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Splitting my catalog between LR Classic and Lightroom on the Cloud

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Apr 27, 2020
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I have posted this in the Adobe Support Community asking for feedback and suggestions, but I would appreciate very much any feedback from the members of this forum.

Adobe ID
Welcome to the forum. You should probably post your question here as Adobe requires sign in to be able to access their support.

I wondered about that. Here are my postings. Happy reading.

First post:
I have been using Lightroom Classic for many years; and when Adobe created the cloud version, I started using it for individual collections within my Classic catalog on my desktop. My editing in Lightroom away from my desktop was on my Android phone and tablets; and, of course, my changes on these devices synced back to Lightroom Classic on my desktop.

This past month things have gotten a bit more complicated. I have inherited a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and I want to use it for my photo editing as well. I use plugins such as DxO PhotoLab 3 and the Nik Collection; and the Surface, being a Windows machine, enables me to use these plugins away from my desktop. All my photos are currently on a 4TB portable hard drive (only about half used up) which enables me to switch between the desktop and the Surface; but that means carrying around the hard drive and a powered hub when I go the coffee shop to relax and do some photo editing.

My plan is this; and please tell me if I am crazy to try it. The photos which I would be processing through these plugins, and Photoshop as well, are broken into two high-level directories I call City Streets and Country Scenes and amount to about 700GB of storage. I would add a terabyte of cloud storage to my plan; create a new Lightroom catalog containing only these photos; create collections within this catalog by city, for example; keyword each photo within these two high-level directories with the directory names; and migrate that catalog to the Cloud.

The remaining photos which I currently have in the LR Classic catalog are mostly family photos which I normally process entirely in Lightroom. These I would keep on my desktop in a LR Classic catalog and process them away from the desktop, as I have up to now, by syncing individual collections in the form of smart previews to the Cloud.

This approach would enable me to minimize my costs while still having my full-sized raw files available to me on the go (with minimal carry-around stuff) to process as I wish. I am still figuring out the details but would much appreciate any feedback as to the practicality of this approach and potential pitfalls.

Second posting in response to mine:
The part you may not be aware of is that Lightroom Classic will automatically download everything you uploaded to Lightroom on the Surface Pro to your desktop computer with Lightroom Classic.

Why is it important to have full res originals in the cloud? Can't you accomplish everything you need to do by syncing collections from Lightroom Classic? What is it that you want to do with the Surface Pro besides editing, sharing collections and exporting jpegs for email or social media?

My response to her:
Thanks, Theres_J, for your response. I am still working out the implications of what I am thinking of doing. Yes, I am sort of aware of that "downloading of the uploads" which could conceivably trip me up if I am not careful.

I want the full res originals in the Cloud because I want to download them to my Surface over the internet and process them, outside of Lightroom, in other applications and then import the finished photo back into the Cloud. Right now at an adjacent desk I am playing with this concept. Outside of my LR Classic catalog I have imported a series if infrared photos into my 20GB of storage in the Cloud at full res. I evaluated them and exported three of them to my Surface for further offline processing.I have just now finished my processing of one of them in PhotoLab and done a channel swap in Photoshop. My next step is to do further processing in the Nik Collection for false colour and black & white versions before returning them to the Cloud and doing the final processing in Lightroom. This would be my normal processing sequence, entirely through LR Classic, if I were on my desktop. I am doing all of this on my Surface without any attached hard drive which would also require a powered hub, just a small Wacom tablet. This approach provides maximum portability because even the Wacom tablet is not entirely needed.

Aside: I'm glad you have a spell checker. The Adobe forum does not.
Hi Charles. So to check I'm on the right wavelength...

Your aim is to have City Streets and Country Scenes photos as originals in the cloud so you can use your DxO/Nik plug-ins on the other device...

Which LR software would you expect to use on your Surface Pro? Cloudy doesn't have direct links to DxO/Nik, and Classic won't play that nicely with cloud originals.

