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Best workflow for LR on multiple computers?

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GretchenW

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Who here works on LR on multiple computers?
I bought a new desktop for my studio and I'm moving my laptop to home. I've duplicated the LR catalog and loaded it onto my new desktop.

I'd like to be able to do work in both places but I'm kinda thinking that requires me to have my catalog on and External HD. Is that correct? Not that it's a huge deal but I'm just wondering, is the the best practice for people who work on their photos in 2 places?

As another option, could I install LR Cloud-based on the laptop and sync it with my LR classic on the desktop? I also have an iPad that I currently have synced with my LR classic, but I don't love the functionality of the iPad and would prefer to be on a laptop.

Yes I know I will need to have my actual photos on the EHD as well, actually in my case I have my photos on a second EHD right now.
 

GretchenW

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As another option.....

I could just use Bridge and ACR on my laptop, then just synchronize metadata when I get back to my desktop. how about that idea? Bad or good?
 

bobsomrak

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I keep catalog and photos on an External SSD and it works fine to move from one computer to another. On Windows, make sure the Drive Letters for the external drive will always be the same on both computers. I haven't used Windows for 11 years so someone else will have to tell you how to do this.

If you had both a Mac and Windows this would be more difficult.
 

GretchenW

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I keep catalog and photos on an External SSD and it works fine to move from one computer to another. On Windows, make sure the Drive Letters for the external drive will always be the same on both computers. I haven't used Windows for 11 years so someone else will have to tell you how to do this.

If you had both a Mac and Windows this would be more difficult.
thanks a ton! Check and check. Drive letters have already been assigned as the same so I'm good there. Sounds like a solid plan.
 
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I use windows and follow the External Drive method. However, I have a largish catalog (over 100k images) and my 4TB spinning disk EHD was a bit sluggish with the LR Catalog so I have my working copy of the catalog on my internal SSD HD on my desktop computer. Every night as well as just before I leave on a trip I replicate it to the External SSD drive that I'll be taking on the trip for use on my laptop. Then I synchronize that EHD to a second EHD that I leave home as a backup.
 
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If the synch process between LR Classic and LR Cloudy was not full of omissions, one could use the Cloud based ecosystem on the road or on the laptop and have a much simpler workflow. However there are major deficiencies in the LR Cloud tools available and the grand daddy problem is that keywords won't synch back and forth between the eco systems and that negates this as an option in my book as most of what I'd want to do on the road is keywording.
 

GretchenW

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I use windows and follow the External Drive method. However, I have a largish catalog (over 100k images) and my 4TB spinning disk EHD was a bit sluggish with the LR Catalog so I have my working copy of the catalog on my internal SSD HD on my desktop computer. Every night as well as just before I leave on a trip I replicate it to the External SSD drive that I'll be taking on the trip for use on my laptop. Then I synchronize that EHD to a second EHD that I leave home as a backup.
When you take the synced EHD on the road to use with your laptop, how do you sync it back up with your desktop when you return?
 
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I take the master EHD which holds the images pointed to by the LR Catalog. this is my "P" drive (P for Photos). The copy I leave home is a backup copy of that drive and this drive is unknown to LrC. I call this one the "Q" drive. So, when I come home I just plug the P drive into my desktop computer. I then run copy the catlog back to my C drive and run the same synch utility to refresh the Q drive with whatever I did on the road.

I am using some ancient (from the 1980's) , very simplistic backup tool called "Second Copy" to bring the Q dirve up to match the P drive. But you could use any number of tools such as GoodSync among others.
 
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I used to use Google Drive, or more recently Microsoft OneDrive (and many others through the years) to store the images and catalog.
You just have to ensure syncing is complete, and it works fine. However if sync is not complete, you can corrupt the catalog or get a conflict.
So be sure you have good backups.

Otherwise, I did this to switch between a laptop and a desktop for over a decade.

Tim
 
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I used to use the laptop as a travel catalog and then use the "Import from another Catalog " function to merge that catalog into my master catalog. With the Advent of Lightroom Mobile and the desire to travel lighter, I now use a 12.9" iPadPro as a replacement for my 13" MBP.
By using Lightroom Classic's sync capabilities, I have most of my images available as SmartDNGs (Smart Previews) in the Adobe Cloud and I increased my plan Storage to 1 TB to permit me to import full size image files to the Adobe Cloud from Lightroom Mobile and then down to my Master LrC catalog. This has worked well for me and I have adapted my workflow to the sync limitations between LrC and the Adobe Cloud. I add keywords and delete images from my Master Catalog only. Rejecting (X) images in Lightroom. The Adobe Cloud integrates nicely with Adobe Portfolio allowing me to create Web page sharing of my image albums in Portfolio.
 
