I'm trying to apply the 'join attributes by nearest' function on a quite big dataset: A multipolygon layer with ~ 415.000 features (1.11GB) and a point layer with ~ 305.000 features (~320 MB). Just to give you an idea on the data, I have added a small snippet of how the data looks like.

enter image description here

As can be seen the polygon layer is pretty complex, and I think, this is the problem.

I tried the 'join attributes by nearest' on a small clip of the data, and it works like a charm and gives exactly the output I need. However, when I run it with the whole data set, the first 50% are pretty fast (it takes a couple of seconds to reach up to 50%), and then it gets more or less stuck and afterwards takes ~ 1h per 1%.

I know this is a broad question, however, if someone has experience how to accelerate the processing of this function (join attributes by nearest) I would be very glad to hear about! I'm of course also open for other methods to use for this kind of problem.

I hope this question doesn't get closed as I understand, that it is relatively broad. I just hoped, there would be someone who had to solve a similar problem with the same function already, too.

Windows 10
QGIS 3.28 Firenze

  • 2
    Try the three steps in: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/440360/… and set a max distance
    – BERA
    May 23, 2023 at 10:34
  • 1
    I've also had problems with large datasets using QGIS and I've only been able to solve them using PostGIS.
    – jpinilla
    May 23, 2023 at 10:38
  • Thank you so much for this fast answer :) I will come back when I tried it out!
    – i.i.k.
    May 23, 2023 at 10:39
  • 2
    Ensure also that both layers have spatial indexes
    – Matt
    May 23, 2023 at 10:52
  • 1
    @BERA Thank you very much, the data now, after using 'multipart to singlepart' on the polygon layer it only took ~ 3-4 MIN when applying the 'join by nearest' !! Before that, the process was running for almost 17 HOURS when I stopped it. Thank you so, so much :) Why does this have such a better performance?
    – i.i.k.
    May 23, 2023 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


Based on the answer of @BERA I first applied the 'Multipart to Singlepart' tool on the Polygon layer, and then creating spatial indices for both layer. When I then apply the 'join attributes by nearest' it only takes 3-4 min to get the result.

As I had set spatial indices also before applying the Multipart-to-Singlepart'-tool, and the performance was still very bad, the real difference here makes creating singlepart-Polygons.

Another update for even bigger data: After applying 'Multipart to singlepart' apply 'subdivide', then again 'multipart to singlepart' on the subdivided singleparts, and of course, in the end, create a spatial index.

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