What can I do to speed up QGIS panning and zoom in/out?

I did not include any layer information in my question because it is still subjective. It's just that I cherish having an open source gis package to work with at home. I use ArcGIS at work and it hangs up and dies from time to time but it seems to be just a hair faster when I want to pan and zoom. A few seconds makes a user experience.

EDIT: Adding data is slow. The dialogue box pops up just a bit faster in ArcGIS.

Maybe it's the machine, Intel Core i3?

  • 5
    @NigelLaw price does not correlate very well with software quality, e.g. R vs Matlab (which are both very good software packages, one costs 0 euro, the other 10.000 euro). Jan 6 '13 at 18:50
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    In addition to @NigelLaw, check if your computer is swapping memory. In addition, what CPU do you have? A 2.4 ghz i5 is totally different than a Pentium 4 of the same speed. Jan 6 '13 at 18:52
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    Could it be you simply use a better machine at work? It's really impossible to answer your question without specifics! Have you checked the related questions: gis.stackexchange.com/search?q=speed+up+qgis
    – underdark
    Jan 6 '13 at 18:55
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    @NigelLaw "against open source (free) gis package to work with at home" People use QGIS all over the world for uses out side of the home. QGIS isn't a toy.
    – Nathan W
    Jan 6 '13 at 20:45
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    Use absolute terms. Exactly how long does it take to pan and zoom? "Slow" is meaningless to anyone but yourself. You mentioned you're using a laptop. Does it use a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD)? Laptop HDDs are much slower than desktop HDDs, especially after they've started to fill up and become fragmented. What are the details about the layers you are accessing? How many are there? How big are they (number of features, size on disk)? How are they being accessed (stored locally, on the local area network or on the internet)? Do they have spatial indices built?
    – blah238
    Jan 7 '13 at 2:41

I have found the following helps to speed qgis up.

  1. Use a database for vector data - PostGIS or spatialite are both good for this, with spatial indexes on the tables.
  2. If you have to use shapefiles make sure you have built a spatial index in the properties dialog.
  3. Raster layers can show things up. I have found QGIS can be slow with jpg files. I converted my data to tif and built pyramids and tiles in the image and that made things fly. The answers to this question I posted a while back really helped me here QGIS and Raster Mapping in 'Seamless' layer.

These are just 3 examples of things that can help. I am sure there are others.

If you do get slow panning still, as suggested turn off those layers while you pan. You can also turn off the rendering of the map while you change styling. That can help if it is slow doing that.


Try limiting your selected layers to barest minimum while panning and zooming. Add layers back in when you have reached the position and zoom level you want.

  • +1 good point, but the OP has not provided any information as to how many layers he uses. It might be that the slowness also occurs with the simplest datasets. Jan 6 '13 at 18:53
  • @Paul your right, it is all very vague but we are doing our best to help :)
    – nigellaw
    Jan 6 '13 at 19:04
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    although the answers remain relatively useless without more information. Jan 6 '13 at 19:48

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