Why is pandas.to_datetime slow for non standard time format such as ‘2014/12/31’

This is because pandas falls back to dateutil.parser.parse for parsing the strings when it has a non-default format or when no format string is supplied (this is much more flexible, but also slower).

As you have shown above, you can improve the performance by supplying a format string to to_datetime. Or another option is to use infer_datetime_format=True

Apparently, the infer_datetime_format cannot infer when there are microseconds. With an example without those, you can see a large speed-up:

In [28]: d = '2014-12-24 01:02:03'

In [29]: c = re.sub('-', "https://stackoverflow.com/", d)

In [30]: s_c = pd.Series([c]*10000)

In [31]: %timeit pd.to_datetime(s_c)
1 loops, best of 3: 1.14 s per loop

In [32]: %timeit pd.to_datetime(s_c, infer_datetime_format=True)
10 loops, best of 3: 105 ms per loop

In [33]: %timeit pd.to_datetime(s_c, format="%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S")
10 loops, best of 3: 99.5 ms per loop

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