Facilitate shifting files to and from SSD to edit them

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  • Updated 9 months ago
I would like to find an easy way to move my images to and from my working SSD. Obviously the SSD is much faster to work off than my hard drive, but the hard drive has a much larger capacity. I am aware that I can drag and drop folders on the left side to move them around, but this is a horrible way to work especially with a large number of photos coming from different folders. In addition, once the images are not used often anymore I would like that they can be  returned to their original folder on the HDD thus freeing up space for new photos on the SSD. So my questions are i) is there a way to move selected photos (within a collection for example) to the SSD ii) is there a way to return photos on the SSD back to their respective folders on the HDD? A good solution would maintain the integrity of the LR file managing system IMO.
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Nick James

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Posted 9 months ago

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Tom Mickow

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Where is your Lr catalog stored?  If you make sure your catalog & previews are on the SSD, you should be fine keeping all your originals on your spinning hdd.  Moving images back & forth between the drives isn't going to do anything but give you headaches.
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Dan Hartford Photo

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LR Classic access to the actual RAW files is quite limited.  Most of the disk operations are to and from the Catalog and associated folders such as previews.  LR only needs to access the RAW files when it needs to build a bigger preview or read/write XMP data.

I suspect the time required to do all the shuffling (even if completely automated) would be greater than the just leaving the raw files on the spinning disk.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Tom is correct. Placing the images on the SSD is not going to speed up Lightroom significantly. The reason is that the originals are only loaded once. After that, Lightroom will use the Camera Raw cache to load them. The biggest bottleneck is reading and writing the catalog, followed by the previews. If these are both on the SSD, you will not see much difference between storing the images on the SSD temporarily, or storing them on the spinning disk right from the start.
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Jao van de Lagemaat

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What you are describing is what the camera raw cache does. It stores fast load data for raw files that have been recently accessed and will automatically purge data for raw files that have not been accessed in a while. The size of this cache is set in Preferences->Performance
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GEGJr

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When you all use the word "raw" are you also including original jpeg as well? In spite of big push for everyone to shoot raw, (thereby increasing the need to buy or rent more and more space because of bigger and bigger files), some of us don't always shoot raw, for various reasons, so since in the case of jpeg files where LR does not write to xmp, how does LR store edits (in what sidecar file) without altering the original?
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Just Shot Me

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The edits done on JPG, TIFF, PSD, DNG and PNG files are store in the file itself in a special place that does not alter the original image file data. That is IF you have the option turned on to Auto Write changes to XMP. It also store all edits for ALL images in the catalog file.
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Dan Hartford Photo

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Yes,  When we say "your RAW files" we mean any original file of any compatible file format - including JPG's
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GEGJr

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Thanks for verification. Not to beat a dead horse but in an effort to really understand LR, when a non-camera proprietary file, e.g. jpg, tif, dng is exported to a new jpg, tif, dng so as to preserve the edits or to share, any edits are embedded into the exported file including those specified in the export dialogue window such as copyright, watermark, keywords, etc. Depending on what is or isn't baked into the export file will determine whether LR keeps the original file date or digitized date, etc?
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Jao van de Lagemaat

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Lightroom Classic stores all the edits in the catalog file which is usually on your fast ssd (or should be). xmp sidecars are only used as backup and then only if you have the writing of sidecars enabled. The sidecars are not used for anything in Lightroom all of the data is in the catalog. For jpeg files xmp metadata is written inside the file's metadata so you won't see a separate xmp file next to the jpeg. Again, this only happens if you explicitly enable writing of sidecars.
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Jao van de Lagemaat

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Pretty sure Johan is right and that it only looks at the modification date and doesn't't actually compare the data in the file. Just tested it with an xmp file and just opening and saving it without changes makes the metadata changed outside thing pop up.
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Just Shot Me

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So they are being used to compare the mod date and time. And they would be used by ACR if you chose to open one of them in that program.

For me they are a safety net. I've always written them from LR 1 (it that was available in LR 1) onward.
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Just Shot Me

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They will also be used if for some reason you have to import those images into another catalog. Say the original catalog became corrupted.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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The point is that there is no read/write action by Lightroom on these XMP files (unless you set in the preferences that Lightroom should automatically write changes to XMP), and so the mere presence of XMP files on the spinning disk will not have a significant effect on the speed.
(Edited)
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Just Shot Me

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Correct. 
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Nick James

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Some excellent information here to help me make storage choices into the future thank you to everyone that has contributed so far! To steer the conversation a little more in the direction of practicality. There seems to be some conflict between storing the catalog on the SSD or the HDD. If kept on the HDD relying on the cached items for recently used files...how does one ensure the photos I want to be quick to edit are there? In another explanation, I would like that for example all my 4 star rated images (Which are in a smart folder) to be ready to go whenever I want. Ideas?
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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All your photos are ready as long as you keep that external drive connected. If you also want to be able to edit them without the external drive, then generate smart previews for them.
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Just Shot Me

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Not sure I understand your question and or I'm not sure you understand how LR works with the Catalog File.
The LR catalog file is just a Database file. There are No images in the catalog file. When you import images what happens it a Record is made of that image in the Database, Where it is located on your drives and other things about the images, Metadata, and LR makes a Preview of it.
After that LR rarely if ever touches the actual image file (With RAW files. With the other file formats mentioned above it may write something to the file but only if you have the option turned on to Auto Write changes to XMP ).

So most people do as I do. I have my catalog file and the previews folder (which are always stored together), and of course the LR program files, on my SSD. All my images (well almost all images) are stored on spinning drives.

So having the images on an older style rotating HDD does not Slow LR down.

The only time, IMHO, you would want both all your images and the catalog file on the same drive, whether spinning or SSD, is IF you are going to move that drive, an external drive, from one computer to another so you can have and work on your complete catalog on different computers
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Nick James

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This was the explanation I was looking for! Nice one and thanks!! You are right I haven't spent too much time looking into how and when the original files are accessed, thanks for a good intro.