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Library module Intended strategy to use an external drive

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Marsha

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Operating System: Windows 10 64 bit
Exact Lightroom Version (Help menu > System Info): 6 (perpetual licence)


I am very new to Lr having previously used Nikon Capture NX. I use an ageing Dell XPS with a small (256 Gb) ssd running Windows 10 64 bit; I prefer to spend my money on camera gear and my spare time with my family. Because of the small size of the drive, and to avoid foreseeable issues with fragmentation, I installed Lr on the ssd but wish to use an external harddrive (e.g. in a separate ssd connected via an inateck enclosure) for all other Lr files.

I am mainly a social photographer, however I do occassionally do photographs for friends events (e.g. weddings, birthday celebrations etc..) from which I might have 500 images to process. In a year I take photographs in around 5 sessions a week minimum; in a year I may only have several thousand (e.g. <8k images) to archive in Lr. I will say a little more about how I am thinking of working. I am thinking of having a master Lr catalogue and an archive of all necessary Lr files on the harddrive. For larger events like weddings I plan to create a separate catalogue and work from the laptop harddrive for speed, and then in some way add this work to the master archive on the external harddrive and then delete the files from the laptop. The problem is I dont know if this would work, or if it would work how to do it.

I intend to backup of my external harddrive (I am good at backing files up) and separately keep (and archive) all of my unprocessed NEF files separately for safety. All of the help topics I have been able to fund so far have been aimed at folk with expensive machines with larger drives who need to archive their material periodically, My issue is dfferent, I know that I can not work from my laptop drive because it is too small, I therefore need to have a strategy to use a harddrive from the onset.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my problem, and sorry to having such a long first post.
 
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Hi Marsha and welcome to the forum.

I think that your strategy is quite feasible with the concern that you internal SSD is quite small even for small shoot. Your system disk needs a fair amount of free space for your computer to operate. If you run low or out your system will slow to a crawl or just stop, not what you want to happen during an event.

I think you should seriously consider some kind of upgrade for storage on your laptop. I don't know if it is possible for your system but I recently removed my DVD and replaced it with a second hard drive on my aging MacPro. If that is not possible then upgrading to a 512 GB SSD would easily give you the free space needed for Windows and an event Lightroom catalog and images.

Keeping your Master Catalog and all your archived images on an external disk is an often used strategy. The main concern here is the speed of the interface. If your laptop supports USB3 that would be best. You can use USB2 but it will be much slower.

Finally running an event catalog on you system disk and then merging it into the master catalog when you get back is fairly straight forward. Lightroom has "Import from Catalog" that handles this quite easily. You do have to also separately move all the event images from the internal SSD to your external hard drive and tell your master catalog where you put them. This is quite straight forward but will take some planning to make it easy. Check back here when you are ready to do this for the first time.

-louie
 

Marsha

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Joined
Nov 5, 2017
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Hi Marsha and welcome to the forum.

I think that your strategy is quite feasible with the concern that you internal SSD is quite small even for small shoot. Your system disk needs a fair amount of free space for your computer to operate. If you run low or out your system will slow to a crawl or just stop, not what you want to happen during an event.

I think you should seriously consider some kind of upgrade for storage on your laptop. I don't know if it is possible for your system but I recently removed my DVD and replaced it with a second hard drive on my aging MacPro. If that is not possible then upgrading to a 512 GB SSD would easily give you the free space needed for Windows and an event Lightroom catalog and images.

Keeping your Master Catalog and all your archived images on an external disk is an often used strategy. The main concern here is the speed of the interface. If your laptop supports USB3 that would be best. You can use USB2 but it will be much slower.

Finally running an event catalog on you system disk and then merging it into the master catalog when you get back is fairly straight forward. Lightroom has "Import from Catalog" that handles this quite easily. You do have to also separately move all the event images from the internal SSD to your external hard drive and tell your master catalog where you put them. This is quite straight forward but will take some planning to make it easy. Check back here when you are ready to do this for the first time.

-louie
Hi Louie,

Thank you for your reply. My laptop supports USB 3; think that some external enclosures (e.g, inateck) can make a sata or ssd external drive quite rapid for read & write. My last laptop was even older, USB 2 and running Windows 7 with <2Gb of RAM; so even my current system feels better.

