Question about Lightroom Classic and hard drive space

Community Beginner ,
Apr 30, 2021 Apr 30, 2021

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Hello Lightroom Crew:  I'm a pro photographer and I've got nearly 100,000 photos in my Lightroom Classic catalog.  They are all stored on external hard drives so as not to eat up the hard drive on my computer but I was wondering if, even though the original photos are on external hard drives, if just having them visible and accessable in Lightroom is eating up any hard drive space?   If anyone knows that answer, I'd appreciate the help.  Thank you! 

 

Just for reference and if it matters, I'm a Mac user.  

 

Tony 

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How to, Import and share, Mac, Performance

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 30, 2021 Apr 30, 2021

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No, having the image files online or offline would make no difference to the amount of disk space being used. Care to explain more what the issue is? If you're concerened about space being used up on your internal system drive, bear in mind that the Lightroom catalog, and its associated previews cache(s) will increase in physical size as you add more images to the catalog. So if the catalog is stored on the internal drive, there will be a gradual increase over time in the amount of space taken up on that drive, as you add more images to the catalog (even though the images themselves are on external hard drives).

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New Here ,
Apr 30, 2021 Apr 30, 2021

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Hello-  I am concerned with the same issue, and I am not sure I completely understand.   I can only store images on external hard drive, my internal hard drive can not take much more.  I just recently upgraded to M10 R, and I am concerned with the space, would love more advise.  My practice has always been to import my card reader to a folder on my external hard drive and process with lightroom CC .  I want to be sure I am doing the right thing, now that I have even bigger files to start with.  I actually am not clear on Adobe photoshop LR CC vs Adobe photoshop LR.  One sits in my bar and the other I can access by opening Creative Cloud and going to LR app.   Currently, my plan with adobe has 100GB of cloud storage with the option of 1TB,  2TB or _5TB__?   THoughts?  Thank you in advance for clarifying this process for me.

 

Bella

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 30, 2021 Apr 30, 2021

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If you use Lightroom Classic then you can spread your images across as many external hard drives as you choose. I use a Windows desktop with two additional internal hard drives and two external hard drives. Lightroom Classic and the catalog are on the main internal SSD, and the images are distributed across the other two internal hard drives as well as the two external hard drives. I have plenty of hard drive space available, and having things configured this way doesn't impact performance.


If you choose to use Lightroom (the cloud version) then those images will be stored in the cloud and will impact that 100 GB allotment. If you choose to do so, a copy of those images will also be stored somewhere on your local hard drive. That is an optional choice that you make. If you want more cloud storage then that is an additional charge to Adobe. If you migrate a catalog to Lightroom then Lightroom pretty much becomes your main or controlling version from that point forward. However, it is still possible to use Lightroom Classic.

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New Here ,
Apr 30, 2021 Apr 30, 2021

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Anyone have feedback on preset in LR Classic ? I was always using a basic  preset that was built in when I processed, it showed up with the Leica Camera I was working with at the time, Leica M10 preset. Now, this preset is not available.   Anyone have this happen to them? 

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Community Beginner ,
May 01, 2021 May 01, 2021

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Hi Jim -

 

Thanks for the response. Appreciate you taking the time to address my question.  The issue is that the hard drive on my Mac is getting full and I'm looking for anything I can do to free up hard drive space.  From your answer, it doesn't appear that the photos in my Lightroom catalog are eating up much space because all photos in there have been stored and imported from external hard drives.   If I've misunderstood your answer, let me know.  Otherwise it looks like I'll need to find other ways of clearing my computers internal hard drive space.  

 

Thanks again ~

 

Tony 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 01, 2021 May 01, 2021

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Tony, I assume the Lightroom catalog is on the internal Mac hard drive? Depending on the number of images, and the type of previews you are using, the size of the catalog folder can get rather large, so there may be scope to reduce space there. Check how much space the folder is taking up then consider if putting the catalog on one of the external drives would be an option? There would be a slight performance impact, but it might be a viable way forward. If that's not an option, look to the associated previews cache(s) and consider if you need ready-made previews for all 100k images....you could for example just keep previews for the last year or two, allowing previews for older images to be built on-the-fly when and if you access them. Also make sure you discard 1:1 previews regularly. Do you build smart previews? If so, do you actually need them?

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 01, 2021 May 01, 2021

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Just to give you some sizes (you got lots of great answers already), I have about 100k images in my main catalog. I store only the last few months on my internal hard disk and offload my older images to a NAS that uses RAID and is regularly backed up automatically. My catalog file on my internal SSD hard disk is 2 GB large. The previews (I don't use 1:1 previews so these are mostly standard size) are 137 GB large. I don't use smart previews. For 100k images this is probably as small as you can get so count on the catalog and previews taking around 150 GB on your internal. If that is too much (Apple is almost criminal for shipping their base models with only 250 GB SSDs), the best solution is getting yourself a small USB-c SSD external disk (they are absolutely tiny and cheap nowadays even for 1TB), plug it in and tape it to your mac with double-sided tape (so you can forget about it) and put your catalog and previews on it. These are much more affordable than getting a new Mac with a better internal hard disk in it. You can also, as already mentioned, put the catalog and previews on a normal external disk but most, if they are spinning drives, are pretty slow. This is not a problem for the images themselves but catalog access speed is a factor in how fast Lightroom feels and it is best to have it on a SSD drive.

 

One thing to consider is also doing some other clean up to create more space for the classic catalog. A major thing is to set the built-in Photos app (if you use it) to offload images to iCloud (if you have that). That is done in its preferences ->optimize Mac storage. It will automatically offload any iCloud images to the cloud. The same can be done to Music and the TV app. Another way to do this much easier is to click on the Apple menu, About this Mac-> storage -> Manage and enable "Optimize storage" and "Empty trash automatically". Do not enable "Store in iCloud" in general. You can also hit "review files" and see if there are any really large files on your hard disk that you don't need such as installer dmg files in downloads and such but be careful with that to not throw away files you still need.

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Community Beginner ,
May 04, 2021 May 04, 2021

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Jao -

 

Thanks so much for all information.  I've gone through your instructions and was able to free up quite a bit of space.  I never know what files are ok to delete but that's a post for Apple communites I suppose.   

 

Thanks again for taking the time to help me out.  

 

Tony 

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