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Setup Lightroom Catalog with a NAS

LIGISTX

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I am new here, but I have been working with lightroom some for about a year now. I am far from pro, heck, even saying novice may be a stretch. That being said, I am a huge tech junky and am currently setting up a new NAS under FreeNAS to store my pictures as well as other stuff.

My current workflow is to say the least, totally horrible. I am a young professional and due to my work location I am at my apt half the time and the other half at my parents house. Suffice it to say, working out of two places is a huge PITA. This will soon be changing as I have a new job lined up and I will be a bit far away from the rents and will be more elusively using my computer.

Since I have never been stationary since college when I wasn't a big camera buff, I have never even bothered to set up lightroom in a well thought out way. So I will be starting from 100% scratch here. I have all my images, but I will be creating a new catalog and everything. I have about 1 TB of images for reference.

I plan to store these on a new NAS I will be building soon, it should be plenty fast, if you are unfamiliar with FreeNAS is a very robust and resilient solution, but it takes some solid hardware to run it. Point is, IT IN ITSELF will not be my issue, but my gigabit Ethernet may be, which is why I am inquiring about some potential things before I try them out (the nas should be able to saturate gigabit MANY MANY times over).

Firstly, let me lay out the current plan. As stated I will store all images on the NAS, imported through lightroom which I plan to have create 1:1 previews upon import (I also plan to import all 1TB of photos and have it create 1:1 previews, yea, that will take a week, or 2....). First question here, how big will this make my catalog? I can easily dedicate say 120 gigs to my lightroom catalog, but if a 1:1 preview is say 50% of the original image in size, that won't work, it will be to large. Assuming my plan would work, this should allow me to navigate around my library as if it was on local storage, correct?

Assuming that plan doesn't work, would making it import as a smart preview afford the level of performance I am after? I really want to be able to just move through the YEARS of photos with ease, as if it was all on local SSD. Would that reduce the catalog size to be reasonable as well?

Also, seeing as I am totally new to this aspect of lightroom, any other advice anyone can provide would be awesome.

Also, being new here, any specific threads or other forums anyone can point me to that would help for this firstly, and also just becoming a better photographer/editor, that would be amazing. I have great gear, but that is not even half the story of being a good photographer. I could definitely use some skill honing ;)

Thanks!
 

Gnits

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The obvious comment to make is that you cannot place your Catalog on the Nas (and you may know that already).

The issue with Nas is the potential bottleneck of speed and performance via the network. A 1 Gb connection is only Giga bits. I bought a Synology Nas several years ago to store my images and use with Lr, but abandoned that for an internal ssd + hd for performance reasons. I suspect there are many who may be happy with their images on a NAS.
Some people will use their local drive for recent work and then transfer the older stuff to NAS.

It was not the pure performance of Lr which was the issue for me... but many of the side factors ...
Eg .
Importing my raw images from an SD card over a network connection was painfully slow (for me).
The time to save large PSD files.
The length of time it took to do a backup.

When you set up your drive, do a test to copy an SD card full of raw images to the NAS and time how long it takes.

I notice that NAS drives now can be purchased with much faster network interface speeds, but if using such devices you need to make sure your network, router, switches can also work at the increased bandwidth.

My NAS is currently used as a store to deliver networked music to various room and an occasional source of a backup for my images. I have 3 TB drives in 4 slots. I shortly plan to replace all 4 of the 3 TB mechanical drives with a 1 TB ssd drive. This is to eliminate the need for 4 spinning mechanical disks to be replaced by a single SSD drive, ample for my music and misc files.

You will get different stories and experiences from different users. I am amazed that we have not seen more general availability of network cards and devices greater than 1 Gb.

While NAS was not the optimum solution for me, it maybe for you.
 

LIGISTX

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The obvious comment to make is that you cannot place your Catalog on the Nas (and you may know that already).

The issue with Nas is the potential bottleneck of speed and performance via the network. A 1 Gb connection is only Giga bits. I bought a Synology Nas several years ago to store my images and use with Lr, but abandoned that for an internal ssd + hd for performance reasons. I suspect there are many who may be happy with their images on a NAS.
Some people will use their local drive for recent work and then transfer the older stuff to NAS.

