I am new to GIS and looking for the best solution for dealing with anything over 2GB as QGIS struggles on my laptop. I understand it's open source and enjoy using the platform. But need something with a bit more muscle.

My intended use at the moment is research and analysis.

I'm aware of tools like ESRI/ArcGIS but have never used them.

Are they more suited to larger datasets?

Or will running them from my laptop encounter the same issues, as the real problem is my processor (quad core i7)?

As a Geography student, I qualify for the ArcGIS student pricing which seems reasonable, so I'd be happy to go down that route.

There seems to be so many ESRI product options available that it's difficult to know where to start.

Is anyone able to point me in the right direction?

I've been learning how to use SQL, Python and JS and server-side tech. If custom built options are the best way forward I'm happy to explore that. It'll just take me a lot longer but it's all part of the learning process.

Either way I'm happy getting stuck in! Just looking for the best way to get started.

  • In my experience I have honestly found QGIS 3.10 to perform much better than ArcMap in terms of performance both in loading big files and handling larger datasets. That said, I have not tried ArcGIS Pro which might be worth a shot if available to you Apr 23, 2020 at 15:50
  • I'm about to start giving it a go via one of their (free) MOOCs. Will be interesting to see how it performs. But from other answers, it sounds like I have a lot to learn in how I use QGIS in the first place. Apr 23, 2020 at 17:25
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    Even to install the program (ArcGisPro), you need a powerful computer Apr 23, 2020 at 17:28
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    cheapest option here is to upgrade your laptop memory. Have open tiff files over 16GB in file size in QGIS without issue. (32GB of RAM installed)
    – Mapperz
    Apr 24, 2020 at 3:40

1 Answer 1


QGIS can handle rather large files (far larger than 2GB), as soon as you use it in a suitable manner. A GeoJSON file over 2GB could for example cause performance issues in QGIS or other software depending on other parameters (hardware, network capacity if the data is accessed remotelly, etc.).

You could try opting for file formats with spatial indexes such as GeoPackage. This could increase drastically the rendering time. See here how to do that.

For larger datasets, you should try usung a true spatial DBMS such as PostGIS. You would then have the possibility to display and access the data with QGIS. See more detail here. You should also use spatial indexing with PostGIS tables to increase performance.

  • Thank you. This all sounds really useful and I'll go check out all of those links. I'm using postgis with QGIS at the moment but maybe there's more I can do there to improve performance, like the spatial indexing. Apr 23, 2020 at 17:23

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