Is DxO/Nik your main reason for needing originals in the cloud? I'm wondering if Adobe cloud space is the right way to go.
Is DxO/Nik your main reason for needing originals in the cloud? I'm wondering if Adobe cloud space is the right way to go.
That was my thinking also. If I read the post correctly, Charles wants to be able to access his image library (which is on one drive) using Classic on two different computers (different catalogs on each), without having to carry the 4TB drive around. In which case, I don't see what advantage the Adobe Cloud brings, I would have thought a Dropbox-type solution would be easier (and cheaper).
I would have thought a Dropbox-type solution would be easier (and cheaper).
Amazing how often we think along similar lines...
I guess my response to both of you comes down to both minimal weight and maximum convenience. Of course, both of these come at a cost.

The last few years, once I started to sync collections to the Cloud and process the photos on my Android tablets and phone, I have thought it would be nice to have all my originals on the Cloud; but the cost was prohibitive. And certain features of LR Classic were lost. As well, I didn't have any Windows carry-around device on which to use my other photographic software. My old laptop is now good only for music and movies.

The Microsoft Surface tablet changed all that (it could have been any lightweight Windows laptop or tablet). My intention initially was to use it with a portable hard drive which would attach both to my desktop and my Surface. That drive has all my photographs and my LR catalog on it. I have worked this way in the past with my old laptop quite successfully. But I was going to need a powered hub as well for the hard drive as I couldn't trust the Surface to power it sufficiently. More stuff to carry around and the need for a power outlet wherever I went.

I analysed my photographs last week and discovered that the ones I would want to process in Windows software other than Adobe's amounted to less than a terabyte of storage. The remaining photographs can stay on my portable hard drive and be processed on my desktop, with selected collections going to the Cloud as smart previews for offsite LR processing. The cost of the additional terabyte on my Adobe plan is reasonable to me.

At my age I try to travel as light as possible. When I go around the city I want to carry a camera and a tablet (or light laptop). Shoulder bags end up hurting my back within 15 minutes. Sling bag are better but, again, affect my back eventually. The best means of carrying what I want to is a backpack. But even there I want to minimize the weight. I would rather carry extra lenses than a hard drive and other stuff for it.

So my plan is to process all photographs which require other non-Adobe Windows software using LR from the Cloud either on my desktop or the Surface, and keep all the others (primarily photographs of family and friends) on my hard drive and in my LR catalog for processing solely in the Adobe software. There will be no LR catalog on the Surface, although the possibility exists of attaching my hard drive to it. I am sure there will be issues. Printing, for example, will require exporting from the Cloud and importing into LR Classic to access the Print module and its features; but I am not doing any of that at the moment. And one LR Classic feature I will miss, as I realized late last night, is the brush auto-masking; but hopefully that feature will eventually end up in LR.

I hope all this makes sense.
I should add that I am not sure how you would implement a Dropbox-type of solution. I have moved files here and there in the past and found that the danger of ending up with two different copies of the same file a real possibility. Much discipline is required to avoid such a situation. And maintaining two separate LR catalogs is also problematic. I also thought of using smart previews in the LR catalog and moving it back and forth between the two C drives as a means of at least doing LR processing without an attached hard drive. The Surface C drive is only a 128 GB drive, sufficient for the software I want , but not the catalog as well; it was previously used for business purposes only and didn't need a large drive. But it was free.
But I was going to need a powered hub as well for the hard drive as I couldn't trust the Surface to power it sufficiently.
I do not think that would necessarily be the case with a SSD like a Smusung T5. There is no platter to spin and the power requirements should be pretty minimal. And, these drives are extremely small, light and durable. It may be worth considering if it allows you to work as you wish.

