I'm not sure if it is a good idea to maintain a single large bibtex database or if I should split it into multiple smaller ones. I have compiled a very large India-specific database (over 100,000 records) from various sources.

So, what are the most important positives and negatives for one approach or the other one? Is there any difference in how bibtex and biblatex treat big data files? Are there any threats to be considered with either approach?

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    Hi and welcome to TeX.sx. I think that is completetly up to you. If you can handle a big file like this, ok then. If you prefer to split it up according to different field/topics, ok as well. There is no right or wrong way here. – Johannes_B Sep 16 '14 at 8:04
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    As already mentioned it's up to you, but if you do decide to keep all your references in a single file, make sure you provide a trimmed-down version of your .bib file if you ever have to send your document source to journals etc. Production editors tend not to be overly amused by .bib files that contain thousands of entries for a document that only has twenty or so citations. – Nicola Talbot Sep 16 '14 at 9:22
  • I tried to re-word the question to make it more objective. I believe it can be re-opened. Of course, opinions on this (edit, re-opening) are welcome. – yo' Sep 30 '14 at 9:48
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    If you use Biber, you might find it takes a while to get through so large a database. (I'd test a compelete run to see. How long does it take to print the entire bibliography? LaTeX-BibTeX-LaTeX-LaTeX and LaTeX-Biber-LaTeX.) – jon Mar 20 '15 at 12:44

Personally, I have two different bib-files; one for publications by others and one for my own publication list. But even this is just a matter of convenience because the entry-groups differ between the two for a more convenient working with the bib-files themselves, not considering any LaTeX compilation.

My main bib-file is well in access of 1000 entries, and I never experienced any problems with any compiler (BibTeX, BibTeX8, BibLaTeX) so far. I have never heard of any instance where such problems occurred either. True, there is a limit for the number of possible bibliography entries (defined by bytes to be processed) in BibTeX, and also in BibTeX8 (altough in the latter you can expand that limit to such large values that I did not run into problems with my Diploma thesis which contained tons of citations). But this has to do with the number of citations in your document and not the file size of the bib-file, so if you run into this problem it would persist even if you would split your bib-file. As far as I know, BibLaTeX does not have such limits anymore at all.

Another thing to consider is how easy it is to merge entries from multiple bib-files into one bibliography. In BibLaTeX, where you can declare several source files easily and create the bibliography by an altogether different command, this is easily done. In BibTeX and BibTeX8 it is to my knowledge not so easy (if possible at all) to compile information from several bib-files into one reference list.

So I would say is it mainly a matter of personal taste, probably also depneding on how much you are using the bib-files directly---it can make sense to have several if the entries are very different in topic. Compilation will work with either version at least in BibLaTeX, but may require additional packages or merging of bib-files for BibTeX/BibTeX8.

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