Lightroom Classic and CC: Allow Catalog to be stored on a networked drive.

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I'd love to make LR more multi-computer friendly. I have no doubt that there's probably database architecture issues and a host of other barriers... But I have to believe that the need for either multi-user or at at lease multi-computer use is widely desired. And yes, I know you can do the catalog import export thing but I find this less than ideal.
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BenD

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Posted 8 years ago

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Lynn Bayer

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I think there is really a need for a network catalog for multi-computer usage.
We have the usb harddrive solution but it more a workaround.
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Phil Pool

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I see where this will probably boil down to a 'multi-user' vs. 'Multi-machine' issue. Not being a programmer, this sounds difficult to easily satisfy all users. Large/small portrait studios would most likely only be working on one client's folder of images at a time. e.g. downloading and first edits. I doubt 2 or three employees would be doing the same job to the same client at a time.

From a business standpoint, most 'studios/photographers' work by themselves or with staff of three or smaller. Most of us smaller operators would be thrilled to be able to leave our catalog and images on a 'server' and then access from our laptops and maybe one or two desktops in our work area.

Having the mega stock photo business with large databases and then everyone else would seem that having two different versions of LR would be your answer.

Is this unreasonable? I don't know.
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Thomas Achermann

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I see three scenarios:
1. Catalog Sync: for single-user/multi-computer use. A automatized sync of a catalog between lets say a laptop and a studio computer. That would satisfy a lot of users
2. Networked Catalog: I'm not sure if this is doable (avoiding db corruption) but I would imagine that the performance of such a catalog would be 'less then desirable' even over Gb-network
3. Lightroom Server: a real client/server application for larger working environments. But this would then require a dedicated SQL server AND file-server (to store the RAW images and previews) and a new client application. But I would expect a hefty price tag on such a version

I'm sure there are people at Adobe that have already looked into this - but I'm also sure it is not easy to come up with a real good solution, especially because the possible scenarios are going in very different directions.
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Phil Pool

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Sounds easy, but the beauty of software that's user friendly is usually very difficult to implement, so I guess LR will just remain a one machine software.........
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Mark Bortz

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The one machine restriction is ridiculous. Just drop a lock file into the folder so that only 1 instance of lightroom can access the catalog and you're done. Don't need multi user I just want my catalog on the network so it's backed up and accessible from anywhere.
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kada jawi

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I have had a few corrupted catalogs due to having the thing on a network drive. It works... most of the time, in snail mode. But it can go wrong. Terribly wrong. Are you sure you want that?

What you _can_ do, and what I do, is to have the files on the network (my notebook HDD isn't big enough, + my desktop/file server is backed up), but the catalog on the laptop. I figured that I'd only be using my laptop for Lightroom, so that works for me. The catalog is backed up to the desktop once in a while, but feel free to use software to keep them in sync once a day or something like that (I'd do some versioning in that case, just in case).

This also helps the performance a lot. Since the thumbnails and the database are on the drive, it speeds up things when scrolling through the library. It's not as good as having the photos on the internal drive too, but at least it's something.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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A lock file wouldn't address the underlying issue of feared database corruption that might result when accessing a SQLite database from a network drive. See the discussion earlier in this thread for details -- there's a reasonable belief, not backed up by recent testing, that networked LR SQLite databases can get corrupted with at least some combinations of clients and servers.

If you want to live dangerously, you can trick LR into thinking a networked catalog is on a direct-attached disk by using symbolic links.
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Mark Bortz

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I've been trying to figure out how to do this with symbolic links.
Can you provide any more detail on how to set that up.
I'm assuming this solution is for a Mac as Windows doesn't have symbolic links.
(which is perfect for me)

I don't see how the database could become corrupted unless the network drive becomes disconnected while the database is being accessed.

Our whole workflow runs across a network without a hitch. I can't see how this could be an issue for a single user database.

FYI I have a computer engineering degree and have quite a bit of experience with databases and network applications.

