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Is there any point storing a copy of all files locally?

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  1. macOS 10.13 High Sierra
I’m about to upgrade my Mac (my 11 year old Mac Mini is long past its prime, stuck on High Sierra, and no longer compatible with Lightroom updates). I’m currently pricing options and debating how much of the Apple tax to pay on hard drive upgrades. It’s more difficult since the M1s aren‘t upgradable at all. Essentially the only reason for going 1TB over 512GB would be to store all copies locally. I’ve always done this because I could, but I’m wondering what I actually get for this and whether it’s really necessary.

I could still download smart profiles for everything (although it’s a desktop and I have very fast broadband so don’t really need offline). Does having the originals local offer any benefit over smart previews? Similarly, it doesn’t really seem to be much use as a backup, since the cloud catalogue is always the master and anyway it’s just the unadjusted originals.

I could store them on a NAS or an external drive, but don’t want to lose out on performance. Does Lightroom actually work off the originals or would it be working off other cached files that would be on the internal drive?
 

DaveMCO

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I’m fairly sure that LR does nothing with the originals that you ask it to store locally. It’s only there for a “backup.”

That said, I decided to use LR Mobile, LR, and LRC and link them together in such a way as to keep all of my originals (full res) in the cloud and locally AND still be able to work on the local images (which have all edits done locally or the cloud). You can sync edits and originals across the ecosystem if you wish.

But, to answer your question directly: if you are only going to use LR/LR Mobile my personal view would be to buy a 1-2TB external drive and a second as a backup to it keep all of my originals on them as a backup to the cloud. Why? I believe that Adobe WILL mess up some day (they already did for some LR-Mobile users) and image files will be lost. I would kick myself if I didn’t have a backup.

Also, the new M1 macs are not expandable but should (like most macs, including the mini you own now) last a long time. Probably a good idea to get an internal 1TB and the 16gig RAM. — future proofing......

There, I just advised you to buy the current Mini Cadillac AND 2 external hard drives! Spending other people’s money is EASY. Lol
 
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Even if you do not check the option to store a local copy in the preferences, you may find that there will be a few copies of originals in the location you assigned. These are copies of images you edited recently, and where you zoomed in to 100% when making these edits. That means that storing a local copy of all images may speed up Lightroom a little in these circumstances.
 

DaveMCO

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Joined
Feb 22, 2021
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Even if you do not check the option to store a local copy in the preferences, you may find that there will be a few copies of originals in the location you assigned. These are copies of images you edited recently, and where you zoomed in to 100% when making these edits. That means that storing a local copy of all images may speed up Lightroom a little in these circumstances.
I think that you are correct. I had not considered that the “cache” file is also used for “storing all originals locally”. It makes sense that what you are saying is correct.
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
13
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
I’m fairly sure that LR does nothing with the originals that you ask it to store locally. It’s only there for a “backup.”

That said, I decided to use LR Mobile, LR, and LRC and link them together in such a way as to keep all of my originals (full res) in the cloud and locally AND still be able to work on the local images (which have all edits done locally or the cloud). You can sync edits and originals across the ecosystem if you wish.

But, to answer your question directly: if you are only going to use LR/LR Mobile my personal view would be to buy a 1-2TB external drive and a second as a backup to it keep all of my originals on them as a backup to the cloud. Why? I believe that Adobe WILL mess up some day (they already did for some LR-Mobile users) and image files will be lost. I would kick myself if I didn’t have a backup.

Also, the new M1 macs are not expandable but should (like most macs, including the mini you own now) last a long time. Probably a good idea to get an internal 1TB and the 16gig RAM. — future proofing......

There, I just advised you to buy the current Mini Cadillac AND 2 external hard drives! Spending other people’s money is EASY. Lol
Thanks for this.

I have external drives so no extra cost needed there, and I could use those, but if the local copies are acting as a cache as opposed to just backup, I don’t really want to sacrifice performance.

That said, my natural instinct is just to max out, but I do object to the markups Apple applies. I’m less convinced by going to 16 GB ram. Most of what I’ve seen suggests that makes little to no performance impact unless you‘re doing hardcore video stuff, which I don’t.

For what it’s worth, prior to moving to cloudy about 18 months ago, I did use a mix, but found it really frustrating. E.g. Photos synced up from your camera roll ended up in a weird sub library. The process is just more seamless and I don’t miss any of the missing things (but others’ mileage may vary).

