To pull content from a PROD instance back to a QA instance I would highly recommend using Sitecore Sidekick - Content Migrator
This tool uses Rainbow Serialization under the hood to quickly migrate content from one Sitecore database to another.
From Jeffs blog:
The Content Migrator will move content in a multi-threaded way. The system is designed to be as fast as the Sitecore Item API can go. When the operation starts it spins up two separate thread pools, one for transmission of serialized item data from the remote server and another to ingest that data into Sitecore. Since the inhibiting factor here is the rate in which Sitecore can write item data to the database you can virtually eliminate the penalty of pulling items over the network in most cases (the obvious exceptions being transmission over a slow connection).
A test was done for speed vs a standard Sitecore Package. The migration and package contained 24k items:
The results were:
- Content migrator: 41 seconds
- Sitecore Package Install: 70 minutes
So it is a much faster option than standard Sitecore packages.
Cons: You would have to install Sidekick on both PROD and QA servers, I don't really view this as a con because its a great tool, but for some this could cause a problem.