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Moving contents of the original photos in Local Storage in Lightroom to another drive/computer

Explorer ,
Jul 09, 2021 Jul 09, 2021

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Hello,

 

I'm currently moving away from iCloud Photo Library on a Mac and onto Lightroom on Windows.  I've currently added to and synced all my photos to Adobe cloud via the Lightroom desktop app, having imported them from an external portable hard drive first and then setting the Local Storage "Store a copy of originals at.." to my internal SSD.

 

My question is: if I were to install Lightroom on another PC (or Mac) from scratch, set the location of Local Storage to wherever I want it to be - will it download all the originals from Adobe Cloud, or will I need to use the special downloader that I've seen mentioned in a few articles?  And if I were to move the original photos that are already set up on my first computer to an external SSD - will that affect anything?

 

My apologies for the newbie questions, but I'd like to be sure that I'm able to back up all my originals and altered works locally wherever possible (I also realise that Lightroom Classic is an option, but Lightroom itself feels more like how iCloud Photo Library used to operate).

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How to, Import and share, Sync, Windows

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 14, 2021 Jul 14, 2021

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Moving your originals from one hard drive to another doesn't make any difference. LR uploads all of your images to the cloud and doesn't reference them on your hard drive. You can control where LR stores a local copy in your preferences. I think you need to download the LR downloader.

thttps://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-cc/kb/download-lightroom-photos.html

Melissa Piccone | Adobe Certified Instructor | Adobe User Group Manager

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Explorer ,
Jul 14, 2021 Jul 14, 2021

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This is the situation I'm hoping to avoid:

 

https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/20/21377411/adobe-lightroom-ios-ipados-app-update-pictures-photos-pr...

 

and would dearly love Adobe to address this by at least allowing exports to different cloud services/object storage, so if they muck up, there are fewer opportunities for permanent data loss. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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If I understand what you mean by "the situation", it was about the loss of pictures which only existed in the cloud. Adobe fixed that specific problem, but obviously there is a more general risk.

 

Cloudy LR's local storage and targetting it with your own backup may help mitigate that dangers. But remember what I said about local storage being more like a cache - it's not designed as the kind of safeguard you want. For example, when you delete a file in Cloudy LR it is cleared out of from local storage too, and you then have 60 days to notice before it's cleared from the Deleted album. That's only a small scale, less-catastrophic case, and one should protect oneself against more systematic eventualities.

 

To mix a few metaphors, the Downloader is a lifeboat and a black box. It's for when you want to get off the Titanic before it enters iceberg territory and lets you pack up all your belongings and row to shore. But because of that role, it's also opaque, barely-documented and hard to validate. I've tested it in its proper role - a one-time escape - and it does rescue everything that I would expect. But I couldn't be so sure when I tested it more routinely as a daily/weekly way to store my stuff locally. You just have to trust it....

 

Classic Lightroom resolves this problem, of course. While I am not a fan of Cloudy LR, if I were forced to use it I would be ensuring that any imports are backed up independently. One idea might be use the OS or another tool to import from cards to a folder which gets uploaded to some cloud service, and then import into Cloudy from that folder. That misses anything shot on a mobile device, so I'd then routinely download using the Export > Original + Settings command. Maybe I'd use this Export command for everything, as it offers some way to preserve one's work. Not sure. But most of all I'd be relying on my own procedures rather than Local Storage or the Downloader.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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For example, when you delete a file in Cloudy LR it is cleared out of from local storage too, and you then have 60 days to notice before it's cleared from the Deleted album. That's only a small scale, less-catastrophic case, and one should protect oneself against more systematic eventualities.

 

I'm not sure that's correct, John. I don't think that a deleted image is removed from the local storage until either the 60 days have elapsed or the user permanently deletes the file from the Deleted album.

 

quote

To mix a few metaphors, the Downloader is a lifeboat and a black box. It's for when you want to get off the Titanic before it enters iceberg territory and lets you pack up all your belongings and row to shore. But because of that role, it's also opaque, barely-documented and hard to validate. I've tested it in its proper role - a one-time escape - and it does rescue everything that I would expect.

 

How thorough was your testing, John? My testing shows that while all images and most edits would be recovered, any metadata added in any of the Lightroom apps is not included in the downloaded files, which would be a pretty big show-stopper for many people. Exporting using "Original + Settings" is the only sure way to recover all the data from the cloud.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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quoteI'm not sure that's correct, John. I don't think that a deleted image is removed from the local storage until either the 60 days have elapsed or the user permanently deletes the file from the Deleted album.

