I have a 4cm resolution drone-derived image GeoTIFF that I am displaying in QGIS. The image is approx 600mb, I have a compressed version (BIGTIFF=YES, TILED=YES) approx 250mb. Both when loaded into QGIS (3.20) take a very long time to load.

Is there a simple way to speed this up? For example, if I load the KML version (128mb) into Google Earth, it's renders almost immediately.

1 Answer 1


You need create overviews/pyramids.

You can create them within QGIS in Layer properties / Pyramids. Make sure to use external format to avoid messing up your carefully created, already huge TIFF.

That being said, especially with such a huge file, and to have better control over compression of the overview compression etc., it's better to use the command line. See https://gdal.org/programs/gdaladdo.html (note GDAL is included under the hood in QGIS). You'll probably want to pick what overview levels you need and specify a COMPRESS_OVERVIEW configuration option.

  • BTW make sure you're using a recent version of QGIS, and especially GDAL under the hood. Not sure of the details, but I believe big TIFF support improved in GDAL significantly around v3.1(+-?)
    – Houska
    Jun 28, 2021 at 11:46

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