Any advantage with 64 bit machine reading large PDF files?

Posted on 2010-09-23
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Our business is in the building industry.  We have many clients who have moved to electronic delivery of architectural plans.  Some clients send us huge PDF files (50 to well over 100+ mbit) containing hundreds of 42" x 36" (native size) pages.  On our WinXP 32 bit machines, even maxed out with ram (some 2gig, some 3.5gig, some single, some dual processor) the computer "chokes" on PDF files this large.  Scrolling and page cycling are like watching paint dry.  Often Adobe Reader just freezes. I presume this is caused by the system paging to virtual memory since the computer cannot load the entire document into memory.  Has anyone tried using a Win7, 64 bit computer with gobs of ram in an effort to resolve that issue?  If so did it work?
Question by:a1doors1
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 33746941
We use a program called SolidWorks 2010 that creates three dimensional CAD drawings with hundreds of assemblies.  We are strictly XP Pro here and up until recently 32 bit.  i decided to get 8GB RAM into one of the computers and upgrade to XP pro 64 bit.  it was a breeze after that.  Now all of our draftsmen and egngineers are 64 bit.  Definitely worth the effort.

I would recommend a trial on one of your existing computers with 8GB (2x4GB or 4x2GB depending on computer) and see what happens.  If the file is only 3.5 GB it should load completely into memory, now you are loading part of it into memory and relying on pagefile to load the remainder if you only have 4GB RAM.  Or even worse 2GB.

Author Comment

ID: 33747207
Does SolidWorks output to PDF?  If so do your machines choke on those resultant PDF's?  What are the native page size of those PDF'S?   I'm thinking that even though the initial file size of the PDF is less than the total installed ram on the machines, the "choking" has something to do with how Adobe Reader handles huge native size pages (the 42" x 36" I mentioned earlier).

Expert Comment

by:Ryan Smith
ID: 33747314
More ram will always help.  You can try a system with 8GB but I think you'll still have problems.  You can look into a program called PDF compressor but they are usually very expensive programs.
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 33747373
It does produce pdfs, but no where near the size you are talking about.  The p in pdf stands for portable.  3.5GB is not what I would consider portable.  I am wondering if the files are being created incorrectly.  We have a Xerox scanner that can either make a 2MB or a 116Kb file depennding on the scanner settings.

My point earlier is this, the 64bit XP pro (not allowed to go with W7 yet) handles huge assembly files with ease 3 to 4 GB and hundreds of parts.

If you computers are XP and under warrantee from Dell or HP then they will probably supply the XP 64 bit media, either free or for $10.  Give it a whirl.

Expert Comment

ID: 33747417
I have Windows 7 pro x64.  One of the reasons I went with 64Bit on my PC, and on all new servers, is to get past the 4GB memory limitation.  Acrobat runs great on my machine.

Another thing you can do to slim down PDFs is to save them with limited previous version compatibility.
In other words if you're saving a file in Acrobat 9, don't allow it to save it with compatibility too far back (Acrobat 8, Acrobat 7, ...)
Every time Acrobat stores files in such a way that older versions of Acrobat are compatible it balloons the file size.

Another workaround would be to:
  Setup a Windows Terminal Server / Remote Desktop Services using Windows 2008 R2 Standard x64 and plenty of RAM
  When you need to view LARGE PDFs you can do that from the server.
  Optionally you could even publish Adobe Acrobat directly from the server as if it were installed locally on your PC.

Author Comment

ID: 33747791
Thanks to everyone responding!  It's appreciated.  There are a couple of things that perhaps I did not explain adequately:
1-We have no control over the way the PDF files we receive are created.
2-The files we receive are always smaller than the total amount of ram on any of the 32 bit machines we have.
So... I don't quite understand why Acrobat Reader chokes.  The only thing I can think of is the large native page size of the original document we are trying to view.  We have an "average" amount of processes running on any given machine at any given time.  I have verified, through Task Manager, that there is sufficent available physical ram to load the entire PDF but they still choke.  I hope that clarifies my question.  It may be that I will just have to experiment with a 64bit machine and see what happens.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 33747899
you need to remember that programs that are running in the background are also consuming part of the ram, so you may not have enough ram to open up the pdf files and the system is running the page sys file off the harddrive in order to open and view the files. You are definitely better off going to a 64 bit machine, not only will it read data in 64 bit chunks it will also go past the 3.5 mb bearier of a 32 bit machine.

Expert Comment

by:Ryan Smith
ID: 33747971
If you want, you can email me one of the files. I have a Quad Core, Windows 7 X64 with 8GB ram.
LVL 32

Accepted Solution

aleghart earned 500 total points
ID: 33750845
The PDF file size does not always accurately indicate performance.

For instance, you may have 100MB PDF file that is a lossy-compressed JPEG with a lot of rotated text.  The giant JPEG file could expand to over a gigbyte in size of rendered data equivalent, and the hundreds (thousands) of rotated text items will take more time to render as you zoom and scroll.

The DWG files saved out as PDFs that I got during a construction project were never more than 5-10MB.  The final page size was around 24x36", and all of the text was converted to vector art.  We always kept one sheet per PDF file.  So, M-1 was a single PDF.  M-2 was another PDF.  That kept file size down, as well as made it easier to get updates to just one page.

The mechanics of the PDF file are the most important.  How is the file constructed?

Sorry, in short, no difference for me between 32-bit and 64-bit on the same machine.  32-bit WinXP, 32-bit Win7, 64-bit Win7 all worked the same with the same version of Acrobat Pro 9.  But, my PDF files weren't near 100MB.  Biggest ones were 30-40MB.

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