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A Strategy Poll For Major Catalog and Image File Cleanup

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suzpax

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Greetings!

I am suffering from analysis paralysis when it comes to finally getting my Lightroom monster under control and would appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.

I have been using Lightroom since 2003 for personal images and about 8 years ago dove into photography as a living... I have multiple catalogs, many many "Pictures" folders, and I can't even imagine how many nested duplicates (backups--for my paranoid mind) there are. I am about 80% confident about locating all of the historical catalogs as well as where most of the images are.
I want to finally get this under control with one (maybe two) catalogs. I don't need to be convinced of the merits of one big catalog, but since I no longer shoot professionally, I am toying with having two--one for all (former) client files and one for everything else. I don't want to see my former client images again, but would like the convenience of the keywords, ratings, etc that Lightroom has.
One Catalog or Two?

I read the merging catalog article and feel like this will be the best place to begin. I have an 8TB external backup drive that I was going to use to copy all data/files "mess" over, you know, as a backup.

My main question is: Do I start the merging/ fixing/moving process with my current computer (nearly 10 years old) or would it save me tangible time to copy the mess to a WAY faster machine to chew through?

Obviously I don't want to carry the disease over to the shiny, neat and clean machine, but I am at a loss about what and where to begin!

Your thoughts and advice would be so much appreciated!

Thanks!
 
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Greetings!

I am suffering from analysis paralysis when it comes to finally getting my Lightroom monster under control and would appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.

I have been using Lightroom since 2003 for personal images and about 8 years ago dove into photography as a living... I have multiple catalogs, many many "Pictures" folders, and I can't even imagine how many nested duplicates (backups--for my paranoid mind) there are. I am about 80% confident about locating all of the historical catalogs as well as where most of the images are.
I want to finally get this under control with one (maybe two) catalogs. I don't need to be convinced of the merits of one big catalog, but since I no longer shoot professionally, I am toying with having two--one for all (former) client files and one for everything else. I don't want to see my former client images again, but would like the convenience of the keywords, ratings, etc that Lightroom has.
One Catalog or Two?

I read the merging catalog article and feel like this will be the best place to begin. I have an 8TB external backup drive that I was going to use to copy all data/files "mess" over, you know, as a backup.

My main question is: Do I start the merging/ fixing/moving process with my current computer (nearly 10 years old) or would it save me tangible time to copy the mess to a WAY faster machine to chew through?

Obviously I don't want to carry the disease over to the shiny, neat and clean machine, but I am at a loss about what and where to begin!

Your thoughts and advice would be so much appreciated!

Thanks!

Sounds like an exciting project. If it was me my high level strategy would be as follows :-

1. One Catalog (I wont say any more)
2. Combine your catalogs. This will need some thought as to the most efficient way of doing this. Do not think about moving any actual photo files / folders at this stage.
3. After you have combined all catalogs think about the overall folder structure for your photos. I would choose a simple uncluttered structure. Finalise it on paper first and then implement it my moving photos only in LR.
 
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Hi and welcome.

I highly recommend that you get Peter Krogh's excellent multi-media book Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 . Although based on an older version the underlying organizational tools are essientialy the same. It is a thoughtful and thorough presentation of multiple strategies that can be used. There is a whole chapter on catalog management with video tutorials on how to merge.

Before you start I would read and watch the videos through the first three chapters. This should give you a good overview what is possible and some better ideas about how you want proceed.

Having a nice big clean hard drive as the target or your cleanup is a great idea but I wouldn't start by just trying to copy everything over. There are ways that you can use your existing Lightroom catalogs to gather all your images together efficiently. Frequently people get into trouble by just starting to copy things around and quickly loose track. So take some time educate yourself further before you begin.

-louie
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
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Further to what Louie s
Hi and welcome.

I highly recommend that you get Peter Krogh's excellent multi-media book Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 . Although based on an older version the underlying organizational tools are essientialy the same. It is a thoughtful and thorough presentation of multiple strategies that can be used. There is a whole chapter on catalog management with video tutorials on how to merge.

Before you start I would read and watch the videos through the first three chapters. This should give you a good overview what is possible and some better ideas about how you want proceed.

Having a nice big clean hard drive as the target or your cleanup is a great idea but I wouldn't start by just trying to copy everything over. There are ways that you can use your existing Lightroom catalogs to gather all your images together efficiently. Frequently people get into trouble by just starting to copy things around and quickly loose track. So take some time educate yourself further before you begin.

-louie
Further to what Louie said, you can keep your catalog and your actual photo files on different drives. I hope that your new system has an SSD for the operating system, programs, and data files. I don't know if you are using MacOS or Windows. If the latter, which is what I use, a "very good practice" is to have separate partitions, Drives C: and D:, for Windows and programs, and data files. In this organization, your Lightroom catalog should be on Drive D:. This approach makes for easier backups and migrations, etc.

Also, if you do choose to consolidate on a new HDD drive, much less expensive/dear for bulk storage, you can definitely speed up the process by copying from the old drive to the new one. Much faster than moving files on just one mechanical drive. One possible approach is to put both systems on your home network.