Good luck,

I hope all this makes sense.
I have to say "not entirely", but I also sense that you're pretty keen to try the plan, so I hope it works out the way you want it to. A couple of final points to be aware of:

1. I think you'll struggle quite a lot trying to manage the workflow (no matter which method you use) if you're confined to a 128GB drive, especially as you'll have to download originals to that hard drive whenever you want to process in other programs (as cloudy doesn't support plug-ins), then create derivatives for subseqent uploading. You'll really have to be careful how you manage all those files (remember that when you import the derivative back into the LR app it creates a local copy of it first, which is what it uses for uploading to the cloud). You'll also have to factor in the size of the local cloudy catalog (yes, cloudy does use catalogs) and associated cache of previews.
2. You also said you'll be planning to sync selected collections from your desktop Classic catalog, so are you planning on having two separate adobe accounts? If not, when you open the Classic catalog and enable syncing, all the contents of the "separate" cloud catalog that you've created will automatically download, in original form, into that Classic catalog.
Ken, a very good suggestion. However, right now the largest T5 I could find was only 2TB; and I would need at least 3TB at the moment as I am pushing 2TB on my current hard drives. It was in the middle of last year that I move up from 2TB to 4 for my photographic files. Please see my response to Jim following.

Jim, you are right about my being keen on trying this. I have thought about using the Cloud for over a year now; but the cost of the 3TB of Cloud storage that I would need to contain all my current photographic files, allowing for future additions, is prohibitive for now. And until now I haven't had any portable Windows machine to enable me to use non-Adobe plugins. I was tied to my desktop, so the Cloud wasn't necessary except for the collections I synced to the Cloud for processing on my Android devices. I had a number of these synced collections containing over 9000 photos; and in the process I learned that Lightroom covers at least 90% of the processing I would do in Lightroom Classic (the brush auto masking is the main exception). When I decided I could split my photographs into two sections and move only one of these to the Cloud with minimal additional cost, that was when this "crazy" idea came into being. I have already started the process.

In answer to your two points above:

1. I can always supplement the Surface's 128GB SSD drive with either a bigger micro SD card than I already have (64GB) or a small Samsung T5 SSD as Ken suggested. Which is best I'm not sure. I have had both types of storage fail on me in the past.

2. This point is a potential banana peel on the ground. I will have to see what happens when all is set up. I have already added 1TB to my current photography plan. Your suggestion of two accounts would require keeping my current photography plan at 20GB and adding a second separate plan (and account) for Lightroom with 1TB of Cloud storage (no Photoshop). Two issues here. Can my second account use the Photoshop from my first account? "No" would be a killer. And switching between accounts wold most likely require signing out and in to switch, an irritation but not insurmountable.

I never expected this to be an easy ride.
Two issues here. Can my second account use the Photoshop from my first account? "No" would be a killer. And switching between accounts wold most likely require signing out and in to switch, an irritation but not insurmountable.
Interesting question. In theory, the answer would be "No", but in practice I really don't know. Although Photoshop would still be installed on the system when you sign-in to the second account, I would expect that the Lightroom desktop app would have the "Edit in Photoshop" menu item greyed out. But I'm not 100% certain, as that's not a scenario I've tested or encountered.
I should add that another issue driving this idea is offsite backup. I have four hard drives attached to my desktop, one for my photography, one for my personal stuff, and two drives mirroring the first two. I also keep two mirrors in a safety deposit box at my bank for offsite backup, and two more at home to copy and then switch with the ones in the bank on a regular basis. That safety deposit box costs me the equivalent of 5 months of Adobe's 1TB costs. Right now all of my most important personal stuff is on my Google Drive which mirrors what is on my desktop, so offsite storage of that drive's contents is not so critical and could be dropped. Why not do the same with a good portion of my photography? It is not a total offsite backup solution but would simplify it.
Ken, I will let you what happens and the issues I face in this approach.
Sorry. My previous response should have been addressed to Jim; but it can apply to Ken and anyone else interested in my approach.
when you open the Classic catalog and enable syncing, all the contents of the "separate" cloud catalog that you've created will automatically download, in original form, into that Classic catalog.
You were right, Jim, I am running into some interesting issues. The 128GB on the Surface is getting squeezed; but I think that at the moment it is still workable. My real issue is the passage of yours which I quoted. Why is it doing that? My migration catalog and the downloaded copies of the Cloud files are in a separate directory divorced from the one used by LR Classic. It was my intention to keep them that way. However, as I write this I have just now seen a "bug" in my thinking which could lead to a completely different approach on my part. Something I will have to mull over. My question still remains: why this backwards download sync from LR CC to LR Classic?
Because there's no selective sync option when syncing with the cloud, i.e. any client app that syncs with the cloud will see and receive the entire contents of that cloud. That also includes Classic when syncing FROM the cloud, but Classic does have the selective sync option when syncing TO the cloud. Furthermore, the intention was for only one Classic catalog to be synced with the cloud.....but there's nothing to prevent the user from switching sync from one Classic catalog to another. However, the consequence of that is that when you switch to another catalog then all the existing cloud contents will automatically download into it. This latter point can be useful, as it enables the "Catalog recovery feature" for Classic to work, i.e. creating a new Classic catalog and enabling sync will populate that catalog with all the existing cloud contents....it's a feature I used for real last year when I ran into a major issue.
Thanks, Jim, for your detailed response. I have been exploring what this whole migration procedure has been doing to my system; and several times, when I understood what was going on, I said to myself “this is unbelievable”. Certainly some of what I have been seeing has defied the logic of what I learned as an IT professional for over 50 years.

