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What solutions are recommended for optimal storage organisation with external hard drive?

Community Beginner ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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Hi everyone,

I'm looking for detailed solution on how to organize my photos with Lightroom Classic.

My setup is a MacBook Pro with limited internal storage and several external hdd's.

Since my internal storage is always pretty full because of other apps, I'm looking for a solution that doesn't need to much internal storage available. Atm I have a large catalog and every time I open LR my storage gets ~20GB added to the used space because of LR. In order to avoid that I want to create a new catalog on an external storage and add all my external hdd's photos to it, but I'm not sure if I'll see a big drop in the speed of how LR will work. 

Anyone has this type of setup and can provide a feedback on how LR works this way?

Any other solution or ideas on how to use LR more efficient while having my photos on external drives are much appreciated.

Have a good one!

Bye

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correct answers 3 Correct answers

LEGEND , Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

In order to avoid that I want to create a new catalog on an external storage...

 

Why not move the existing catalog (and previews) to the external HDD?

 

... but I'm not sure if I'll see a big drop in the speed of how LR will work.

 

The most definitive answer can be found by trying it.

 

 

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Community Expert , Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

I just dedicated a big external HD to all images, the catalog, presets (use the Store Presets with Catalog option) for all this data. Then I can clone that drive easily (on Mac, I use SuperDuper) and even rotate to other dedicated drives for backup.

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Community Expert , Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023
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I have a large catalog and every time I open LR my storage gets ~20GB added to the used space because of LR.

By @AndreiFurnea

 

That might be because if you browse different photos than you did last time, new previews are generated, and cached in the …Previews.lrdata file next to the catalog. Or, if you edit more photos, the edit data may be added to the Camera Raw cache which is always on the system volume by default. For these reasons I always keep at least 100GB free on my system volume.

 

...

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LEGEND ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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In order to avoid that I want to create a new catalog on an external storage...

 

Why not move the existing catalog (and previews) to the external HDD?

 

... but I'm not sure if I'll see a big drop in the speed of how LR will work.

 

The most definitive answer can be found by trying it.

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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thank you, I was not aware I can move the catalog and keep everything working, I will look into that, appreciated! 

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Community Expert ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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I just dedicated a big external HD to all images, the catalog, presets (use the Store Presets with Catalog option) for all this data. Then I can clone that drive easily (on Mac, I use SuperDuper) and even rotate to other dedicated drives for backup.

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

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Community Expert ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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I'm looking for detailed solution on how to organize my photos with Lightroom Classic.

 

I'm fairly sure that a Google search will list a number of articles, guides, videos that will provide significantly more detail than is reasonable to expect from customers answering your question here.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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I've used "detailed solution" within a specific context. First I did google it, watch quite a few "tutorials", but wanted to ask here to have answers from this community because I consider them experts. It says under your name Community expert, right? being pejorative doesn't help the community, trust me

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Community Expert ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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My response was in the context of your of your original post, which does not include any reference to what you have already done. 

 

Post edited to corrrect earlier edit

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Community Expert ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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quote

I have a large catalog and every time I open LR my storage gets ~20GB added to the used space because of LR.

By @AndreiFurnea

 

That might be because if you browse different photos than you did last time, new previews are generated, and cached in the …Previews.lrdata file next to the catalog. Or, if you edit more photos, the edit data may be added to the Camera Raw cache which is always on the system volume by default. For these reasons I always keep at least 100GB free on my system volume.

 

The …Previews.lrdata file can grow over time, for example to 20 or 50GB. When it gets really large I throw it out; because it’s just a preview cache Lightroom Classic will rebuild it automatically. If you move your catalog folder to another volume, the growth in the preview cache will no longer affect your system volume.

 

The Camera Raw cache size can be limited in Lightroom Classic preferences, and if it is, it won’t keep growing past the limit you set in the preferences. There is also a video cache in preferences that you can limit.

 

quote

In order to avoid that I want to create a new catalog on an external storage and add all my external hdd's photos to it, but I'm not sure if I'll see a big drop in the speed of how LR will work.

By @AndreiFurnea

 

If the catalog is on external storage, then it and the previews are both there, so the access time will depend on whether you are using a hard disk drive or a solid state drive. If you use a HDD, there might not be a noticeable drop in loading originals (because they are not read very often), but there may be a noticeable slowdown when reading/writing to the catalog and preview file (because those are constantly read and written to). So originals are OK on an external HDD, but if you are also going to store the catalog folder on the external volume then it would be better for it to be an SSD.

 

There are different speed levels of SSDs. For photo editing, the cheapest SSD option (SATA interface connected with USB 3 or later) is fine, and 5x faster than a hard drive. You can spend more money on NVMe SSDs; if you do, a 1000 megabytes per second (MB/sec) SSD connected by 10Gbps USB 3 is also fine, and may be useful if you also edit video sometimes. For photo editing, it’s a waste of money to get the highest level (NVMe SSD at 3000+MB/sec connected by 40Gbps USB 4 or Thunderbolt), but if you do pro level video editing that might be a good idea. (For comparison, internal Mac SSD speed can be 1300–7400MB/sec depending on the model.)

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 23, 2023 Feb 23, 2023

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Thank you kindly for your answer, really helpful! I have a much more clear image in mind on how the catalog system works, much appreciated!

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Participant ,
Feb 24, 2023 Feb 24, 2023

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Moving the catalogue to an external disk puts you just one communication glitch in the shaky cable away from a corrupted catalogue. In addition it may degrade performance seriously.
With my 300K pictures the catalogue and support files are about 72GB and are put on my fastest internal disk, the NVMe system system disk. The photo files are mostly read only and reside on different disks, the newest on an SSD and the older archives on large capacity HDDs.

Thor Egil Leirtrø
https://thoregilphoto.com

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