If you are using Windows, a useful program for locating duplicate is Duplicate Cleaner - Find Duplicate Files. The premium version is worth the cost. I had a similar problem of backups and backups of backups. I used this program to locate entire duplicate folders. If you know which folders have photos imported into Lightroom, then all the other folders can safely be deleted, but proceed with caution, of course. Sometimes I use this program to identify duplicates, but then delete the duplicates from within Lightroom. I'm sure that there are other programs with the same functionality because the file duplication category is very popular.
 
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My strategy would be to take the two decisions independently. Too often I see people doing a bit of both, seeing the system upgrade as an opportunity to change folder organization that's been bugging them. They're two big steps - focus on one step, make sure it's done properly, then do the other. So my inclination would be to get new computer, transfer the existing stuff "as is" and check that you have indeed transferred everything, then do the tidying up.
 

mcasan

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Remember that the structure you use for your referenced folders of images, does not have to be the same structure you can use for collections and collection sets. I store in folders strictly by shoot date. Very easy to have Lr store files that way.

My collections and collections sets are by specific events or locations. If I were a pro then I would use collections and collection sets to handle client projects. Think of how you want both the folder structure and collection structures to work together to make life easier.
 

suzpax

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Further to what Louie s

Further to what Louie said, you can keep your catalog and your actual photo files on different drives. I hope that your new system has an SSD for the operating system, programs, and data files. I don't know if you are using MacOS or Windows. If the latter, which is what I use, a "very good practice" is to have separate partitions, Drives C: and D:, for Windows and programs, and data files. In this organization, your Lightroom catalog should be on Drive D:. This approach makes for easier backups and migrations, etc.

Also, if you do choose to consolidate on a new HDD drive, much less expensive/dear for bulk storage, you can definitely speed up the process by copying from the old drive to the new one. Much faster than moving files on just one mechanical drive. One possible approach is to put both systems on your home network.

If you are using Windows, a useful program for locating duplicate is Duplicate Cleaner - Find Duplicate Files. The premium version is worth the cost. I had a similar problem of backups and backups of backups. I used this program to locate entire duplicate folders. If you know which folders have photos imported into Lightroom, then all the other folders can safely be deleted, but proceed with caution, of course. Sometimes I use this program to identify duplicates, but then delete the duplicates from within Lightroom. I'm sure that there are other programs with the same functionality because the file duplication category is very popular.
I am using Windows and I am planning on storing the catalog on the SSD (1TB screaming fast) and all of the photos on a 6TB HDD. I put my old drives directly into the new machine to copy them over, so at least when I start to do anything, it will be as efficient as possible. Thanks for your advice!
 

suzpax

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Remember that the structure you use for your referenced folders of images, does not have to be the same structure you can use for collections and collection sets. I store in folders strictly by shoot date. Very easy to have Lr store files that way.

My collections and collections sets are by specific events or locations. If I were a pro then I would use collections and collection sets to handle client projects. Think of how you want both the folder structure and collection structures to work together to make life easier.
Agreed--using a dated file structure seems to be the best practice here.
 

suzpax

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Joined
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Messages
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Hi and welcome.

I highly recommend that you get Peter Krogh's excellent multi-media book Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 . Although based on an older version the underlying organizational tools are essientialy the same. It is a thoughtful and thorough presentation of multiple strategies that can be used. There is a whole chapter on catalog management with video tutorials on how to merge.

Before you start I would read and watch the videos through the first three chapters. This should give you a good overview what is possible and some better ideas about how you want proceed.

Having a nice big clean hard drive as the target or your cleanup is a great idea but I wouldn't start by just trying to copy everything over. There are ways that you can use your existing Lightroom catalogs to gather all your images together efficiently. Frequently people get into trouble by just starting to copy things around and quickly loose track. So take some time educate yourself further before you begin.

-louie
Thanks for the info! I will definitely check it out. I am much more willing to do research first than dive right in, now that I am "more seasoned" LOL :)
 
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Greetings!

I am suffering from analysis paralysis when it comes to finally getting my Lightroom monster under control and would appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.

I have been using Lightroom since 2003 for personal images and about 8 years ago dove into photography as a living... I have multiple catalogs, many many "Pictures" folders, and I can't even imagine how many nested duplicates (backups--for my paranoid mind) there are. I am about 80% confident about locating all of the historical catalogs as well as where most of the images are.
I want to finally get this under control with one (maybe two) catalogs. I don't need to be convinced of the merits of one big catalog, but since I no longer shoot professionally, I am toying with having two--one for all (former) client files and one for everything else. I don't want to see my former client images again, but would like the convenience of the keywords, ratings, etc that Lightroom has.
One Catalog or Two?

I read the merging catalog article and feel like this will be the best place to begin. I have an 8TB external backup drive that I was going to use to copy all data/files "mess" over, you know, as a backup.