Let us begin with my 128GB drive in the Surface. I uploaded over 33,000 photos to the Cloud. I had about half the C drive empty before I lost about 37.5+GB to the smart previews being downloaded. I could have stopped storing those on the C drive; but then I would have to have been always linked to the Cloud to do any processing, never offline. Back in 2018 there were some postings or online conversations concerning the storing of these previews in another location or drive, not the C drive in a fixed location. Both you and Ms Brampton were involved in them. It was implied in one of your responses that it was not possible to do so for some unspecified reason. It was also suggested that a request be raised with Adobe to provide that ability. The situation has remained the same since then, and any request to Adobe has not been taken up so far as I can see. I will come back to this.

Getting to your response to my last question, why is there no selective sync from the Cloud? Classic has one; why not CC? As part of my migrating to the Cloud I created an initial catalog, extracting those portions which I wanted on the Cloud from my Classic catalog. This was in a “Cloud Photography” directory separate from my “Photography” directory (used previously for ALL my photographs), but on the same drive. When I completed the migration, this Cloud Photography directory contained all my migrated photos sequenced by date; as well, the originals were still in the Photography directory. So far so good, although the migration took much longer than I thought it would because my upload speed on my internet connection was much slower than I thought it was.

Then I opened LR Classic. I freaked out! Everything was downloading! Why was it doing that? I could see no reason for it. Now, you did warn me that this would happen; but it really is something you have to see to fully understand. Not only was it downloading photos I had just migrated to the Cloud, included in the download were photos I had previously synced before the migration and had deleted from the Cloud. Where were these coming from? It did not make sense. Why would I need a third copy of my photos on my hard drive (counting the originals which I would eventually delete or store offline)? And where were they going? I had not specified where to put them in my Classic preferences, so they were going into my OneDrive/Pictures/Lightroom directory, a system default, I guess, which I didn’t know about. I started deleting them, until I realized I had best stop the sync which I did. A complete sync would have been impossible as it would have “overfilled” my SSD drive C. Then I posted my question to you and waited for your response. I could be wrong, but I suspect there is a dearth of good documentation on this whole process and the reasons for it.

In light of your response and my experience I have decided to change my workflow. A firewall will exist between LR Classic and LR CC. Rather than sync photos back and forth, I will export and import. That will be more work on my part, but will allow me to control what goes between the two and the formats I use. I will also have control over the contents of both catalogs with, hopefully, no surprises.

Now to my thoughts on this whole process and its environment. In my years in IT I have learned that systems, as they age and are improved and modified (some modifications are not improvements), become more unwieldy. Also, the system designers may go down one path successfully; but later when further changes to the system have to be made, it may be discovered that a different path should have been taken initially. At that point the difficulty and, hence, cost of implementing new changes/enhancements can be excessive. When I started in IT in 1963 systems were much simpler, and a large machine was 64K (64,000 storage positions). Systems have become much larger and considerably more complex since then, but the principles of system design have not changed that much. There is just a lot more to play with. And more bad code to write, of which I suspect there is a lot.