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Gretchen,

I love threads like this because I can see how other serious shooters use LR over laptops and the base studio desktop PC. There are a lot of ways to do it and Cletus and I have talked about this a lot and I'm trying to learn from his tips as well as how other LR Gurus here do this.

I am paranoid about this and have my way of doing it that works for me, but I am considering a change to more of like Clete does (sort of). I'm a travel photographer, gearhead and tech junkie with two high-end laptops (13 and 15 inch for travel), and a desktop that is my base and that I build.

That PC is a pretty powerful gaming rig and I use it as the base for all of my work. The two laptops are Dell XPS 13 and 15 (the top-end of those two models). The tablet is a Samsung, but I never use it for any of my image editing or LR work. It is only for viewing images off of Flickr or internet surfing / reading. Same with the phone. I do zero photography work on the phone, even though the phone has a great camera (Google Pixel 7).

I also stay away from anything that is LR-related in the cloud. I have zero images stored in cloud and use only LR Classic, thus avoiding the mobs of daily sync issues that fill the forum here. I shoot only raw, and my images files are100% kept on an internal 8TB SATA SSD (which can be had for about 700 bucks now on my desktop. Those images are of course backed up several times. I use 8 TB external HDDs for backup, and I have 4 of them (one kept off site). Each of those 4 external disks are exact copies of my pictures folder on the 8 TB SSD. I use GoodSync for that and sync those drives once a week or so.

When I travel, which is a lot, I carry lots of camera gear (Fuji GFX and Leica Q2) and one of the two laptops. Those laptops each have LR Classic and PS. They have blank catalogues and no images stored on the drive. The laptop I leave home with is a clean slate. Then on the trip I shoot every day and that night in the hotel or wherever my wife and I stay, I import my shots into the laptop and start doing the LR work. I add key words, titles, captions and edit the file names to something I like for that trip. Then I start editing the raws in the dev module. Then I back the files up on an external 2 TB SSD and go to bed. The next day, I start shooting again with a clean card and do the same thing every night.

Some of these trips last two months and most a month. For example, I just shot in Sicily for 6 weeks and my laptop had 3,000 LR-edited raw files on it when I returned home.

Within 5 hours of getting home, I took my 2 TB SSD that I backed up every night to from my laptop and connected it to my PC. It had all of the edited raw files on it in a folder. I copied the folder that contained the 3,000 edited raw files to my 8TB SSD on the PC. Then I imported that folder to my LR catalog on my PC. No Exporting or importing the catalog. I do not import the catalog - only the raw files, which of course have had changes written to them on the laptop while I did the work on the road. In LR you can direct the program to write changes to file (not just to the cat), which creates sidecar files for proprietary raw files (like with Fuji RAF files) or writes the edits to the DNG directly with no sidecar (like with Leica DNG).

Not "exporting as catalog" from my laptop to the PC, which is how Adobe intends it to be done, has several advantages but also some disadvantages. The advantages are that I control the folder structure and copying of raw files from my laptop to PC, and it is easier and less chance for LR to pollute my folder structure and naming conventions. But relying on the sidecar files to bring over all the edits (and not the catalog) means you lose some work you did on the laptop because there are some things we do in LR that are external to the file itself that are not written to the sidecar files (like flags, virtual copies, stacks and stuff like that). I don't consider any of those things to be a big deal to lose, so I do it that way.

Anyway, I use no cloud syncing stuff on my LR work between laptop and PC. I keep my catalog on the internal boot SSD NVMe M.2 PCIe 4). The catalog on the laptop for work on the road is a blank slate and always empty after I get back home and load into my PC.

Doing it my way is clean and I keep exact control of what is happening with none of the syncing catalog confusion that is rampant in the LR Universe, but it also means I can only work on the images from that trip or shoot on the laptop. Everything else is back home on the studio PC where the LR Master Catalog is. By the way, I have about 200,000 image files on my PC's internal 8TB SSD all in one folder. That's a lot, but it is from a lifetime of shooting and includes scans of film and slides (TIFF) and al lot of jpegs that I shot before I started shooting raw-only 15 years ago).

