How many items does the Backlog support?

A contractor preloaded approximately 5000 items into their JIRA project.  The backlog page now takes approximately 30 seconds to load and is no longer usable.  We are using JIRA 7.4.2.  How many items should the Backlog be able to handle?  What should we do to make it usable.  They have tried quick filters but because the Backlog loads the rest of the items both Chrome and Firefox tend to hang.  The Open Issues works fine since it uses paging.  

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Comfortably, 300ish.  Beyond that you'll start finding it frustrating.

Humans struggle with 300 in a backlog, let alone the computers.  I'd look at splitting this backlog up - do you have some easy criteria you could use to divide the list up into manageable chunks?  At least temporarily. 

We've suggested using components to separate it but I'm not sure what else to do.  The project is kind of backwards in that they defined all the requirements and stories up front (hence the large number) and are now trying to be agile in their approach to building it.  

It's a good aspiration, but 5,000 issues in a backlog, even if the board could be tuned to handle it, is simply too large for a human team to grasp.

You definitely need to break it up, and a good way to do it is by having several boards that focus more clearly.   Components is one choice, but you probably want to slice it up in other ways too.

Due date is a good one if you've got any.  A board showing "due date in the next 4 weeks" for example.  Or boards selecting by priority, product area, team handling it, or even issue type!

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