I have originally asked this question in this older thread. As it differs somehow from the original question and might be a question more people have been (or still are…) dealing with, I move this to a new topic.
Since I have started using obsidian as my main working environment, I have been dealing with the question of how to handle pdf literature attachments and where to store them. I would be interested in some shared experience of others: how do you handle your pdfs? Do you store them inside or outside your obsidian vault?
Currently, I still have a folder external to my vault under which I store all of my pdf attachments. I use Zotero in combination with zotfile, BetterBibtex and mdnotes for organizing my literature and - if required - extracting highlights and exporting them to my vault. The corresponding pdfs are linked in my vault so that I can open them in my external pdf viewer.
In any case, I will keep zotero as my main application for organizing references. Yet, I am still dealing with the question if I should move my attachments folder to my vault. This question became more important again as the new internal pdf viewer of obsidian now allows me to select text and copy and paste it directly to my active note - and there might be some possibilities that obsidian’s pdf viewer might even further develop in the future, allowing me for example to highlight text and extract my highlights directly into my note. Even if this feature won’t come, there is already the pdf extract highlights plugin I can use for that.
Moving my attachments folder to my obsidian vault would have several advantages:
- pdfs are opened faster
- Links to pdfs are inserted in a faster and smoother way
- I don’t have to switch between different applications but can have my working note and my source file side by side
- The backlink pane shows me all my notes that already include citations of a special source or are somehow related to it
Yet, to date, I am still hesitating. The main reason is:
My attachments folder contains several thousand of pdf files, summing up to an overall size of currently 10 GB - and it is continuously growing. I am afraid that this could massively slow down obsidian (to be honest, I still haven’t completely understood obsidian’s caching process… Does obsidian, for example, only cache file names of other file formats like pdf or also content?).
Have others already experimented with such a large attachment folder? Which solutions have you found?
A kind of compromise could be (maybe as a feature request) that obsidian would allow to “connect” to an external attachments folder, thus allowing to open external pdfs in its integrated viewer. Could this be a meaningful option others of you would like to see? Or doesn’t that make any sense at all?
The overall question came up again today when I moved a couple of pdf files (not my literature files, but some work sheets and information material) to a subfolder of my vault around 40 files maybe, including two videos. Since about half an hour now obsidian is caching (?) in the background and became virtually unusable (at least, reacting extremely slow) for me, continuously eating around 2 GB of RAM…
Summed up, some general questions I would like to discuss with others:
- Where do you store your attachment files?
- What pros and cons can you add to the ones already mentioned in my post?
- What were your experiences with storing large collections inside your obsidian vault? Does it slow down obsidian or is the problem solved once the initial caching process has finished?
- Would you like a feature I proposed above? Or doesn’t that make any sense to you?
Thanks for any advice/proposition/experience!