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Thread started 27 Jul 2010 (Tuesday) 21:58
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Lightroom Catalogs on External Hard Drives?

 
tahant
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Jul 27, 2010 21:58 |  #1

Please help me…I’m getting very frustrated from hearing about, and reading about, different places to put my master lightroom catalog(s) and the corresponding image files. I've searched these forums, but haven't found any threads relating to my specific question.

Here is my dilemma…I have my master catalog on my C drive on my laptop. Lightroom put it there by default when I first started using Lightroom (Lightroom 2.7). My C drive has filled up very quickly, so I think I would like to move the master catalog and put it on one of my empty 1TB portable external hard drives. Right now, I have all my image files (DNG) on external hard drives and would like to learn how to tie everything together and still keep it portable.

Option 1
I put the master catalog for all image files on one external hard drive, and put all the corresponding image files on other external hard drives (probably by year). This would allow me to store a much larger master catalog in one place. It will eventually fill up, but hopefully I'll have worked out the kinks by then.

Option 2
I put the each year’s master catalog and its corresponding image files all on the same external hard drive. This would allow me to access each years image files (and the master catalog for it) as needed. In theory, each year will get its own hard drive with the master catalog and the corresponding image files…I hope I’m explaining this correctly.

Option 3
I'm open to any and all ideas you may have for a better way to handle this :D

So…what is the general consensus…one master catalog, or many catalogs? and why? I’d really love to hear your opinions.

Also, what's the best (easiest) way to move the master catalog?

Thanks for any help you can provide...Theresa


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tahant
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Jul 27, 2010 22:16 |  #2

OK, I just for the record, I finished reading the similar threads below...unfortunately they didn't really answer my questions.


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tonylong
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Jul 28, 2010 00:16 |  #3

Different people do things in different ways, so really it's up to what works best for you.

One factor is the size of your library and the "capacity" of your system. If you have tens of thousands of large images in your library you will see some slowdown, especially if you have a slower system. By slower I mean if you have something like a duo-core system with 2 Gb of RAM, you will struggle, and you would benefit from both multiple catalogs and upgrading your hardware as soon as you can. Another thing you can do to speed things up is to run the "render 100% previews" on a shoot as soon as you import it.

Aside from speed requirements, some people keep separate catalogs for, say, Work and Family, or, say, Sports and Weddings, etc. It's a personal choice. I myself have one catalog. My library of images (40,000 or so) is on my external hard drive, except for my recent imports that are "work in progress". My folders/files on the external drive are in Years, then are named with a date/description.

My shoots/folders/files are both keyworded and in Collections, so that I can find what I want. So, I have several ways of locating files and folders without needing separate catalogs.


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57hardtop
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Jul 28, 2010 12:10 |  #4

subscribing...this is probably one of the biggest questions out there regarding LR...I can't believe Tony is the only one to offer any guidance or opinion (thanks Tony)

c'mon, inquiring minds want to know :D


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Jul 28, 2010 12:25 as a reply to  @ 57hardtop's post |  #5

First of all the LR catalogs aren't THAT large that they should fill up a hard drive. What is so large is the PREVIEWS that are rendered that LR uses rather than rendering "on the fly" all the time. The size of the previews can be altered based on your viewing size and you can choose to render previews on import at various sizes. You can also set LR to "throw away" previews after a certain amount of time.

I have a 60GB partition that held my LR catalog(s) and previews and it was never near full!!! This was with 3 catalogs, my personal (about 30K images), weddings (only 2 and about 1K images) and my sports (about 10K images).

So how should you handle your catalogs? Well, I wouldn't move the catalog off of the main drive unless it is an eSATA or FW800 drive for speed reasons. Also, moving the catalog off the main drive means you have to carry a drive with you to use LR.

In this case I think you would be better off trying to manage your internal drive better (what size is the drive BTW?). Set LR to only render images at a size slightly SMALLER than your monitor resolution. Then set previews to only stick around for about 30 days. Tell LR to render standard previews during import, not 1:1 unless you always evaluate your files at 1:1.