I was determined to start exporting the catalog from the laptop to the PC after shoots and trips where I'm working on the road on the laptop and then come home to the PC. I tried that again recently, but I still don't like it and it freaks me out. You have to be careful or LR will mess with your folder structure and naming conventions, and I don't want it touching mine.
 
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@Gregg, Your workflow seems sound - especially as it works for you. If others wish to emulate this there are a couple of minor points in this model which i'll mention below. These are not significant but are good to know in case they are something you care about.

1) When you import the "edited RAW" files, you will get final state of the edits but not the history of how they got there. In other words the history panel for the images will be empty.

2) If you make significant use of collections, any such work done on the laptop on the road will not be transmitted to the desktop upon import

3) Depending on how you establish your empty catalog on the laptop when you leave for your trip, you may or may not have some or all of your exising keywords available in the Keyword List while on the road.

4) It would be good if the LR preferences and settings on the desktop and the laptops were the same. Likewise, if you make use of plugin's it would be good to keep the ones on the laptops the same as on the desktop.

PS - if you use "Import from another catalog" to merge the trip into the desktop catalog instead of just a straight import, you would not have point 1 or 2. But you need to experiment ahead of time to determine which settings to use on the Import from another catalog dialog box. Some settings will maintain your laptop folder structure and some will not.
 
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Adding to @Califdan's points, starting with a blank catalogue means you'll inevitably enter keywords differently with spellings and plural/singular issues, while missing other keywords. You can avoid this by exporting the keyword list from the main catalogue and importing it into the blank one, or by avoiding keywording when on the road, or by spending time tidying up afterwards.

Also, unlike Import from Catalog, any previews will need to be rebuilt (ie there's a performance hit) if you simply transfer and re-import files.

For a variety of reasons, I would not generally recommend reliance on xmp sidecars which is best described as crude rather than clean. LrC's Import from Catalog moved us get beyond Bridge-era methods.
 
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I also stay away from anything that is LR-related in the cloud. I have zero images stored in cloud and use only LR Classic, thus avoiding the mobs of daily sync issues that fill the forum here.

Greg,

Just a counter point. I have had two sync issues with Lr Cloud. Both were about a year ago, and were obviously teething pains with the application. Both caused by specific conditions which are most likely edge cases. Both have been solved, and for the past couple years as I watched Lr Could grow, I would say that these types of issues have continued to decline. I can get into the details if curious.

However, what I would say is that I have found the sync system extremely robust within Lr Cloud ecosystem. Significantly better, less risky, and more reliable than the multi-catalog Classic solutions or moving the catalog around with Classic.

Tim
 
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Greg,

Just a counter point. I have had two sync issues with Lr Cloud. Both were about a year ago, and were obviously teething pains with the application. Both caused by specific conditions which are most likely edge cases. Both have been solved, and for the past couple years as I watched Lr Could grow, I would say that these types of issues have continued to decline. I can get into the details if curious.

However, what I would say is that I have found the sync system extremely robust within Lr Cloud ecosystem. Significantly better, less risky, and more reliable than the multi-catalog Classic solutions or moving the catalog around with Classic.

Tim
Hey Tim,

Good point and I will switch at some point. I have blazing fast fiber internet at home but often not on the road. Right now, I like all of my raw files on a big 8TB SSD tucked nicely in my PC at home, and my program and catalog tucked nicely into the boot drive (fast and best SSD). On the road, I want to work on my raw files and view at full res with everything nicely tucked into that one boot SSD (including the image files). Sometimes I have no internet at all on the road and want to be able to post process my files on the laptop even with no or very slow internet.
Anyway, I get what you are saying and I'm keeping my eye on the ball. I see that I need to get there. Maybe in a couple of years. We will see. There will come a day where I have 7 TB of images in cloud storage and be running two laptops and a PC all synced on the cloud version of LR.
But not yet. Not yet....
 
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@Gregg, Your workflow seems sound - especially as it works for you. If others wish to emulate this there are a couple of minor points in this model which i'll mention below. These are not significant but are good to know in case they are something you care about.

1) When you import the "edited RAW" files, you will get final state of the edits but not the history of how they got there. In other words the history panel for the images will be empty.

