Need Advice - External HD for Lightroom

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by NkedFatWhiteGuy, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    I need some advice... I have a fairly large Lightroom catalog that I would like to share between 2 laptops (MacBook Air and a Windows 8 machine). What I want to do is keep all of my images on an external HD so that I can move from machine to machine. I would also like to keep the catalogs on the external, but totally understand if I will end up needing separate catalogs that sit on the internal for each machine.

    My real question is, what is the best choice for the external hard drive? I am looking at a new Seagate hybrid (SSD cache with 5400 RPM spinning drive) and a SATA 3, USB 3 external enclosure sitting on my desk waiting for me to open, but I am wondering if I would get better performance out of a 7200 RPM "traditional" disk. The capacity I am targeting is 1TB in a 2.5" format. My initial thought was that Lightroom would pull the current image into the SSD cache while I was working on it, which would be much faster than spinning disk. Now, however, I am wondering if the 7200 RPM disk would be better since the images will be read sequentially. I don't think there is much random I/O in photo editing, but I may be wrong.

    Does anyone have experience with the Hybrid drives as a non OS drive? How about for image storage? I am struggling to make this decision and any input would be helpful!

    I am very comfortable with technical terminology and explanations, so feel free to throw whatever at me, I can take it ;-)
     
  2. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    259
    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    I'd say get something you can connect as a NAS drive. That way, you can map the drive to a drive letter on both machines. You can also put the catalog file there although Adobe does not recommend it.

    My set up is that I have one computer running lightroom. The catalog file is on that computer but the images are on the NAS so I can at least look at them with other computers/devices. If I want to edit some images and don't want to go upstairs to do it, I will use a remote desktop connection to run Lightroom remotely. I usually connect using an Ethernet cable when I do this for better speed. My set up is all Windows PCs so I'm not sure how well it will play with a MAC

    Not sure how well a remote connection from Mac to PC or vice-versa would work but it looks like it can be done. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=18140
     
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  3. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks HabsFan! Remote desktop connections to and from Mac and PC work well. I have thought about just doing a NAS, but have been debating on the performance. Since my machines are all laptops, wireless would be the connection method to the the network and to the NAS. I do have good wireless and get pretty constant 300Mbps+ from both laptops. The catalogs would probably just be independent and sit on the SSD drives in each of the systems.

    I guess if the images are stored on a NAS, the only thing I would lose would be the edits to the RAW files that are done on each machine. That would require me to "publish" to JPEG when I think I am done and just do any additional edits to RAW on the machine with that particular catalog.

    The other benefit to the NAS would be easy backup; I currently do about 1TB to the "cloud" right now and if I were to just map the image folder to a folder on the Windows machine, that model could continue. If I go with just an external, I will have to mount the image folder to a Windows folder each time so that backup could continue. Hmm....

    What NAS do you use? Is it an off the shelf unit, or custom built?

    More things to consider I guess! I did just have a large tree go down on my roof last night so paying for "emergency work" today and "really expensive" options for final removal of the tree (it will need an aerial lift to remove it since the main weight bearing trunk is too compromised to climb. So a NAS may not be an option... in fact I might be having to sell some of my newly acquired camera gear to fund the removal. Being a homeowner is awesome...sigh...
     
  4. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    259
    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    My NAS is very old. It's an off the shelf HP MediaVault. One of the smaller ones. It's not terribly fast and want to upgrade so something faster but have not got around to it. I think if you store your catalog file locally on one of the computers it should work pretty fast. That catalog from my understanding stores the previews that you see in Grid view for better performance. Once you switch over to edit a RAW file, it then hits your NAS but that should be stored in memory while you are editing it.

    I'm using old laptops (one is from 2006, the other form 2007), and the NAS is from around that time too. The speed is not great, but it's OK. If you already have your catalog on one computer, try to Remote to it and see how fast it is over wireless. In this case, you can just use this temporarily and don't have to buy anything.
     
