theducks View Post
I use non-qualified searches all the time and don't see 'Minutes' go by
on a lowly P4 with 4K books in the Library

I do have the setting mentioned by DoctorOhh down to 3 fields
Ah, thanks for reminding me of that! I forgot about that one. I'd had that turned off for almost a year to force myself to remember to use column lookup names, so when I misspelled a lookup name in search box, or forgot to use the # for a custom column, results took a long time while I couldn't do anything else. So I just turned it on, and limited it to authors, series, title, and #people (alternate author names). Now recovery from those mistakes is much faster!
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