I work in the media department for a nonprofit organization and we have been attempting to make the transition from working in Bridge and Photoshop to Lightroom for our photo processing. All of our photos are stored on a network server, and we had hoped to store the Lightroom Catalogs in which we process our photos on the server also. However, this message appears when we attempt to open a Lightroom Catalog from the server:
Lightroom cannot open the catalog named "Lightroom Catalog" located on network volume "Media Network".
Lightroom Catalogs can not be opened on network volumes, removable storage, or read only volumes.
As a media team with multiple members, it is incredibly inconvenient for multiple editors to not be able to access the original Catalogs. It seems to us that Catalogs work similarly to Premiere projects, and should have no difficulty opening over a server, as Premiere doesn't have that issue. We think it is a rather logical requirement that more than one editor be able to access and work on the same Catalog at different times from different computers.
Is there a work around for this limitation?
I don't think there is a workaround, Lightroom catalogs are not allowed to be on a network.
There are other image management programs that do allow their catalog to be on a network, perhaps you should investigate those.
What other programs should we look into?
The only one I know of is called Daminion (note: I am not recommending it, as I have never used it, I simply point out that they claim to allow multi-user catalogs on network drives). As for other choices, I'm sure Google can find them.
As dj already said, there is no workaround. The catalog is a SQL database that is not designed for multi-user access.
There is indeed a work around, one our Photyography Club solved a few months back. This will work with a few assumptions about your workflow. First, each PC/MAC has its own LRC catalog and all images and XMP data is stored on the network.
When you use Lightroom, when you go into LR to start your editing (assuming you have already placed the images onto the NAS and have imported the images into the LR Catalog on the PC you are using), then starting in the Library's Grid view, at the very beginning of the session you just perform a Metadata/Read metadata from Files. This fully updates that computer's lightroom catalog from whatever computer's catalog you last used.
At the very end of the session, you repeat by going into the Library's Grid view with the edited images selected and doing a Metadata/Save metadata to files. It takes less than 5 seconds to do each. Of course only one worker can be editing the images at a time, but we have experimented with two people having the image up at the same time. After one person makes a series of edits, they need to do a metatdata/save and the other worker then does a metatdata/read. That will give both workers the same state of changes. Good luck and let us all know if this solves your problem.
I'm very skeptical ... you would seem to lose a lot of capability of the Lightroom Catalog by doing this, and if human errors creep in, then you have different users with different versions of edits or metadata.
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Bridge/ACR/Photoshop is really the only thing Adobe offers for this. Lightroom Classic is fundamentally not built to do this. If Bridge doesn't work for your purposes, there are a number of digital asset management solutions used by news organizations such as Canto. Those are very costly though.
P.S. You can run a Lightroom catalog from a network server by using iSCSI to mount the server as if it is a local disk. You stioll won't be able to have the same catalog open in multiple machines at the same time so this doesn't really help.