Out of HDD space for my Images: How to manage my LR photo catalogue

New Here ,
Feb 14, 2021 Feb 14, 2021

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I've tried to find an answer to this specific question but haven't seemed to have any luck.  I'm hoping someone can give me guidance.

I have about 12 years of photos on my current computer SATA HDD (4TB).  I'm using LR Classic - latest version 10.xxx.  So I am about to run out of hard disk space on my current drive.  Wondering what my options are for my current computer and if I got a new computer, which I'm considering.

1. Current computer.  I have an additional internal 4TB SATA drive that has about 2TB available.  So do I keep using my same catalogue and just start saving my new images on to the 2nd HDD and do that through LR as I import and it will know where they are?  (My concern is if I lost one drive, would that kill the catalogue and thus ruin the images on the other drive, (as far as LR changes, templates, ratings and collections, or not)?

2. External HDD option:  Or, should I get an external HDD either USB 3.1 or NAS via Ethernet and keep my catalogue on that (with Raid 1 backup)?  I like this in theory but am afraid with the slow transfer speeds, LR won't work well and since I have pretty high MP cameras (45mp and 102mp) the files are huge and I think it will bog things down to be unbearable to actually work on the images.  My computer was top of the line PC 5 years ago but now a bit sluggish.  I don't have Thunderbolt and don't think it will support something like that.  So stuck with USB 3.1 or RJ45.

Is there a convenient work around for this 2nd option?  Was wondering if there was a way to store the images on the External drive but have a 2nd catalogue on the boot drive or internal SATA drive where I can work on images from current shoots and then once done, move them to the larger catablogue on the external drive?

3.  New computer:  I am contemplating getting a new computer and limited to Dell/Alienware due to account/financing.  So I can get a great fast computer but they seem limited to the amount of internal SATA HDD size they can handle.  Seems limited to 6TB total (1) SSD boot (2TB max) + (1-2) SATA HDD (4TB total) = total of 6TB.  So I think I would have to look into something like option two for this anyway.  Just seems all the external drive options leave a lot ot be desired with transfer R/W speeds.  If I got a new computer I could add a Thunderbolt 3 card, maybe you can let me know if that would resolve the R/W speed issue and I can just store my images and work on them via the catalogue on the External HDD?  Or are there other options I haven't considered?

Thanks for your help.  I know it's a lot post but hoping it was clear?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 14, 2021 Feb 14, 2021

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Good news, this is easy, you just need another external drive.

 

Here's the deal. LRC doesn't care where the images are as long as the database part of LRC knows where they are. So if you have your images on Drive A and Drive B, LRC doesn't care. One tip is that you do need to "feed" a few images over to the extra drive to let LRC know that the extra drive knows where it is.

 

BTW, I'm sure you back up your drives to other drives, it would be a shame to loose 4 TB of images becuase they were not backed up.

 

Here are two sources for moving files to a new drive and/or starting images on a 2nd drive

 

#1: https://www.lightroomqueen.com/move-photos-another-hard-drive-leaving-catalog/

 

#2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9B0lq6GJZc

 

Good luck!

 

P.s., Oh yeah, obviously get a fast drive AND the fastest cabling. You'll be good.

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LEGEND ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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External drives are a good solution, here is another explanation of how to move your photos to an external drive (see "Part 2 — Updating Folder Location"). http://www.computer-darkroom.com/lr2_find_folder/find-folder.htm

 

I disagree with the above about speed of the drive and fast cabling. Any standard external drive sold today will be fine. Speed of the disk where the photos are stored (or speed of the transfer) makes almost no difference to Lightroom Classic unless there is some malfunction somewhere slowing things down. No need to spend money to get the fastest drive available for Lightroom Classic's purposes (although if you have other software, then possibly the speed of the drive makes a difference to the other software).

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New Here ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Gary,

Thank you for your advise.  I wasn't sure how much LR needs to continually access the file when you're working on it.  I do know that you can store images in different drives/folders and as long as the catalogue knows where it is, it can access it.  I was more concerned with how say a failure of drive D would impact being able to access the images on drive E if I had my catalogue split over different drives.  So that was my main concern there.  But glad to see I can just get an external drive and not have to worry about running out of space.

I'll check out those links.

Really appreciate your time to help.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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HI Darth,

 

If that's your main concern, than yes, there's no issue. The WORST that would happen in LRC is that you'd get exclamation points ("!") in the thumbnail letting you know that LRC lost access to the original image, but that's it.

 

The big thing is that you lost your images. 

 

FWIW, my primary drive died about 3 months ago. I said "dang it," ordered a new drive, when it came in I transferred the images from that drive's backup to the new drive, reset a few things, and continued. I didn't lose anything but a bit of time. No image was lost. Having a backup drive is a good thing (and they do not have to be fast, just reliable).

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New Here ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Gary,

Thanks for explaining that. I wasn't sure.  Good to know.

