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I'm currently working on a dataset with 3.8m records. I have a very simple expression to update a field that I want to execute using the Field Calculator, while having the Attribute Table open.

Do I need to wait for the Loading Features prompt to complete for every Field Calculator operation? This is very slow on my computer.

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Yup, you would need to wait for the edits to complete before you can save them. You could follow some helpful advice as mentioned in the following post:

mapping over a million points using QGIS

Such as:

  • Deleting unneccessary fields (which will initially take time but will speed things up eventually)

  • Import your data as a database in PostGIS. (recommended when working with shedloads of data)

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    I've already looked at cutting down the size of fields, and the number of fields in the attribute table. It still takes a long time. I will look into PostGIS, hopefully that helps out. – TwoPunchMan Dec 11 '15 at 0:39

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