My main question is: Do I start the merging/ fixing/moving process with my current computer (nearly 10 years old) or would it save me tangible time to copy the mess to a WAY faster machine to chew through?

Obviously I don't want to carry the disease over to the shiny, neat and clean machine, but I am at a loss about what and where to begin!

Your thoughts and advice would be so much appreciated!

Thanks!
Welcome to the forum! I would concur with the advice you have been given above, especially about Peter Krogh's book. I would also add that if you are going to be moving a lot of files between machines/drives, for whatever reason, then I would incorporate a new machine and new drives before undertaking any efforts. A new machine with Thunderbolt or USB-C ports are going going to be way faster for moving a large amount of data in comparison to a 10-year old machine. I have a two-year old desktop with USB 3 ports that is nowhere near as fast as my 6-month old basic laptop with USB-C ports when I am using my Samsung T5 external drive. PCIe NVMe internal drives are also an order of magnitude faster as well.

Also, not to pick nits, but your date may be a bit off as LR v.1 was released in 2007.

Good luck,

--Ken
 
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I differ a bit from the others here.
I would do some organization as part on the transfer.
For each catalog I would open on the old computer, select all images and choose export catalog with images. Save this to you backup drive and do it for each catalog.
This will give you a great starting point to import and correct all the folders and image locations at once. Further, it will give Lr's primitive duplicate check a chance to reduce some work.

Lastly, two catalogs. One for professional and one for everything else. They serve different purposes, it reduces always adding a tag to the search which says not work.


Sent from my SM-J737T using Tapatalk
 
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I have found trying to move a large number of folders at one time can confuse Lightroom. So, I would advise to move things around in smaller batches.
That has been my approach as well, inside of LR or not. it is less of a problem these days, but I have had too many machines lock up in the middle of moving large amounts of files (or messages in Outlook). I am content to batch things up even if it takes a couple of extra minutes.

--Ken
 
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I have had too many machines lock up in the middle of moving large amounts of files

Yep, those cases of data loss are rare, but can be catastrophic if someone doesn't have good backups, so I tend to recommend moving more than a few odd files in Explorer/Finder instead of in LR.
 

suzpax

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Welcome to the forum! I would concur with the advice you have been given above, especially about Peter Krogh's book. I would also add that if you are going to be moving a lot of files between machines/drives, for whatever reason, then I would incorporate a new machine and new drives before undertaking any efforts. A new machine with Thunderbolt or USB-C ports are going going to be way faster for moving a large amount of data in comparison to a 10-year old machine. I have a two-year old desktop with USB 3 ports that is nowhere near as fast as my 6-month old basic laptop with USB-C ports when I am using my Samsung T5 external drive. PCIe NVMe internal drives are also an order of magnitude faster as well.

Also, not to pick nits, but your date may be a bit off as LR v.1 was released in 2007.

Good luck,

--Ken
HI Ken,
Yes, you're right about the dates--accuracy is important to me too. Thanks ;)

I went ahead with the new machine--Holy Moly it has made a huge difference in workflow speed, so I have begun to work in the old catalogs to clean them up first--no need to move files that I will be deleting anyways. I also am reading Peter's Book, and incorporating some workflow stop gaps (some of Jeremy Friedl's plugins) to ensure that folders are handled and then migrated the same way.
 

suzpax

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I differ a bit from the others here.
I would do some organization as part on the transfer.
For each catalog I would open on the old computer, select all images and choose export catalog with images. Save this to you backup drive and do it for each catalog.
This will give you a great starting point to import and correct all the folders and image locations at once. Further, it will give Lr's primitive duplicate check a chance to reduce some work.

Lastly, two catalogs. One for professional and one for everything else. They serve different purposes, it reduces always adding a tag to the search which says not work.


Sent from my SM-J737T using Tapatalk
tspear,
so if I understand your suggestion accurately, you would export each catalog with images to backup, then in the master catalog, import the catalogs so LR can rule out duplicates and ALL images will be in the same place?

Agreed on the two catalogs, but we seem to be holdouts ;)
 
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tspear,
so if I understand your suggestion accurately, you would export each catalog with images to backup, then in the master catalog, import the catalogs so LR can rule out duplicates and ALL images will be in the same place?

Agreed on the two catalogs, but we seem to be holdouts ;)

Yes; I would do the import so on the new machine. or new drive location.
In terms of split catalog, I have heard/read all the debates for having a single catalog when you have both professional and personal photographs. The most significant reason I have seen was because you can import to the wrong catalog by accident if you are constantly switching catalogs. This can be addressed by creating short cuts which point to the correct catalog which than opens Lr.
This is likely a better solution for you since the professional catalog is not longer active, likely has keywords, collections and other aspects which would just clutter your personal catalog.
 

PhilBurton

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I have found trying to move a large number of folders at one time can confuse Lightroom. So, I would advise to move things around in smaller batches.
Followed up by frequently quitting LR so that the catalog is backed up. (You all DO back up your catalog, don't you?) Backups don't take much space, not in an era of multi-TB drives.
 
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