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LEGEND ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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I like this in theory but am afraid with the slow transfer speeds, LR won't work well and since I have pretty high MP cameras (45mp and 102mp) the files are huge and I think it will bog things down to be unbearable to actually work on the images. 


By @DarthFacilitus

 

The speed of the disk where the photos are stored has little impact on Lightroom Classic speed. If your processing in Lightroom Classic slows down with larger photos, it is the CPU and/or GPU that isn't fast enough to handle the larger size images.

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New Here ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Thank you for your help.  Glad to know my USB 3.1/3.2 should be fast enough with an external drive. Much appreciated and I will check out the link you sent as well. 

Thank you for your time.

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Contributor ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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So I am about to run out of hard disk space on my current drive. 


By @DarthFacilitus

 

While you may have already done this, confirm why you are running out of drive space. For example, I download and create any temporary files in Windows Download directory. Presently this has over 3GB of files which I can delete if I need space.

How good are you at culling your pictures? I'm become ruthless and find myself deleting old pictures wondering why I kept them in the first place.

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New Here ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Understood.  I will double check.  But I think it is more about having 12 years of images on the drive.  But never hurts to do a clean up.

I am trying to be more ruthless and deleting images that are never going to be used.  Good advice for sure!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Well, speaking from experience, I got a good drive to store my photos and ended up getting a new good drive with faster cabling and it did make a difference — big difference.

 

That's why I commented upon it.

 

I'm speaking from experience, not theory.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Gary are you using "the Automatically write metadata to xmp" selected?

 

Regards, Denis: iMac mid-2015, 5K 27”, GPU 2GB, Ram 24GB, HDD 3TB, macOS 11.2.3, LrC 10.2, Lr 4.1, Ps 22.3, Pr 14.8.0; Camera OM-D E-M1.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Nope

 

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LEGEND ,
Feb 16, 2021 Feb 16, 2021

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Its okay to report your experiences, but everyone (including me) has different experiences. So one person's experience (yours or mine or anybody else's) is not particularly meaningful, in my opinion.

 

I report that drive speed makes only a tiny difference in Lightroom Classic performance in the develop module because Ian Lyons performed a thorough study of the matter, and concluded that drive speed makes only a trivial difference — which corresponds with the theory that the Develop Module reads the image portion of the file one time only, and then doesn't read or write to the image portion of the file again, thus disk speed is not relevant to Develop Module speed, other than the initial read of the file.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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@DarthFacilitus wrote:

I don't have Thunderbolt and don't think it will support something like that.  So stuck with USB 3.1 or RJ45.


 

You’re not really stuck. USB 3.1/3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbs/sec) is fast enough, Gen 2 (10Gb/sec) even more so. Either is faster than an SSD connected through SATA. Thunderbolt 3 would be an expensive option that doesn’t benefit a photographer very much, unless you also constantly edit very high resolution video. Yes, you can get some fast, expensive SSD storage over Thunderbolt 3 that performs 2x or 3x as fast as 10Gb/sec USB 3 when you run a benchmark utility on it. But when I watch the storage throughput meter for actual throughput during photo editing or backups, I don’t see that type of storage exceed USB speeds very often, largely because of overhead issues.

 

For that reason, I store all my raw originals on a hard drive connected through USB 3 and it's fine. Although my cameras are not as many megapixels as yours, I sometimes edit panoramas that are in the range of 40–100 megapixels. For those large files, what affects Develop performance for me are RAM and graphics acceleration, not the speed of the storage volume.

 

There is another reason for you to consider an affordable external USB storage volume: When you select an image in the Develop module, it does read the original file data from its storage volume, but once it does that, it doesn’t need to do it again for a while. The edited image data is cached in RAM and in the Camera Raw cache, so that is what Lightrom Classic keeps going to while you’re editing…not to the original raw file. After you finish editing, the preview of the edited version is stored in the previews file.

 

The Camera Raw cache is usually stored on the system volume, and the previews file is stored in the same folder as the catalog. So if you want your storage devices to speed up editing, it is the Camera Raw cache and catalog file + previews file that you want to store on your fastest available volume.

 

If you decide to go NAS and you want to make speed a priority anyway, you could get an NAS that supports 10Gb/sec Ethernet. But of course that would require that any routers or switches in between support 10Gb/sec Ethernet, and putting a 10Gb/sec Ethernet card in your computer. If you’re not already set up for that, buying all that hardware could be expensive. If you don’t really have a specific reason to put your storage on the network, then a regular USB 3 DAS (direct attached storage) enclosure would be simpler, cheaper, and maybe faster.

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New Here ,
Feb 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021

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Conrad,

Thank you for all that info.  Good to know.  I was considering a Synology NAS system, but I already do 2 backups of my data (one local and once cloud), so good to know that's not really necessary.  And good to know about the 10gb/sec ethernet.  I looked into that but far too expensive for my needs.  I think, thanks to everyone's input here, that I will just save my images to a larger external USB 3 drive and that should suffice.

I appreciate yours and everyone's time to answer my questions.

 

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