My first and only experience of Lr has been to process one event, ~550 photographs all processed on a Sandisk ultrafit drive with maximum read speeds of only 150 Mb/sec and it was OK, though I accept it could be improved (generating hugh qualty JPEGs and high quality TIFF files took several hours each). I now have a catalogue file on the latop and the other Lr generated files (whatever they may be) on the ultrafit drive, as far as I am aware. I will need to add these to a newly generated master catalogue (when I dip my toe into that pool) on the new 4 Tb sata external hardrive I have purchased for that purpose. I accept that it may have been foolhardy to dive in and process the images without working out how Lr worked first, I did read most of a 800 page book (not Victoria's as I choose one of the first ones I came across) but focused more on how to manipulate images that in avoiding potential problems in archiving and organising.

I understand your point about a 512 Gb drive for the for the latop but Windows is a factory install (v8) and to put in a new ssd and try to reinstall Windows 10 feels too much like the unknown. My laptop does not have an optical drive for me to replace with a ssd. I may need to rethink my approach as a separate external ssd drive with my external sata drive may be too expensive for now. I was thinking of trying to use a 32Gb USB flashdrive to improve the performance of the system (is this called ReadyBoost or something similar) but with a ssd as my current main drive I am not sure it would improve things much.

Could I briefly ask a couple of questions to help me get started. Assuming my strategy is to use an external drive from the onset with photographs organised by calendar year and event (e.g. Photos\2017\BdayBash1Nov17)

1. I do not currently believe that I have sufficiently mastered adding metadata to the images, none of the
birthday event currently have any metadata (I skimmed this chapter in my Lr book!) for example.
What directory structure/folder structure would make sense for my master archive? Do people have
separate subfolders for things like pdf eBooks and other exported output and/or separate folder for
Lr catalogue, previews etc...?

2. If I use Windows explorer to copy that directory structure and file contents to another drive
when backing up, could Lr use that backup directly without any further user manipulation by me,
(assuming the volume names were the same and the backup drive had the same identification
(e.g. D: drive))?

Thanks again for any help that can be given.

M
 
Joined
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Location
Encinitas, CA USA
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Marsha,

Regarding the folder structures for your actual raw image files. Setting aside the Windows C, D, F disk names for a second, the best advice is keep it as simple as possible. All of your metadata, organization and even develop settings are kept in the catalog and as such are extremely easy to change. The file folders are simply the location where the image data is stored. Ideally for your master archive you will want to setup a simple convention and once the image files land there it is unlikely that you will need to change.

The most common method use by many is just a simple date based folder scheme. LR import has several built in styles to support this. One important point is to create a top level folder to be the container for all your images for catalog. This makes follow on tasks much easier. I happen to use the YYYY/YYYY-MM/YYYY-MM-DD import preset to organize my images. I specifically use the duplication of the year and month at lower levels to eliminate any confusion when browsing folders. You can create simpler ones but when you are in a folder named "09" is this a month or a day and no idea which year so I opt for clarity.

As an event photographer I see that you are inclined to want to add the event name in the folder structure. Nothing wrong with that but don't get hung up on trying to create the perfect set of folders. Using Collections and Smart Collections is really the most effective way to add much of your organization. For example as part of the Import you can assign one or more keywords. One of those could be the event name which is easily use to locate all the images for the event either by the Library filter bar or with a Smart Collection. It sounds like you create a number of derivative products. There are built in collections for printing, books and slide shows among others.

You want to avoid moving image files using Windows Explorer when ever possible. Any changes you want to make for any files/folders within your top level "Photos" is almost always better done within Lightroom. This will automatically update you catalog with all the changes. However, since you will need to move images from your Laptop to your master archive you will need to learn how to do that safely out side of Lightroom. It is quite easy and well described elsewhere when you get to that point.

For backups I highly recommend a "real" incremental backup program that runs on an automatic schedule. In the long run it is the safest idea. I use Time Machine on my Mac but I know that there are equivalent apps for Windows. I'm sure that some of the Windows experts will give you some good options.

This is a lot to digest. So take your time and come back here frequently whenever you have more questions.

-louie
 
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