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Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers

  
 
wordfool
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


I'm considering buying a second, smaller, laptop for on-site file management and probably a few same-day photo edits but am grappling with how to work with Lightroom Classic and its catalog across multiple computers/drives.

Its strikes me that the easiest solution is to have the LR catalog on an external drive, but that doesn't fix the problem of the location of the files that the LR catalog references. For example, I have all my photos stored on, say, Drive X at home, but when I'm on the road I'll have no drive X, just drive Y that I use on the road. And when I get home and transfer all the photos from the gig to my main library on Drive X, the catalog references to images I might have edited on drive Y are going to break. Can one remap image files with the catalog? Taking my entire image library on the road is a non-starter for logistical and security reasons, so I'm stuck with trying to make sure the catalog doesn't lose track of what's where.

I'm curious if anyone else has developed a bombproof system for ensuring your on-road and at-home files and catalog stay in sync with LR Classic when dealing with different drives.



Oct 31, 2023 at 01:40 PM
RoamingScott
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


I recently went through this when I migrated my aging windows PC to a Mac Studio/MBP setup instead. What I did (is this bombproof? you be the judge ):

Drive 1: 4TB SSD Samsung T7 Shield
- This drive is my working/scratch drive and gets plugged into whichever computer I'm using
- This drive has the entirety of my current/working/catalog files (not a digital hoarder, so has about the last 7 years worth on it)

Drive 2: 5TB spinning disk Samsung External
- This drive has the entirety of my work including archival shots/folders from many years ago
- This drive stays plugged into my Mac Studio 24/7

My LR Catalog lives on Drive 1, so no matter which machine I'm plugging it into, I have my most recent photos and edits. Presets were duplicated on both machines so I have the same on both.

When I dump files from the camera, I place the RAW files in appropriately named folders by year on Drive 1 and import from there to LR.

I regularly copy Drive 1 to Drive 2 as a backup.

All of my edited jpegs are backed up to Flickr for cloud redundancy since a pro account has unlimited storage. I don't have on off-prem backup of RAW files simply because of the size of that library. If the worst happened, I'd be happy to still have my entire jpeg library downloadable from Flickr.

All of my previous catalog folders were broken of course when I first set this up but all you have to do is point them to the appropriate correct folder on Drive 1 once and then your catalog is fixed.

Your concern about taking your entire catalog on the road is valid. You could use a 2nd SSD drive as a travel drive that only gets that trip's photos dumped to it. You could replicate your file structure on this drive (and have the drives named the same thing) so that when those files and their edits get copied back to the main drive at home, you can merge the catalogs and all is well.



Oct 31, 2023 at 01:48 PM
wordfool
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


RoamingScott wrote:
I recently went through this when I migrated my aging windows PC to a Mac Studio/MBP setup instead. What I did (is this bombproof? you be the judge ):

Drive 1: 4TB SSD Samsung T7 Shield
- This drive is my working/scratch drive and gets plugged into whichever computer I'm using
- This drive has the entirety of my current/working/catalog files (not a digital hoarder, so has about the last 7 years worth on it)

Drive 2: 5TB spinning disk Samsung External
- This drive has the entirety of my work including archival shots/folders from many years ago
- This drive stays
...Show more

Thanks. Sounds like you basically use a universal "non-archived photos" drive so you're essentially only ever working from a single drive that's always with you, at home or on the road. I guess I could do that, although I'd prefer a separate "travel-only" drive because I'm probably not quite as disciplined as you in limiting digital hoarding. I know a lot of people also swear by Dropbox or other online syncing solutions to sync the entire LR catalog folder between computers, but that still leaves the potential issue of having different images on different drives and thus rendering many catalog links broken at any one time.

The problem I see with replicating the drive letter and file structure on a second drive is that without the images from my home drive how will the LR catalog cope? You suggest it's as easy as just pointing LR to the existing files on a different drive and it'll pick everything up, edits and all. If that's the case then it's less of a problem than I thought -- I could use a separate drive on the road, then just copy all those files to my main drive at home and do an Update Folder Location, keeping my on-the-road edits. The question then is how will LR cope when I'm on the road and it can't see any of the thousands of files from home. I assume it'll just do a big shrug and all will be well once I return home and the links are once again valid.




Oct 31, 2023 at 05:48 PM
RoamingScott
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


I think maybe slight misunderstanding...I'm suggesting that if you're not wanting to take your library with you, you create a new catalog every trip on that scratch travel SSD (photos and catalog get deleted from it once you get them on the home drive/computer).



This explains it better than I did. This is actually super easy to do, despite sounding complicated.



Oct 31, 2023 at 06:00 PM
 


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wordfool
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


Ah, that explains things well and sounds like a pretty straightforward workflow. Thanks for the link.


Nov 01, 2023 at 09:55 PM
RT--
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


Set Lightroom to save the metadata to XMP sidecar files. That way you won't be bound to catalogs.
I have different catalogs on my laptop and desktop. When traveling I edit on the laptop and simply copy the images and XMPs to my desktop and import into Lightroom.



Nov 15, 2023 at 01:23 AM
flash
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Lightroom Classic catalog and multiple computers


You could start using smart previews on your drive that contains the catalogue. Basically, a super small, compressed version of the file. You can still work on the files and even export at limited sizes without access to the original raw files. Originals automatically relink from your main drive at the office when you plug it in.

Gordon



Mar 04, 2024 at 01:19 AM







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