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  5. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for the input! I will try that for sure! I have some networked attached storage (not a NAS device, but a USB drive hung off of my wireless router) that I could also use to test that out...

    That actually might give me even more options now that I think about it. In this kind of situation, I won't get any performance gains by RAID so if I got a decent external HD that I only kept images on and hung that off of my router, I could attach to it from wherever, and get portability if I need it. Hmmm....
     
  6. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
    I do recommend Seagate over WD if you're going between Mac & Win 8. Seagate includes a free NTFS driver for Mac and they keep it updated.
     
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  7. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks! The hybrid drive that I have to use is a Seagate so the NTFS driver will help save me the cost of buying the driver - I have always used Tuxera NTFS driver in the past, but it went from a no cost to a paid license (it isn't real expensive and it is a great, high quality tool to have but a dollar saved is a dollar i can use elsewhere [emoji6]).

    Have you had any experience with the hybrid drives? If I don't use the hybrid, I will return it and order a HGST Travelstar 7200 RPM drive (with Tuxera) if I don't go the NAS route...

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
     
  8. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
    I had a fusion drive in a Mac mini, but I haven't used one as an external drive.
     
  9. NightBird

    NightBird TalkEmount Regular

    50
    Jun 13, 2014
    I had the same dilemma. I use my Synology NAS to store the physical image files, which is fast enough. I have around 65,000 images, which I should make time to reduce.

    The biggest issue I had was that you have to have separate Lightroom catalogs, and the catalog cannot be stored on the NAS. Windows and Mac Lightroom catalogs handle paths differently, and you can't share them between computers. The problem this causes, is that if you update or import photos on your mac to your mac catalog, they are not duplicated on your PC, and vise verse. As your catalogs will be out of sync, it really defeat the purpose unless you duplicate your importing. I just found this too difficult to manage. Particularly on a Mac and a PC. If you only had PC's or only had Mac's, there are other ways to sync your catalog. I have since moved to PC only.

    If using external drives, USB 3 is your best bet, as it should work on anything. I use the Seagate SSHD hard drives, as they are a fraction of the cost of SSD's and substantially faster than standard hard drives when used as my system drive. As you have knowledge of the way SSHD read compared to standard drives, I'll leave answer as to which one will be faster in this usage scenario to someone else, however I have no issues with the performance of the hybrid drives.

    Another thing worth noting..

    Synology NAS have a great built in backup that is compatible with Amazon S3 and Glacier, you can very easily and cheaply backup all those photos for between 1 cent and 3 cents a GB (Depending on S3 standard, reduced redundancy or Glacier). In my case, 300GB of photos automagically and saftely backed up on Glacier for $3 per month. Super!
     
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  10. radiohead

    radiohead New to TalkEmount

    2
    Jun 7, 2014
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I runt Lightroom on a very similar setup with one Windows 7 box and one MacBook Pro laptop. I'm currently storing all photos on my NAS (older synology unit) and keep the catalogue on Dropbox. As the catalogue is synchronised and stored locally on both computers, catalogue access is very fast. One have to be careful though not to access the same catalogue from both computers at the same time and also to wait until synchronisation is complete before opening it on the other computer.

    I've corrupted the catalogue a few times but Dropbox has a really easy option to restore older versions which have fixed it for me.

    Overall, performance is decent while editing but creating 100% previews or running Exiftool (via LensTagger plugin) is quite time-consuming.
     
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  11. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    I broke down and opened the SSHD and threw it into the external case and started using it last night. I think where I ended up is that I am going to use the Mac for the primary imports, image clean up (deletes), and edits where appropriate. I have only used the drive on the Mac so far but I hope to connect it to the Windows machine tomorrow.

    The silliest part? I *assumed* that my MacBook Air would have USB 3... guess what... just USB 2! So now I am going to be on a quest for an external case with Thunderbolt and USB 3 or a Thunderbolt to USB 3 cable or hub or something. I really can't believe I didn't realize that before! D'oh!!!

