Lightroom Desktop: When external hard drive is off it shows only smart previews

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  • Updated 7 months ago
  • (Edited)
Hi, I'm a former desktop Lightroom 2015 user (I guess an 'enthusiast' hobby photographer). I recently migrated to Lightroom CC. For viewing and editing, I use the desktop version 'Adobe Lightroom Photoshop', Version 3.0, 20191017-0835-b386176 Build.

All photos are stored in the Lightroom cloud.

I decided to also keep an original of all photos on an external drive, which is a new 4TB 'My Passport' from WD. (Option 'Store a copy of all originals at the specified location'.)

I have to turn the external drive off because it makes quite a bit of noise and I'm reassured enough to turn it on only weekly or monthly to ensure local backup.

However, when I then look at my photos, they seem all compromised. I guess they are all showing as 'smart previews'. When I then plug in the external hard drive, I again see the photos in their full (raw) version.

NB: The option 'Store a copy of all smart previews locally...' is unchecked.

I would like to again be able to see the photos in their full raw splendor when the hard drive isn't plugged in.

Thanks in advance for your help,

 (NB, the above issue also means, more generally, that it just isn't quite clear to me how the local backup function works. Any more detailed description of that would be welcomed.)
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Posted 7 months ago

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michel Delfeld

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First of all, 
RAW is not a graphic file. Raw contains all needed technical data of a picture, but is not readable as a graphic file. The RAW format contain a smart preview. This the one you see when you want to look at a RAW file.

You say: "All photos are stored in the Lightroom cloud" Which is the file format you store: JPEG - TIFF?
You say: "Original" Are these pictures in RAW format?
Do you take picture in one shot in RAW + JPEG format ?
In LR, do you proceed to a treatment of the RAW?

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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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A raw file does not contain a smart preview. It contains a normal preview, which is a different thing. Smart previews aren’t really previews at all, they are small dng proxies of the original. That means you cannot view a smart preview either. What you are looking at are normal previews, and these are either generated from the original (if available), or from a smart preview. Because smart previews are smaller, you may see a quality difference on large screens like 4K and 5K screens.