After several days trying to better understand the Elements catalog system to avoid losing it after hardware failure, I've read a number of related threads here, and had helpful responses from several members. However I am coming to the conclusion that Elements has a major limitation which is not made at all clear to buyers*.
It appears to me that Elements catalog has a variable but absolute limit to size of the media or image library it can accept. This is the storage available LOCALLY, and is furthermore halved if a catalog backup is wanted. It can be on either the internal storage of the computer on which the Elements program is running or an attached drive, but it must be physically connected in some way. I am finding it hard to believe, but is this correct?
If so, then although users' cameras, phones and other devices are creating ever larger data files, which are often then loaded automatically into online cloud storage, even the latest version of Elements does not recognise this. I have used Elements since about version 2, paying for an upgrade every few years, and have about 100Gb of media. I have been trying to find a work-around which will free up my (relatively new) laptop's hard drive, but so far without success. Or am I just doing something the wrong way round?
*For example, "system requirements" says only "5.2 GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 2.4 GB to download all optional content (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)". A help page says "In Elements Organizer you can keep your media files in cloud storage such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox in sync with your local catalog." By my understanding so far, the help page should also say "a copy of all your media files must be maintained on your hard drive, with a second copy if you wish to maintain a back-up copy of your catalog."
It's the nature of digital pictures to require a lot more space than other types of data (text, spreadsheets and databases). And you are right that the needs for storage space is increasing exponentially now, with big raw files and burst shots and no incentive to 'cull' useless files. And high res videos?
So that storage must be somewhere and it's good to see that it is becoming available at very low cost in very small internal or external drives. It can also be available "in the Cloud", but that's not really cheap: the transfer speed is most often much too slow; you pay some 'free' amount of Cloud space by sacrificying your privacy.
Now, you have good reasons to complain about a number of marketing arguments and hype.
- It's ridiculous to sell laptops with tiny SSD drives. You must have space for your images. For me, that means probably 1 GB of conventional drive, something very affordable and small today. It's a must. As you have found out, it's also a must to have space somewhere for backups (in another or several external drives or in the 'Cloud'.
- It's easy to sell the idea that you can compensate the lack of local disk space with space on the Cloud, but as the present discussions have shown, you can share the media files easily, but you can't make the catalog organization available on the cloud. As a matter of fact, the available solution today is to let the storing service on the Cloud manage syncing a local conventional folder on your computer. And none of the available Cloud services are now able to provide a sharable and powerful organization based on catalog synced between local and Cloud.
- So, you are seeing Adobe preparing for the future. For them, this means bringing both the data storage and the programs to be managed from the Cloud. There are pros and cons. It's a bit like working locally on a terminal connected to a huge central computer. We are not near this goal as you can see with the new Lightroom vs the 'Lightroom Classic' heated discussions. No satisfying compatibility for hierarchical keywords and no hope for it.
- You should really have a look at how the new Lightroom plan works, it may answer your needs better than using the organizer or Lightroom Classic. It needs a subscription, which is justified by the fact that the media storage and computational needs are provided 'in the Cloud'.