I think Adobe is hitting a wall somewhere which affects how they can implement the changes they are making and further enhancements which would seem to follow (such as additional editing capabilities in LR CC). I like having my photos on the Cloud and working on them on a variety of different devices; but Adobe can’t seem to handle some, to me, simple design issues. When I implement LR CC on a laptop or tablet (which often have limited SSD storage), why can’t I specify a location for the smart previews instead of being force to use a fixed location on the C drive? Why can’t I specify which collections/albums are to be synced back and forth between LR Classic and LR CC? Your recovery situation could be handled by logging into the Cloud and making a selection to download/sync all albums the next time a sync occurs. I see no reason to have to sync the Cloud to a second location on one’s computer. I have liked using Lightroom since its inception; but my experiences over the few weeks have made me think that I should be aware other options.

This is a bit long and wordy (and a bit of a rant). My apologies, but I feel I had to tell the whole story.
Interesting thread!

This and many many others underline to me why Adobe do not recommend Cloudy and Classic syncing on the same system, even though they support it.

It obviously can and does work for people who really understand it, but it is full of poo- traps.

My own foray into using both led me to your firewall approach some 20 months ago. When I have read and understood enough threads like this I may try again.:p
Adobe doesn’t really support it. It is a relic from the past. Lightroom Mobile for iOS and Android is some four to five years old, much older than Lightroom desktop. At the time of introduction it made sense to sync Lightroom Mobile to Lightroom Classic, because there wasn’t anything else. When Lightroom desktop and storing originals in the cloud was introduced, Lightroom Classic was left behind. The sync features it already had were not removed, but no new sync features we added.
The sync features it already had were not removed, but no new sync features we added.
I believe the "All Sync'd Photographs special collection was added to Lightroom Classic since the Lightroom (cloudy) app was released for computers . I'm not sure of the version but in Lightroom Preferences the Lightroom Sync tab has undergone considerable improvement s since it was first introduced. At first it was not possible to designate a sync folder for images that were sync'd down from the cloud now you can specify a specific folder not just a UUID folder name generated by Lightroom cloud sync.
True, but those are small details that did not really change anything in the syncing itself, just how Lightroom Classic deals with what's coming in. The point is that syncing in Lightroom Classic is a relic from the past.
True, but those are small details that did not really change anything in the syncing itself, just how Lightroom Classic deals with what's coming in. The point is that syncing in Lightroom Classic is a relic from the past.

I think “relic” is a bit harsh. It implies that Adobe has abandoned any future development of the Classic platform. Until thes features in Lightroom Classic are complemented by features in Lightroom, there will always be a place in the Adobe lineup for the. Classic model.

What you consider “small details”. I consider significant. The ability to sync into my “date named folder scheme” was paramount for me to consider Lightroom as a useful asset to my workflow.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
I think “relic” is a bit harsh.
Cletus, Johan didn't say that Classic was a relic, he said that syncing in Classic is a relic. Given that Adobe continue to maintain their stance of not enhancing syncing in any meaningful way, I'd tend to agree with Johan. Yes, they've made improvements to the syncing UI, but until they allow more items to actually sync (and the list is getting longer), it's going to get ever more frustrating.
Exactly. I am not at all saying that Lightroom Classic is a relic. On rhe contrary. I had my doubts about its future when Lightroom CC was released, but right now I am convinced that Adobe has understood that too many photographers are not looking for a cloud solution. Lightroom Classic is not going away any time soon! It is developed further, and in some cases even ahead of Lightroom desktop. Take range mask, for example. That is still not available in the cloud apps, only in Lightroom Classic. But syncing is another matter. Adobe clearly does not believe that Lightroom Classic should be part of the Lightroom cloud ecosystem. What’s already available from the past won’t be removed, but nothing is added.
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