Lightroom Classic: Why am I forced to update Catalogs between major versions?

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I am being forced to spend valuable time updating every catalog before I can access my images in the new version of LR Classic.  This is outrageous that Adobe could not find a solution other than forced catalog upgrades to use a new version of their software. Adobe owes me about a year of free software for the time I am spending upgrading my catalogs to have access to my images in LR Classic. The most un-user friendly update I've ever seen from a software company.  What were they thinking???
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David Weigle

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  • pissed off

Posted 3 months ago

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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What were they thinking? They were thinking that you'd want the significant performance improvements that resulted from their database format changes, which couldn't be done without upgrading the catalog format. This has been true for every major (x.0) Lightroom upgrade for the last 10 years.
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Steve Crane

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A catalog file is a database. Sometimes, in order to implement new features in an application, the schema (structure) of the database it uses must change. This requires an update process to apply the new schema while retaining all the existing data. It happens with any software so Adobe didn't do anything wrong or out of the ordinary. The alternative is to leave features static, but then people would complain about that.

It occurs to me that the advice has always been to use a single catalog rather than many. Having done that might have minimised the impact; the update on a single large catalog might take longer but would probably take less time than the update of many smaller catalogs.
(Edited)
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J Alley

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I too had to update -- with hundreds of thousands of images.....it's tough, but just do it overnight and wake up to a catalog!
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David Weigle

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I have many catalogs so I can't set it up to update over night. I have to do each one separately and now as I update them Lightroom can't seem to locate the original photos. This completely sucks. If I have to do this every time they update Lightroom I think I'll need to find another photo editor to replace it and stop paying for it. If the engineers can't figure out another way to make this work so you don't have to do this because they release an update they aren't very bright. Adobe clearly can seem to put themselves in their users shoes or they would understand how unacceptably frustrating and time consuming it is. 
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Roelof Moorlag

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Updating the catalog is not new, this was necesary for every new version.
And Adobes advise always was to use one catalog instead of many so your problem would be much smaller.
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David Weigle

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When you have a single large catalog it slows down Lightroom for some reason.  It runs better with smaller catalogs. 
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Roelof Moorlag

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This argument does not seem to be valid any more the last years.
And when you do notice lag than some use project catalogs for the shoot. Afterwards merge them into the master so you work on small catalog but maintain one big one.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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That was true some years ago. These days, many photographers are running huge catalogs. The largest I know of is over 7 million photos.
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Frank Kohn

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So I've been using LR for years but have never heard about  updating catalogs (I use only one with almost 30,000 images). How do I go about doing this?
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Frank, when you come to open a catalog in a new version for the first time, it will have asked you to upgrade and you will have just agreed. The dialog looks like this: 
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Frank Kohn

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Thanks. So I was having issues with LR Classic so I switched back to LR CC. I imported some photos and when I then tried LR Classic again the folder wasn't in the catalog. I added it in but wasn't encouraged that the program was stable.  Also it was still synching photos that I synched weeks ago although it didn't make separate album on my ipad--just added it to the the other  photos 
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Sorry Frank, not quite following you there! It's probably lack of sleep on my part. ;) Feel free to create a thread and we'll help you figure out what's going with your version.
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Deborah Albert

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I was not asked to upgrade catalog; having significant performance issues. What can I do?
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Post a separate thread describing the issues you're having Deborah, and include the information from Help menu > System Info too.  It gets messy when things end up in unrelated threads, and I want to make sure your issues get the attention they deserve.
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David Weigle

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Yesterday was the first time I have every been asked/forced to update a catalog and I use it LR everyday. This was significant set back to me yesterday for deadlines because I need to access and work on image across several catalogs.  Like I said if this something I have to every time there is an update to Lightroom - it is unacceptable, completely unacceptable. I don't have time to spend hours updating catalogs. I can't image anyone else does either.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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It’s just when there’s a major upgrade, when the version number changes (like LR6 to LR7). Last one was 2 1/2 years ago. Shortest time between major upgrades was 15 months, from memory, and that’s years ago.
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David Weigle

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Then it is even more confusing that it is asking/forcing me to do this now.  I have never ever been asked to upgrade a catalog before. I was trying to access images from the late winter early spring (end of March/early April). There has to be a better way. Adobe needs to spend more time making this software user friendly and less time on updates. As far as I'm concerned this is major a bug in the usability. 
(Edited)
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Robert Frost

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Well, obviously you are a relative newcomer to LR. I've been using it since LR 1 and upgraded my catalog several times over the years. No problem really, unless you ignore the advice of Adobe and other LR experts and insist on having loads of separate catalogs. That is a recipe for trouble! I've never found my catalog to slow down as it gets bigger, but then I only have about 154K images in it. Others have many, many more.

Don't confuse updates with upgrades; you seem to be using the terms interchangeably. Updates are what we get in between major upgrades. We've had six upgrades since LR 1 which require catalog upgrades, but many more updates in  between that don't require catalog upgrades.

If you really don't like upgrades, stick with the previous version of LR.

Bob Frost

(Edited)
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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I can understand you’re frustrated. Perhaps you didn’t take much notice of the upgrade dialog previously, because the LR4>LR5 and LR5>LR6 upgrades were faster than this one. This time round, they’re compressing a lot of metadata in the catalog to improve performance, but as a result, the upgrade can take longer than the last few upgrades did, depending on the amount of metadata in the catalog. From memory, the last ‘long’ upgrade process was upgrading to LR4 in 2012, where it went back and read the original files to pull extra data into the catalog. These longer upgrade processes are pretty rare, but the benefits are worth the one-time hit. There is no way of avoiding an upgrade process while still reaping the performance benefits.
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David Weigle

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Thanks for the advice and the details. I've been using LR for about 2 years.  Prior to that I had been using PhotoShop since it's very first release. Now I use them both for different reasons. I love what I can do with LR as far as post editing.  But when this happened yesterday and I was in a time crunch it really caused me problems.  