2) If you make significant use of collections, any such work done on the laptop on the road will not be transmitted to the desktop upon import

3) Depending on how you establish your empty catalog on the laptop when you leave for your trip, you may or may not have some or all of your exising keywords available in the Keyword List while on the road.

4) It would be good if the LR preferences and settings on the desktop and the laptops were the same. Likewise, if you make use of plugin's it would be good to keep the ones on the laptops the same as on the desktop.

PS - if you use "Import from another catalog" to merge the trip into the desktop catalog instead of just a straight import, you would not have point 1 or 2. But you need to experiment ahead of time to determine which settings to use on the Import from another catalog dialog box. Some settings will maintain your laptop folder structure and some will not.
Dan,
Thanks so much for the tips. They are instructive for all here, not just me. I knew all of this from experience and previous posts by Victoria about this on earlier threads. I just repeated my strange workflow here on this thread for the OP.
I know what work I am losing by doing the straight copy of edited raw files from my laptop to my PC and then just the straight import relying solely on XMP (sidecar files or write to the DNG) for all the work done on the laptop to transfer to the PC without importing or syncing the catalogs.
So, let's cover what affect it has on me. Here is what I lose doing not transferring/syncing the catalog but just relying on XMP data and the impact it has on me:

- History: History does not transfer. I don't care about history and never have. I know how to edit my images to get what I want, and I have no desire to record every change of a slider or input of any kind for future reference.

- Collections: I never use them on the road and rarely use them at home. I know collections are a powerful tool in LR. I just never use it, mainly because I'm a travel shooter and I have a folder for each shoot or trip I've done for the past 40 years. Plus, my early work in raw is not key worded well. It is now though.

- Preferences: They are the same on my laptops and PC. Plug-ins are the same.

- Key Word Master List. The key words I put in on the road on the laptop do transfer with the XMP data. The master list is of course separate and does not match between systems, but it is not a problem for me. But that is a good point that I have not thought of.

- Virtual Copy: You did not mention this, but virtual copies don't transfer with XMP. It does hurt me to lose the virtual copies I make on the road. I use them a lot to do B&W versions of the edit.

- Flags. Flags don't transfer in XMP. That has no impact on me. Flags are just a tool I use early in postprocessing, and I don't care if the transfer to me PC.

- Previews. Doing it my way means the 1:1 previews already built in post on the laptop don't transfer with the catalog to the PC. So when I import a folder already copied to the PC, The system starts building 1:1 previews again. That is an important point. For example, after my Sicily trip I came home and the import was 4,000 raw files. I sat there and watch my rig launch into the stratosphere as it built 4000 1:1 previews, which I think is the same thing as building 4000 full size jpegs! That is a serious computing task and could be avoided by importing the cat the right way vs my way.

Anyway, I will keep my eye on doing it the way you guys all do. I know that is the way Adobe intended, but I don't like the results and the mess it can make. But I also know that is my fault because if I practiced it a few times with sample files that I could just later delete if it gets messy, I would learn exactly how to tailor that dialog box on importing the laptop cat to the PC and avoid the less it can make with folder structure and folder/file names.
 
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Sometimes I have no internet at all on the road and want to be able to post process my files on the laptop even with no or very slow internet.

I do this all the time. My primary laptop with gobs of local storage. On that laptop I have originals and smartpreviews both set to store locally. When I have no internet (e.g. flying across the country, or even in a car when the wife is driving), some functionality is not available. Such as the AI based search tool, or the ability to rename an album.
On slow connections, such as at hotels, I have not seen too much of a performance hit on the laptop with everything local when working the images. I do see that the upload of imported new images does take a long while.... . As for my backup travel machine, with limited disk space, I will selectively set some albums to be local. These are the albums I am actively working on. Because it is much more limited; I definitely do see an impact on performance based on network speed.

Note: Windows LrD (I do not have a Mac so I never checked), has three settings for the cache and storage of images. You can set the cache size, enable smart preview cache (which is on drive C only), or enable storage of all originals which can be any local location.

Tim
 
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A couple of details:

History - think of it as an Undo that survives restarting LR and transferring work to another machine, and which can be used in Before / After review of your efforts

Virtual Copies - consider using snapshots which are saved to xmp. There's a plugin called Snapshotter which converts VCs to snapshots.
 
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