    I don't think the SSHD will benefit me in this use case, but I may end up swapping out the 5400 RPM drive in my Windows laptop to see if I can offload some applications off of the small SSD (mSATA not a traditional format drive... more of a strange hack that I ended up doing), so it will not be a waste.

    I still don't know how I will sort all of this out yet. I think I have created an issue that I probably didn't need to create, but I do have a tendency to do just that ;)

    The NAS idea is probably going to be the route I go in the long term. Maybe I will do a dyi NAS and use the SSHD as the drive model moving forward. Maybe???

    NightBird, I am really interested in seeing how OSX treats the paths differently in this case. I think I might be able to work around it if I have the catalog on the removable drive, but not sure just yet. Again, I may be creating more work and trouble than I should be....

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
     
  12. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    This sounds like something that I need to try!!! thanks for the idea of keeping the catalog in a cloud based, synchronized tool like Dropbox.

    Everyone's input is helping me think through my options more!
    [emoji2]

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
     
  13. NightBird

    NightBird TalkEmount Regular

    50
    Jun 13, 2014
    When I look at the catalog general setting under windows, I see the location path as C:\users\darren\pictures\lightroom etc... On the Mac, it's /users/darren/pictures/lightroom/ etc.. due to Windows and OSX handling their paths differently. OSX not needing drive letters and paths using /'s instead of \'s.

    I have no issue syncing files between computers, and I can sync to any folder I like, however I'd be interested to know if this causes any issue with you when using the same catalog file on both computers (At different times) due to the path structure being different in the catalog settings. I realize my catalog location would be \\NAS\Photos\Lightroom or whatever instead of on a local drive.
     
  14. radiohead

    radiohead New to TalkEmount

    2
    Jun 7, 2014
    Stockholm, Sweden
    As the folders/paths pointing to the photos will be different on the Mac from the Windows box, I did the following;

    First arrange the photos on the NAS so they all have a common root folder (i.e. LightroomPhotos or similar). When moving between the Mac and Win computers, first lightroom will be unable to locate the photos as it can not recognise the path from the other computer. Then I use "Find missing folder" (right click on the "LightroomPhotos" folder in LR) and point out the location of the LightroomPhotos folder on that particular computer. Assuming the other folders are located beneath the LightroomPhotos folder, they will all be recognized by LR.

    You don't really NEED a common root folder but it makes things simpler as you only need to locate one missing folder instead of doing that for each missing root folder.
     
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  15. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    So far I have had luck (simple tests only so far) with keeping everything on the removable drive.

    Basically what I decided to do was to keep the catalog(s) in a "Catalog" parent folder which is on the root of the disk. The images are all kept in an "Images" folder which is also on the root. The images folder is organized in the standard Lightroom structure by date.

    Even with local catalogs, I have been able to swap back and forth between computers, sharing edits within the shared catalog on the removable.

    I do have a lot more to test, but with the cache on the local SSD and everything else on the removable SSHD, performance is acceptable...

    More to come!

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
     
  16. ryanlio

    ryanlio TalkEmount Regular

    26
    Mar 13, 2014
    My work flow is this.
    1. Import into lightroom onto local drive (raw files)
    2. Catalog is also maintained within the local drive.
    3. When editing lightroom will create a cache folder. This are on the local drive too.
    4. After editing my album set, I will export the jpgs to the album on my synology nas for public access. The raw files get transfered to a shared folder in synology via moving them within lightroom.
    5. After edit on the album set, I will also create a backup via lightroom. This time the folder will be on synology cloud to be synchronised to the nas.
    -- I previously used to sync the catalog files... but the corrupting issues forced me to just use single machine to access.
     
  17. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    My situation may have just become much, much easier... the fan is going out on my windows laptop which is causing the chipset to overheat and lose connection to the OS disk (assuming it is losing the disk controller). I need to find out if it is still covered under warranty.

    In the meantime, I think I am going to be pulling drives and getting the image catalog - and music collection - moved to the new external drive just in case; it is already backed up via Crash Plan to "the cloud" and to a large external drive that is exclusive for backups. Ugh.... :(