LR definitely slows down when you are using a huge catalog. That happened to me fairly quickly when I started using it. I don't have time or patients for that. So in my mind, not knowing I was going to have to do these upgrades, creating smaller catalogs was the answer. And strategy worked very well. 

It's a nightmare to think that I will have to do upgrades to each catalog individually once every year or so with major updates to the software.  And if I don't keep up with the  software updates eventually my version won't be supported by my computer OS updates. 
(Edited)
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Are you on Windows, by any chance David? There is a bug that sounds very similar that's currently under investigation. When they've fixed that one, you might want to try merging some of those catalogs (using Import from Another Catalog) into a bigger one and see if you still get the same slowdowns. If it's the same one I'm thinking of, it may be the restart between switching catalogs that's clearing the problem for you.

But for future reference, just in case this comes up again, major releases (potentially every October-ish in future) usually need a catalog upgrade, but you can keep your old Lightroom version installed so you can just open un-upgraded catalogs into the older version when you're in a time crunch, and upgrade them to the new version at your convenience. Hopefully that'll help.
(Edited)
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David Weigle

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I'm a Mac user. Thanks for the advice.  I think LR would come to grinding halt if I merged all of the catalogs. Maybe I could merge a few together without causing a performance issue and scale back the number of catalogs by 30-50%. I don't add whole shoots to my catalogs, just the images I am planning to work with. But I guess it adds up quickly.

I am not sure how to keep more than one version of the same software installed. When Adobe alters me there is an upgrade do they offer for me to save the new version as a separate application instead of updating the current version?
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Robert Frost

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when you say you are a Mac user, is it a laptop or desktop? IME most laptops will struggle because they don't have the internal disk capacity to cope with lots of image files, catalog, previews, cache files, etc. My windows desktop has three internal ssds, and two big internal hdds. No problems except for the slowdown with time, that most people seem to experience.

Bob Frost

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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> I am not sure how to keep more than one version of the same software installed. When Adobe alters me there is an upgrade do they offer for me to save the new version as a separate application instead of updating the current version?

There's a difference between dot releases and major release. Dot releases install over the top of the previous version, but they don't require catalog upgrades. Major releases (like this one) do require a catalog upgrade, but when you go to install it, there's an "advanced options" line in the dialog and if you open that, you can choose whether to delete the previous major version or keep it installed.
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David Weigle

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Robert - I am on a fairly new top end MacBook Pro laptop but all my files are stored on fast 6T and 8T ssd usb c devices with lots of storage. I do a lot of fine tuning on each image and I imagine LR has to store a lot of data per image for these sometimes extensive edits. So that may cause the long time for the catalogs to upgrade. That's why using one large catalog seems to slow LR in a big way and I had to start using smaller catalogs. 
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David Weigle

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Victoria - thanks for the info and advice. I'll keep this in mind for the next major release.  But for now I am forced to do these catalog upgrades. Maybe a few years from now with all of the tech and engineering advances this will change and better solutions will be available.  We'll all be sitting back wondering how we ever put up with this and it will remind us the way we felt 15 yrs ago when photoshop crawled with just a few MB many layered file. I honestly don't know how I had the patients. I use to take a nap while I waited for it to finish a command. LOL.
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Lots of edits per photo probably explains why it's taking so long for you, as one of the biggest changes to the catalog format is they're now compressing the Develop History to make it faster. On the upside, you should hopefully see some performance benefits as a result of these changes too.
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SatishT, Employee

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Hi David,

Apart from what Victoria and others have mentioned, I would like to add a few more details about the catalog upgrade.

An upgrade may be required to change the database structure according to new features or may be some other optimisation.

With the 7.0 release, we have done some changes to the internal representation of the data(develop history and image metadata) which helps in reducing the size of the catalog(we have observed approx 50% size reduction in our internal tests and similar results have been shared by other customers) and helping the performance as well as far as read/write to the catalog file is concerned.

Catalog upgrade is disk intensive operation, so it may take some time to complete. In our internal tests upgrade for a 6 GB catalog took about 25 minutes on SSD and 40 minutes on HDD.

One of the reasons for the upgrade taking longer that expected could be lack of space on the corresponding disk drive/partition. Catalog upgrade may need free disk space about 2x size of catalog.

Can you check if that is the case? If clearing disk space does not help, let us know, we can debug the issue offline.

-Satish

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Deborah Albert

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I was not asked to upgrade catalog. Do I need to do that and if so, how?
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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So what do you think happened the first time you open Lightroom Classic after upgrading Deborah? What do you remember?
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Deborah Albert

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It upgraded; did not ask for catalog upgrade. Has been working but often slow or unresponsive.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Go to Help menu > System Info and check it says you're running Lightroom Classic version: 7.0.1.

You can also check further down, for the Library path, and see if the catalog name has -2 on the end.
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Deborah Albert

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Yes, to both
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Then I wouldn't worry. The -2 means you did agree to the upgrade, probably without realizing that's what you were doing. As to your slow and unresponsive problems though, start a thread describing your issues, if you haven't already.
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Deborah Albert

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I believe my catalog had the -2 before the update to Classic; and will do.
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David Weigle

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Satish - thanks for the info.  I don't have any storage issues. The external drives I use all have at least 2T storage available on them. It's good to know that the additional compression that this latest upgrade I went thru should help.  There have been suggestions that I merge my catalogs into a single catalog. But I don't see merging my catalogs into a single large catalog helping me in my day to day work. I think it will still  significantly slow down the processing of my edits. Honestly, I can't afford that. 

Thanks much,
David