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  • Changes to free compile timeouts and servers

    Posted on September 18, 2023

    Today we’re announcing two changes to our free plan: free users’ compiles are moving to faster servers, and the free user compile timeout will be reduced.

    Why are we making changes?

    Compiling your LaTeX projects into PDFs is one of the most important things we do. And y’all compile a lot! As I write this, we have over 1000 server CPU cores busy compiling your LaTeX projects.

    It’s been wonderful to see this growth over the decade since we started Overleaf, when it ran on one tiny server, but all those cores are now a significant contributor to our running costs. To ensure we can keep growing—and compiling—we need to make some changes.

    What are we changing?

    We’ve taken a detailed look at user feedback about compile speeds, our compiler infrastructure, and its costs and are making two changes:

    1. We’re moving compiles for users on our free plan to newer, faster servers. This means that projects will compile and produce a PDF even faster than they do today.
    2. We’re reducing the maximum time that your project can take to compile to PDF if you’re on our free plan—the ‘free compile timeout’. We’re reducing it from one minute to twenty seconds, bearing in mind that the faster servers let us compile more stuff in the same amount of time.

    Overall, these changes will deliver a faster, better compiling experience for the vast majority of our free users. However, some free users with larger or slower-compiling projects will need to either adjust their projects to fit within the new timeout or consider upgrading to one of our premium plans, which come with longer timeouts. We provide detailed guidance on how you can make your project compile faster and avoid hitting timeouts in our documentation.

    When will these changes happen?

    We’re rolling out these changes gradually, so you may not see them right away. Some users’ projects are already compiling on the faster servers, and some haven’t moved yet but will in the coming weeks.

    The new free compile timeout will only apply to projects compiling on the new servers. If you signed up before today, September 18, 2023, and you’re working on a project that’s close to hitting the new timeout on the new servers, you’ll see a warning message that explains this. However, the new timeout won’t yet be applied to your projects. We’ll gradually start applying the new free compile timeout for all free users after October 6, 2023.

    Finally, I should make it clear that users on our premium plans will still benefit from a longer four-minute compile timeout. Premium users’ compiles also run on a dedicated pool of the fastest available servers, which are even faster than the new servers for our free user compiles. If you’re thinking about upgrading, we currently have a 15% discount on several premium plans to mark the start of a new school year, so now is a great time to upgrade.

    We believe these changes will be a benefit for many free users and will also let us continue to invest in Overleaf, making it better for all our users and providing the best platform to the communities we serve.

    We’re always looking for your input on our product and platform, so if you have feedback, do let us know.


    Dr. John Lees-Miller
    Co-founder, CTO

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