Still, one has 60 days to realize one has made a mistake, Jim, and the OP is more concerned about the overall situation.

 

How thorough was your testing, John? My testing shows that while all images and most edits would be recovered, any metadata added in any of the Lightroom apps is not included in the downloaded files, which would be a pretty big show-stopper for many people. Exporting using "Original + Settings" is the only sure way to recover all the data from the cloud.

 

It's a while ago, Jim, but I tested large scale, daily, and did things like wiping all trace of the Downloader. Since then the Downloader hasn't changed and still appears very primitive - a lifeboat that's safe but held together by a miracle.

 

As I couldn't recall for sure, I chose not to mention settings at all when discussing the Downloader, but my memory is as you suggest. And as you say, "Exporting using "Original + Settings" is the only sure way to recover all the data from the cloud".

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Explorer ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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Thanks, John.

 

I will always have the originals tucked away somewhere, certainly, but being a sysadmin (with a background in film & TV VFX and web hosting), I have a certain degree of trust in cloud storage (but nothing is infallible - I've seen a multi-million-pound tape backup machines fail spectacularly), and yet I want to be able to ensure I have access to everything across all of my personal devices.  And having backups with point-in-time snapshots are essential to me.

 

Last night I remembered a piece of software that I used to use when I last used Windows in anger - SyncBack Pro.  I'm using it to make copies of all the original files (which I moved from the internal SSD to an external SSD) after adjusting the original Local Files setting in Preferences (which then proceeded to copy and move my original files for me).  SyncBack Pro will take a copy of everything three times a week and dump it into date-based folders on a portable hard drive.  This is in addition to backups made by Backblaze across all three drives.  I am reasonably sure that I am now secure (and much of it is overkill) in terms of keeping all my original files in case anything happens to either Adobe Cloud or my machine.  So as long as Lightroom Desktop downloads new photos and edited versions of those photos from mobile or other devices back to the original files on Local Storage, I'm now happy.

 

I have been spoilt too much by Apple's iCloud Photo Library system, although that too has its own problems.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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So as long as Lightroom Desktop downloads new photos and edited versions of those photos from mobile or other devices back to the original files on Local Storage, I'm now happy.

 

And therein lies the problem. The "Store a copy of all originals..." setting does just that, i.e. it will store a local copy of all the cloud originals, but that does not include any edits made anywhere in the system. Lightroom is a "non-destructive" editor, which means that edit settings are stored only in the catalog database, and applied in-flight on the previews that you are always seeing when you look at an image inside Lightroom. So that local copy does not contain any edit information, which is why we've been talking about exporting as "original + settings" as being the safest way to backup your images and any adjustments that you may have made to them.

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Explorer ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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I made an edit with Photoshop and saw that it downloaded a TIFF file with -Edit appended to the original filename.  So I assume that Photoshop edits are fine, but not those made with Lightroom itself - in which case if I make an edit there, I'd have to export to the originals folder?  

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 14, 2021 Jul 14, 2021

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Think of the downloader as a lifeboat, just a way to get your files off Adobe if you choose to leave. It is not a way to move local storage.

I think your idea may work, providing you are careful. But I would suggest it will be easier to let your Windows installation download the files to the PC. Remember that the files in the cloud are the key ones - whatever is in local storage is more like a cache, just a convenient way to process at full res.

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2021 Jul 15, 2021

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My question is: if I were to install Lightroom on another PC (or Mac) from scratch, set the location of Local Storage to wherever I want it to be - will it download all the originals from Adobe Cloud, or will I need to use the special downloader that I've seen mentioned in a few articles?  And if I were to move the original photos that are already set up on my first computer to an external SSD - will that affect anything?

 

Taken in isolation, the answers to your two questions are:

 

1. Installing Lightroom on another system: yes, it will download all the originals, provided you have checked the option in Preferences to "Store a copy of all originals at the specified location". If you don't check the option, Lightroom will temporarily download originals on an "as needed" basis (i.e. when editing or zooming to 1:1). You most definitely do not need to be using the Downloader (even if you used it the downloaded assets would not subsequently be referenced by Lightroom).

 

2. No, nothing is affected. If you change the location for storing originals in Lightroom's preferences, Lightroom will automatically try to move the assets from the current location to the new location. No need to move them yourself.

 

The only query is whether you intend to try to share the local copy of the originals between the two systems, rather than maintaining a full copy on each system? If you are thinking of doing that, be aware that it might work, and it might not. I tried it myself in the early testing days and it seemed to work out OK, but others have reported less successful attempts.

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