It was not the pure performance of Lr which was the issue for me... but many of the side factors ...
Eg .
Importing my raw images from an SD card over a network connection was painfully slow (for me).
The time to save large PSD files.
The length of time it took to do a backup.

When you set up your drive, do a test to copy an SD card full of raw images to the NAS and time how long it takes.

I notice that NAS drives now can be purchased with much faster network interface speeds, but if using such devices you need to make sure your network, router, switches can also work at the increased bandwidth.

My NAS is currently used as a store to deliver networked music to various room and an occasional source of a backup for my images. I have 3 TB drives in 4 slots. I shortly plan to replace all 4 of the 3 TB mechanical drives with a 1 TB ssd drive. This is to eliminate the need for 4 spinning mechanical disks to be replaced by a single SSD drive, ample for my music and misc files.

You will get different stories and experiences from different users. I am amazed that we have not seen more general availability of network cards and devices greater than 1 Gb.

While NAS was not the optimum solution for me, it maybe for you.
Yea, the catalog would be on my local SSD, and importing isn't a huge issue for me. I take on average maybe 400 pictures a month, nothing that would present a huge issue as far as import goes. If it is, I could always import to my local drive and move the images later.

The real question is about 1:1 previews. I plan to use 1:1 previews for my entire library which I *think* would make it feel as if the library was local not networked. I am just unsure how large this will make my catalog.

Also, I am a quiet computer nut, so putting a spinning disc in my main computer isn't an option, well, it also wouldn't fit. My harddrive cages have been replaced by water-cooling radiators...


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LIGISTX

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Also, worth noting, gigabit is 125 MB/s. So assuming my entire 32GB CF card is full, it will only take 4 minutes to import over the network. The 1:1 preview generation will take ages longer then that. So I'm not so worried about that aspect.


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Gnits

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Also, worth noting, gigabit is 125 MB/s.
I will do a real world test of a recent shoot, copying from my Desktop to the Synology box later this evening and post my results. My network is connected via a commercial grade managed switch but is 1Gb as are the card to my desktop. Not sure of the specs to my Synology box.

You are correct, 400 pictures per month is not going to be a challenge in terms of adding image files to your data store.

(Ps. The 125MB/s does not take account of the networking protocols, data wrappers and the ability of your switch / router / source device and NAS to drive this throughput. )

I am happy to use 1:1 previews for the default 30 days. Basically, I edit my images within a few days of capture. After that I am usually working on the occasional 4-5 star image a month or so later ....so do not see a value in clogging up my storage with the 1:1 previews.

I am anxiously waiting for Adobe to deal with performance associated with reviewing images quickly in the Library module and will defer making any changes to my current workflow until (if) Adobe improve this critical performance area and I understand any underlying architectural changes to make that happen.

I am sure that some of the other experts on this forum will be able to give you bettter feedback than I in relation to 1:1 previews.

(PPS. You also need to factor in how you intend to backup your Nas).
 

LIGISTX

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I will do a real world test of a recent shoot, copying from my Desktop to the Synology box later this evening and post my results. My network is connected via a commercial grade managed switch but is 1Gb as are the card to my desktop. Not sure of the specs to my Synology box.

You are correct, 400 pictures per month is not going to be a challenge in terms of adding image files to your data store.

(Ps. The 125MB/s does not take account of the networking protocols, data wrappers and the ability of your switch / router / source device and NAS to drive this throughput. )

I am happy to use 1:1 previews for the default 30 days. Basically, I edit my images within a few days of capture. After that I am usually working on the occasional 4-5 star image a month or so later ....so do not see a value in clogging up my storage with the 1:1 previews.

I am anxiously waiting for Adobe to deal with performance associated with reviewing images quickly in the Library module and will defer making any changes to my current workflow until (if) Adobe improve this critical performance area and I understand any underlying architectural changes to make that happen.

I am sure that some of the other experts on this forum will be able to give you bettter feedback than I in relation to 1:1 previews.