How many catalogs? That is up to you. I keep all my personal stuff (now over 35K images) in one catalog so that I don't have to keep opening a different catalog to find images of my daughter for example. Eventually I might create a "family" catalog and then an "other" catalog since the family one seems to be where most of my images reside. But with a nice computer even 35K images doesn't really slow down LR.


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57hardtop
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Jul 28, 2010 19:54 |  #6

Theresa, what kind of laptop do you have? What are the specs? How full is full? From reading your post, I got the impression that you want portability and an option to work on any catalog provided you have the external drive with you. Am I understanding you right? If that's the case, then I would think you may want to keep the master catalog and it's image files on the same external hard drive. I really hope we hear from both camps on this one.


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tahant
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Jul 29, 2010 16:16 |  #7

Thank you so much for your responses. First let me answer a few questions about my setup. I have an old computer. I don’t see myself upgrading in the near future. So I have to make due with what I have.

I have a HP laptop that has (2) 80GB HDs, with 2 GB RAM. I am running windows XP. My C: drive has 10.8GB free space, and my D: drive has 70.8GB free space. I am using lightroom 2, and Photoshop Elements 8 to edit my images. And I shoot with a Canon 50D.

Every time I go out shooting I take at least 300 or better shots. Granted I don’t keep everything, but it is still a large number of files.

My images are by year, month, date_ location taken. I do use keywords, and I am starting to learn about collections. I import my images at 1:1 because it saves time when I am culling and editing. (I always look at 1:1) I can’t get rid of my previews after 30 days because I go back and work on my favorites as I learn more about editing in general. So I can't make the files smaller.

My main concern is: Portability, I want to be able to edit my images on the go. I plan to carry 1 year of images with me, on a 1 TB portable HD.

Here is my what I'm not sure about:
If I have a master catalog for each year on each External HD, then what do I do when I want to find a pic of a dog but don’t know what year it was taken. As I understand it, I have to plug in every HD to see each catalog. If I have 1 master catalog for everything on a 1TB external HD, even if the other HDs aren’t plugged in I can still see the thumbnails and find my pic.

I see what you are saying about having the master catalog on my computer….for speed’s sake, and ease. But again I am concerned about the D: drive filling up fast.


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tonylong
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Jul 29, 2010 20:14 |  #8

If you set LR to delete the 1:1 previews after 30 days, you can still go back to old images to edit them. LR will render a new 1:1 preview when you need it, or you can just have it do so to a batch of images you want to work with.

The main reason to have your "master" gallery on an internal hard drive is speed. But it's your system. You can always test things our for yourself -- make your own choice. My daughter has several thousand images in her library and is happy having her catalog on an external drive. I keep my catalog on an internal "data" drive.


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SnapsbyPoteat
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Jul 29, 2010 20:23 |  #9

Right now I'm reading the Scott Kelby Lightroom 2 book- he has some great step by step ideas & tips about organizing & importing your photos. You should look into it.


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tahant
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Jul 29, 2010 21:14 |  #10

SnapsbyPoteat wrote in post #10628043 (external link)
Right now I'm reading the Scott Kelby Lightroom 2 book- he has some great step by step ideas & tips about organizing & importing your photos. You should look into it.

I have the book you are talking about. I also have his Elements 8 book. not to mention the set of 3 digital photography books too. I just bought Martin Evening's Lightroom 2 book. Right now I am reading "The Photoshop Lightroom Workbook by Seth Resnick and Jamie Spritzer ......I wish I had read this book first.


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Jul 30, 2010 09:28 as a reply to  @ tahant's post |  #11

tahant wrote in post #10626867 (external link)
Thank you so much for your responses. First let me answer a few questions about my setup. I have an old computer. I don’t see myself upgrading in the near future. So I have to make due with what I have.