The mobile thing where users lost photos, while not forgivable, does seem to be an edge use case, where users hadn’t synced content to the cloud and as a result of trying to use the app for free. I’d expect the cloud solution to be more robust than most home backups (although it would be nice if they were a little more forthcoming about just how backed up things are). That said, if Adobe did totally mess up and lose my whole library in some unrecoverable way, going back to unadjusted originals would still leave me losing a tremendous amount of work. There are presumably better ways to combat that worry (e.g. download the whole catalog to an external drive using Adobe’s downloaded app, and then incrementally export finished projects and / or take a local copy of new originals when uploading to the cloud.
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
13
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Even if you do not check the option to store a local copy in the preferences, you may find that there will be a few copies of originals in the location you assigned. These are copies of images you edited recently, and where you zoomed in to 100% when making these edits. That means that storing a local copy of all images may speed up Lightroom a little in these circumstances.
Will it always try to use the local image (wherever that may be stored), or would it move what you’re working on into the cache file on the main internal hard drive? Want to avoid any performance penalty if, say, I put the local copies on a NAS. fine for backup, but I wouldn’t want to be working off that.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
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Will it always try to use the local image (wherever that may be stored), or would it move what you’re working on into the cache file on the main internal hard drive? Want to avoid any performance penalty if, say, I put the local copies on a NAS. fine for backup, but I wouldn’t want to be working off that.

It depends on what you are doing with the images in Lightroom. My understanding is that the original file is only needed when either you zoom into 1:1, or start to edit, up to that point the images or thumbnails are simply previews which are stored in the local library on the system drive. But 1:1 or editing requires the original file to be read, and converted in the case of raw files, but that results in a special preview which is cached in system memory and updated as you make changes.....it's basically the same process that Lightroom Classic uses. Once cached, there is no further need to continue to access the original while you are working on it. Once removed from the system cache, of course, it will again be read from the NAS if you start doing more work on it.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
12,840
Location
West Sussex, UK
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
That said, my natural instinct is just to max out, but I do object to the markups Apple applies. I’m less convinced by going to 16 GB ram. Most of what I’ve seen suggests that makes little to no performance impact unless you‘re doing hardcore video stuff, which I don’t.

Personally, if I were buying an M1 Mini (and I did consider it) I'd definitely max out the RAM. The fact that I can't upgrade it afterwards would be an issue if/when new features are added to Lightroom that would make use of more RAM, so I'd be kicking myself if I'd only bought the 8Gb version. I hate the Apple tax as well, but sometimes we have put up with it. But as I said, that's just my own perspective.

For what it’s worth, prior to moving to cloudy about 18 months ago, I did use a mix, but found it really frustrating. E.g. Photos synced up from your camera roll ended up in a weird sub library. The process is just more seamless and I don’t miss any of the missing things (but others’ mileage may vary).

Possibly you weren't aware that you have the option to change the default location for images stored in LrClassic which are synced down from the cloud. I do use mix of Lightroom and LrC, but all images from whatever source are stored in the same date-based folder structure in LrC (Preferences>Lightroom Sync tab).

The mobile thing where users lost photos, while not forgivable, does seem to be an edge use case, where users hadn’t synced content to the cloud and as a result of trying to use the app for free. I’d expect the cloud solution to be more robust than most home backups (although it would be nice if they were a little more forthcoming about just how backed up things are). That said, if Adobe did totally mess up and lose my whole library in some unrecoverable way, going back to unadjusted originals would still leave me losing a tremendous amount of work. There are presumably better ways to combat that worry (e.g. download the whole catalog to an external drive using Adobe’s downloaded app, and then incrementally export finished projects and / or take a local copy of new originals when uploading to the cloud.
Because I use a hybrid workflow (using both cloud and LrC, but all images stored in the cloud are originals, not Smart Previews synced up from LrC), I can effectively use each app as the backup to the other. But if I was cloud-only, it does get a little more complicated to maintain a local backup of both data and edits to be used in the event of a disaster at Adobe (which we hope never happens of course). Maintaining a local copy of the cloud originals is easy enough to do, but maintaining a local copy of the changes (edits and metadata) is a lot more difficult.

In theory the Lightroom Downloader app could be used to create a complete local backup of cloud data (with regular incremental update runs to maintain currency of the backup), but in practice I've found some holes in the app which I don't think have been fixed yet. The only other viable alternative would be to export all images using "Original + Settings", but that's a really manual job to maintain currency there. Some form of "Publish Service" would be a great help with that particular task.

But until that happens, or until they fix the Downloader app, I guess I'll stick with my current hybrid workflow, even if I eventually switch all processing to the cloud apps and just use Classic as my local backup from which I could reconstitute my cloud account if needed.
 
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