Going through the SQlite readme & FAQs seems to indicate that the locking problems all relate to multiple processes (concurrently) accessing the database. This shouldn't be an issue if a lock file is used as a gate to prevent another process from gaining access to the database until the lock is deleted. I'll admit that I haven't read everything written but this is what I have found so far.

The issues of the OS not flushing buffers to disk or disks reporting that the data has been written when it actually hasn't are common to a local disk as well as on the server. Of course there could be corruption if a network goes down, the server crashes, etc just as the database is being written. That problem exists with any application
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Mark Bortz

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Unfortunately that's a windows only solution. It requires the "subst" DOS command. There is no OSX / linux equivalent. I've been unsuccessful in tricking Lightroom to access a network drive using symbolic links on OSX.
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john beardsworth

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Google symbolic links Lightroom - I know Sean McCormack wrote something on the topic.
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Lee Jay

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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Mark wrote, "Unfortunately that's a windows only solution. It requires the 'subst' DOS command."

The second half of the article shows how to use "mklink" to make a symbolic link to a network drive so that the entire catalog folder is stored on the server.
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Mark Bortz

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The suggestion in the second half of the article for linking directly to a folder on the server does not work on Mac OSX....
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Mark Bortz

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I've seen his posts on moving the preview folder and using sym links so that lightroom will find it. Nothing about moving the entire catalog to a network drive (at least that I could find).
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Mark Bortz

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Thanks- I'll take a look at your script.
I don't think the network performance is too big of an issue for our situation.
We have a wired Gigabit network, no wireless, so that helps.

We are a portrait studio, and use a separate catalog for each client/session.
This helps keep the catalogs small.

We do the ingestation of photos into lightroom on the server.

We typically export a lower resolution image for proofing. They are good up to an 8x10 print.

What we really like network access for the following tasks.
--Image selection/rating (picking of favorites), while another client is being imported into lightroom at the server.
--If a client orders a larger print it would be nice to be able to export it from the retouching workstation and not have to go back to the server.
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Rob Cole

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Whoops - kinda left your post out of context there - sorry 'bout that ;-}
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Rob Cole

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This might work for you: http://www.robcole.com/Rob/ProductsAn...

(copies shared catalog from net to local host, if free (and reserves it for exclusive access)... when done for now, copies it back and frees it so others can use...).

Good for infrequent hand-offs, and/or small catalogs.
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Walker Blackwell

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I put a post up on how to get network access to a Lightroom catalogue via read/write dmg with OS X using gigabit. It's a one-user-at-a-time thing but is very useful still. I've actually been doing this for 4 years now. Sorry for not spilling the beans until now.

http://theagnosticprint.org/how-to-ne...

All the best,
Walker
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ERIC BURLET

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Does it work on Windows or only for Mac?
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Arthur West

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Please could you let me know if the new version of Lightroom (4) will enable the sharing of a catalog. In other words I have two machines, and would like to know if the second machine can utilise the catalog on the first machine via icloud or a network.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Lightroom - Sharing Catalogs.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Not currently possible or supported. Some folks have workarounds that aren't officially supported/recommended.
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ERIC BURLET

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I'd love to have a multi user LR! I still install Media Pro (aka Iview and Expression Media) for my professionnal clients who need a DAM software.

This could be useful in so many enterprises, NGO, non-profit organisations, local authority where more than one person deals with pictures!

Iview / Media Pro is doing it since a long time, but features speaking LR is way better.
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Rodney L Wright

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I was extremely disappointed to note that the beta of LR4 does NOT contain any ability for multi-user, network hosted operations. Do we have to wait until the 22nd century?
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Christian Van Hanja

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here are the main person involved in picture workflow in the way they should be =

-Photographer (shooting photo+transmission).
-photo editing desk (editing and light postproduction+captioning+transmission).
-Art director/graphic designer. (heavy-postproduction+final delivery+transmission)
-final customer.

here is how it works in reality =
-photographer (shooting photo/editing/postproduction/transmission)
-photo desk/art director
-final customer.

why this? because photographer have gained the ability to process pictures by themselve with digital era.

