Under the Hood: Importing from Papers 3 to Papers

We have had a lot of excited customers start the transition from Papers 3 to the new Papers app. However we have also seen some confusion about how the import process works. Specifically, people are wondering why the migration is taking so long. This article will go through each step and explain what the bottlenecks are as well as some potential solutions. 

Please do note that these solutions may not possible, but it should help explain the process.

First Part

This is where things get kicked off. As soon as you click on "Import Papers 3 Library" we start collecting the metadata of your Papers 3 library. This includes but is not limited to reference metadata, file locations, collections, smart collections, etc. This part locks the Papers application as we are pulling all of the data into our database. You will not be able to use your Papers 3 library or new Papers library while this process is going. This part of the process is 100% driven by hard drive speed. If you have a computer with a mechanical hard drive (HDD) this will be rather slow. If you have a solid state drive (SSD) you can expect things to be more speedy but please note that collecting your metadata is a CPU intensive task.

Quitting unneeded applications while this is running can speed this up.

Bottlenecks: Hard Drive read-write speed, System Resources (Multi-Tasking)

Suggested Solutions: Only run the importer. Close any unnecessary tasks that are running in the background. Close any harddrive resource-hungry applications (i.e. Time Machine)  


Two Can Keep A Secret

The second part of this is generating your metadata from Papers 3. We have all the metadata but we need to convert it to the new format that we have in the new Papers. This action should be pretty quick but if you have a lot of references it can take a few minutes. This process also imports the data into your library. 

Bottlenecks: Hard Drive read-write speed

Suggested Solutions: Close any harddrive resource-hungry applications (i.e. Time Machine)



Three Is A Crowd

Now in the third step, you will be able to see your library but it's not complete. At this point, you should see most of your Lists and Smart Lists and your references will be piling in at a rapid rate. However, you may have noticed there are no PDFs in your library, only the metadata. Your references are being uploaded and processed on our end. You should be able to go to app.readcube.com to see your references start filling in. You can click through your library but as you are still in the import the user interface (or UI) may be changing in real-time so please be patient as the rest of your data fills in. This also uses a lot of hard drive speed but now we are also using some of your network to upload your metadata.

Bottlenecks: Hard Drive read-write speed, Network upload speed

Suggested Solutions: Close any harddrive resource-hungry applications. Try and make sure your network is stable and you aren't using a lot of network-intensive applications elsewhere on your network (this may include streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix)



Four-Leaf Paper

Now to the final step! This can unfortunately be the longest one but this process can be paused and re-started if you need a break. At this stage, all of your PDFs are being uploaded into our Cloud so you can access them on any of our applications, be it the web, desktop app, or mobile. This step is largely based on your internet speed. While your download speed is important this part hinges on your upload speed; 1 GB of data can take up to 30 mins to upload on a 5 Mbps connection. So if you have 5 or 6 gigs of data you may be looking at a 3-hour transfer window on just the upload part. If you're unsure of what your speed is, you can visit speedtest.net to get an idea. Remember though, you are worried about upload speed not download speed. 

Bottlenecks: Network upload speed

Suggested Solutions:  Try and make sure your network is stable and you aren't using a lot of network-intensive applications(IE Web conferencing). Try to be on a network without VPNs or other corporate networks that might limit your speed.



You can close the app during this step; when you open the program next, it will start the upload process from where it left off. As always if you run into any problems please let us know! We would love to hear from you. We are excited for you to join us on this journey and you can always ask your questions by reaching out to support@papersapp.com.

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