Slow network syncing

I run zcashd on an Ubuntu system but I don't often sync with the network more than once per week. The last time I did this the process was very slow and I was often looking at the System Monitor as I waited. My wallet was roughly 3500 blocks behind and by the time it had synced almost 1GB of data had been downloaded. Is the Zcash blockchain growing that much in a week? If not, why is so much data required during syncing and why has syncing become so slow?

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the last week had those crazy big transactions when Poloniex was doing all those wallet sweeps, and its the verification time for them that's slowing down syncing.