Best way to sync catalog between computers

Explorer ,
Jan 04, 2022 Jan 04, 2022

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I have two Mac computers, an iMac and Macbook and want to share the same catalog.  My photos are on an external drive that's always mounted on /Volumes/Photos.  In the past, I always backed up my catalog to a folder on the external drive and then unzipped the backup into the folder with the catalog on the other computer.  With version 11, there is a .lrcat-data file, which I think contains mask information.  I would like to use some sort of sync software.  I've tried "Compare & Sync Folders" by Greenworldsoft.  When I go to sync, it's opening the lrcat-data file as a folder, with all kinds of embedded data files (it looks like a folder in Finder but in a shell, it's a folder).

 

This is all a giant pain.  Is there some easier way to synchronize catalogs on two computers that use the same external drive for the image files?

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Adobe Community Professional , Jan 05, 2022 Jan 05, 2022

That's probably the slowest you can get nowadays. Any external ssd will be an order of magnitude faster. If you have usb 3.0 you have enough bandwidth for an ssd that will pull more than 500 MB/s. The 5400 rpm drive probably won't get much more than 50-100MB/s. Probably less. Most of these external ssd drives connect both through usb-c and usb 3.0. However if it works good enough right now you might not need to do anything else 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 04, 2022 Jan 04, 2022

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The easiest way is to put the catalog itself also on the external drive. You don't need to sync anything then. Just close out of Classic on one computer, unmount the hard drive and mount it on the other. Double click on the catalog file on the other computer and classic will open with that caatalog selected with everything there.

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Explorer ,
Jan 04, 2022 Jan 04, 2022

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I thought I read somewhere that having the catalog on an external drive is not recommended, for performance reasons.  Lightroom already seems to be getting more sluggish over the years (I have about 11,000 photos in my catalog now).

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 04, 2022 Jan 04, 2022

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@John E Anderson wrote:

I thought I read somewhere that having the catalog on an external drive is not recommended, for performance reasons.  Lightroom already seems to be getting more sluggish over the years (I have about 11,000 photos in my catalog now).



A catalog of 11,000 photos is nothing. Placing the catalog on the external drive is indeed by far the easiest method, but the speed of the hard drive does affect the speed of Lightroom. Go for an SSD drive if you can afford it, that will make a world of difference. 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 04, 2022 Jan 04, 2022

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Depends on the hard drive but it typically is just fine to do this provided the external disk is reasonably fast. Disk access to the catalog is usually not what limits speed. You can use a USB-c external SSD for this too which are really fast if you are worried. 1TB versions are surprisingly cheap nowadays.

Another way to accomplish this would be some sort of disk syncing solution such as dropbox and put the catalog in this. You just have to be extremely careful to avoid opening the catalog on both machines at the same time as your catalog might become corrupted. You also need to make sure that all changes have synced over before opening on the other machine. Many people do this succesfully and it does work if you are vigilant to avoid the above issues.

If you want to stay local, consider Carbon Copy Cloner (https://bombich.com) and do it over your network between the two machines. This is functionally the same as the cloud sync solution.

 

The only fool proof and least headaches way though is to just put the catalog on the external disk.

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Explorer ,
Jan 05, 2022 Jan 05, 2022

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I have tried putting the catalog on the external hard drive.  Performance is a bit sluggish but OK.  I'm using an external G-Drive, 5400 RPM, USB 3.0.  I can't find any stats on this drive to compare to newer SSD drives.  Also, neither of my Macs has USB-C, so not sure I can get more speed.

 

For now, I'll continue to use LR with the catalog on the external drive.  Thanks to all for the replies!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 05, 2022 Jan 05, 2022

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That's probably the slowest you can get nowadays. Any external ssd will be an order of magnitude faster. If you have usb 3.0 you have enough bandwidth for an ssd that will pull more than 500 MB/s. The 5400 rpm drive probably won't get much more than 50-100MB/s. Probably less. Most of these external ssd drives connect both through usb-c and usb 3.0. However if it works good enough right now you might not need to do anything else 

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Explorer ,
Jan 09, 2022 Jan 09, 2022

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I bought a Samsung Portable SSD T5, 2 TB connected to my USB 3.0 port.  A world of difference in performance.  Faster startup, faster building of previews, MPG movies actually play!  This is so easy now to go back and forth between my two Mac systems.  I've kept the original files on the external drive for years but kept the catalog on the local hard drive.  I'd backup up the catalog to the external drive and unzip and overwrite the catalog on the other system when I switched.  A real pain.

 

Thanks again to all for your replies.  This has made my life so much simpler.

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 05, 2022 Jan 05, 2022

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quote

The easiest way is to put the catalog itself also on the external drive. You don't need to sync anything then. Just close out of Classic on one computer, unmount the hard drive and mount it on the other. Double click on the catalog file on the other computer and classic will open with that caatalog selected with everything there.


By @Jao vdL

I agree, OR just clone the that drive to another using a backup utility (on Mac, I use either SuperDuper or Chronosync). You have a copy/backup too, and only newer data and changes are copied after initial clone.

Of course, ideally all your images, LR catalog/files and presets are on that drive. Hence, the 'Store Presets with Catalog" preferences is useful.


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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