I have a HP laptop that has (2) 80GB HDs, with 2 GB RAM. I am running windows XP. My C: drive has 10.8GB free space, and my D: drive has 70.8GB free space. I am using lightroom 2, and Photoshop Elements 8 to edit my images. And I shoot with a Canon 50D.

Every time I go out shooting I take at least 300 or better shots. Granted I don’t keep everything, but it is still a large number of files.

My images are by year, month, date_ location taken. I do use keywords, and I am starting to learn about collections. I import my images at 1:1 because it saves time when I am culling and editing. (I always look at 1:1) I can’t get rid of my previews after 30 days because I go back and work on my favorites as I learn more about editing in general. So I can't make the files smaller.

My main concern is: Portability, I want to be able to edit my images on the go. I plan to carry 1 year of images with me, on a 1 TB portable HD.

Here is my what I'm not sure about:
If I have a master catalog for each year on each External HD, then what do I do when I want to find a pic of a dog but don’t know what year it was taken. As I understand it, I have to plug in every HD to see each catalog. If I have 1 master catalog for everything on a 1TB external HD, even if the other HDs aren’t plugged in I can still see the thumbnails and find my pic.

I see what you are saying about having the master catalog on my computer….for speed’s sake, and ease. But again I am concerned about the D: drive filling up fast.

That D: drive should be more than enough! Move the catalog and previews to that location and use it from now on.

Keep one master catalog on the D: drive and store your images on externals. You can keep one or more externals. Give them names (like year) and you will easily be able to find photos on any drive at any time.

tonylong wrote in post #10628012 (external link)
If you set LR to delete the 1:1 previews after 30 days, you can still go back to old images to edit them. LR will render a new 1:1 preview when you need it, or you can just have it do so to a batch of images you want to work with.

Exactly! Why keep previews of files that you may or may not go back and view for some time? If you do go back, let LR render the previews again one at a time.


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tahant
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Aug 02, 2010 19:36 as a reply to  @ In2Photos's post |  #12

Thank you for your help. I will move the master catalog to D: drive.

Ok so how do I go about moving the master catalog? The books tell you how to create a new catalog but not how to move a catalog.


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Aug 03, 2010 08:31 |  #13

tahant wrote in post #10650092 (external link)
Thank you for your help. I will move the master catalog to D: drive.

Ok so how do I go about moving the master catalog? The books tell you how to create a new catalog but not how to move a catalog.

Just move it from within Windows Explorer. The files should be in your My Pictures folder by default. Once you move it, open LR and it will ask what catalog you want to open since the one it normally used is not there. Navigate to the D drive and choose the catalog. I think LR will ask you if you want to use this as your default. Choose yes. If it doesn't go to Edit > Preferences and there is a spot for the default catalog. Click Browse and locate to the location and it should start with that one from here on out.


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tahant
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Aug 03, 2010 08:47 |  #14

In2Photos wrote in post #10652978 (external link)
Just move it from within Windows Explorer. The files should be in your My Pictures folder by default. Once you move it, open LR and it will ask what catalog you want to open since the one it normally used is not there. Navigate to the D drive and choose the catalog. I think LR will ask you if you want to use this as your default. Choose yes. If it doesn't go to Edit > Preferences and there is a spot for the default catalog. Click Browse and locate to the location and it should start with that one from here on out.


Thank you Mike, I am moving my catalog as we speak. It is taking awhile. I didn't realize I had over 16,000 pic for this year alone. it's no wonder my C: drive was filling up fast.


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Aug 03, 2010 09:14 |  #15

tahant wrote in post #10653057 (external link)
Thank you Mike, I am moving my catalog as we speak. It is taking awhile. I didn't realize I had over 16,000 pic for this year alone. it's no wonder my C: drive was filling up fast.

Yup, moving all those previews will take a little time, even between internal drives on the same machine. Imagine transferring a couple of TB of data over the network. ;)


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