(PPS. You also need to factor in how you intend to backup your Nas).
Ok. That is a bit helpful. To address a few of my particulars, I use a way over powdered router, it's based on s core i3, 8 gigs of ram, an SSD (which is totally meaningless but I had it sitting around) and it runs on Pfsense. Routing ability won't be the bottleneck. That being said, my switches shouldn't either, they are unmanaged switches so theoretically shouldn't slow anything down. If they do that's a simple upgrade.

Thanks for the help with this!


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Gnits

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124 raw files (2.9GB) , each approx 24MB took approx 4.5 mins to copy from my Windows PC to my Synology NAS. The progress graph was consistently showing a throughput of approx 11.1MB/s

There was no other traffic on my network at the time (ie I was the only user and now downloads uploads in progress.

This is very workable with your projected volumes.

Where you have to be careful is dealing with specific batch activities, such as exporting a lot of files.

My network is 1Gb ... which is theoretically 125MB/s but actual throughput was slower by a factor of nearly 10.

My psd files are often between 500Mb and 1000Mb so it will take approx 45-90 seconds to load / save a psd file from Photoshop. This drove me crazy at the time, so I opted to keep my images on internal drives.
 

LIGISTX

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124 raw files (2.9GB) , each approx 24MB took approx 4.5 mins to copy from my Windows PC to my Synology NAS. The progress graph was consistently showing a throughput of approx 11.1MB/s

There was no other traffic on my network at the time (ie I was the only user and now downloads uploads in progress.

This is very workable with your projected volumes.

Where you have to be careful is dealing with specific batch activities, such as exporting a lot of files.

My network is 1Gb ... which is theoretically 125MB/s but actual throughput was slower by a factor of nearly 10.

My psd files are often between 500Mb and 1000Mb so it will take approx 45-90 seconds to load / save a psd file from Photoshop. This drove me crazy at the time, so I opted to keep my images on internal drives.
That's good info. Mine should be quicker since I have a beefier network setup (still gigabit, but everything is way overpowered for gigabit traffic) and the server will likely be much faster then the synology NAS. It's more enterprise grade then consumer grade.

I still need to determine how my catalog will work as at as file size with a lot of 1:1 previews, or possibly smart previews. I guess I may just have to experiment myself.


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Gnits

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Your previews will be stored in a folder close to your Catalog.... not on the NAS.
 

LIGISTX

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Your previews will be stored in a folder close to your Catalog.... not on the NAS.
O, it's not part of the catalog? Ok good to know. And yea I would definitely keep that on my local system on an SSD, I just don't know how large that file/folder will grow.

I need to find out what the ratio is, RAW image size to 1:1 preview size.


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PhilBurton

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I am new here, but I have been working with lightroom some for about a year now. I am far from pro, heck, even saying novice may be a stretch. That being said, I am a huge tech junky and am currently setting up a new NAS under FreeNAS to store my pictures as well as other stuff.

....

I plan to store these on a new NAS I will be building soon, it should be plenty fast, if you are unfamiliar with FreeNAS is a very robust and resilient solution, but it takes some solid hardware to run it. Point is, IT IN ITSELF will not be my issue, but my gigabit Ethernet may be, which is why I am inquiring about some potential things before I try them out (the nas should be able to saturate gigabit MANY MANY times over).

....
Can you post your parts list or performance specifications for your NAS.

Thanks,

Phil
 

LIGISTX

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Can you post your parts list or performance specifications for your NAS.

Thanks,

Phil
It will be a freenas box, I plan to run a i3-6100, 16 gigs of ECC ram and 8x4TB drives. Either ironwolfs or wd red's in RAID Z2.


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Last edited:

LIGISTX

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Anyone have any further info?


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LIGISTX

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In the past month i shot 130 Gb images (DNG) and the 1:1 previes created takes 15,5 Gb
Based on that we are looking at about 12% of the image size.

So realistically I would need to dedicate a 250 GB SSD just to 1:1 previews if I was to do it the way I had planned.

Good thing you can pick up a 250 for like 80-100 these days! Lol.


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