back in the day I will shoot 60 rolls of velvia, give it to the lab, have the slide printed with my copyright and the name of the event, do a quick edit to remove the junk, and then give it to the agency. job done. and this was because there was no way to do it another way.

know i spend 5% of my time behind the camera and the rest doing editing/captioning/post-processing/transmission.
that is why I have an assistant to help me to do the annoying part such as importing the cards, scan the junk, organize the files, prepare the catalogues, and do the final export and transmission

I am a photographer and I have to manage a pool of photographers on some of the jobs. that mean that i also have to make sure the guy shooting with me are doing the same thing....

so yes if there was a remote/intranet/internet/sharing option that allows every one to do his job on the same catalogue with a customised restricted access to certain function at the creation/opening of the catalogue that would be so efficient.
and It would allow to have MAJOR saving on plane ticket not having to ship everybody + equipment on location.

I could have a main catalogue accessible thru the network, hosted on a very strong machine and "x" clients who have a restricted access to what they could do on a daughter catalogue hosted on their machine. when they would press the "send the UPDATE" to the mother catalogue, it would prompt a screen off all the user saying " user X have requested to upgrade the catalogue please press OK" when other user would press OK, the main catalogue would do a backup of the current status, and then accept the modification.

like this i could create a catalogue on my workstation at the studio from my laptop at the other end of the world, and start dumping my card in the laptop who would send the low def jpeg to the workstation first to make the picture available for my assistant to start organizing the files, and would then upload the RAW file if I wanted.
A photo editor could start doing is edit remotely on this catalogue, while someone on another computer could do the captioning on each picture he have chosen because he would only see the pictures that the editor have selected .
the graphic designer would only see what is edited/captioned and would work on final images and so on with as much phase of modification/approval.

final customer would only see the final selection on his catalogue and then get back to the photographer and this network to give his feed back.

I would like to be able to focus more on my job = pressing the shutter release button and setting up some lights.
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Rodney L Wright

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Christian Van Hanja makes excellent sense for professional photographers and it is about time Adobe starts paying attention.

I have several times earlier made the case for the same need but at the advanced personal rather than professional level. I am involved in the photographing of large numbers of aircraft, spacecraft and aerospace artifacts. I need the cataloging available for access from my laptop while travelling, from our home computers when editing, and on locations when travelling.

The multi-user, networked shared catalog makes sense on so many levels. It has now been years since many of us suggested this capability, yet judging from the Lightroom 4 beta, Adobe is making excuses rather than giving their customers what they need.
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Christian Van Hanja

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I think our wishes are important for Adobe and I know how easy it is to say "you guys should do this and that" vs actually make it happen in a foolproof software.

but my 2 cts is nowadays, it's all about mobility. i have a VERY capable laptop, but let's face it =

1) I don't want to lug my Pegasus R6 with me on a trip to be able to satisfy one of my customer while I am abroad by carrying all my latest job with me, and it will never be able to fight against my MacPro on SAS

2) today is all about collaborative work around the planet, and cloud working .

3) this could help very disabled person to work in image production without having to be on the field.

4) internet connection are going faster and faster every year so why not starting to think about being able to work everywhere.

5) After five days of holidays, I start feeling guilty sitting on the side of the pool... what a relief it could be if I could use that time to do a little clean-up of my image bank instead of being grumpy with my family....;-)

6) Yesterday, while working with another photographer, I spent 12h transferring files via fire wire 800 hard drive before figuring out that my new 1Gb network was actually 2 time faster.... network speed is up and ready for the fight now.

7) Doing a very capable "base station" is actually not that expensive = 1 MacMini server with 2 SSD+1 pegasus-R6 12Tb+ a good 1 Gb switch, and you are ready to rock under 3000$ - and it could allow you to make that laptop last a couple of year because you don't really need computing power anymore.
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Laurel Soper

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Great examples Christian, Eric, and Rodney, of the need for a multi-user catalog. Let me add my request. Our marketing department is using Lightroom to manage our photo collection but it is a pain sharing the catalog among us. We are an Adobe shop, using InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc. and would be so much more productive if we had a multi-user LR catalog.

Adobe, your customers are telling you the time is now for a shareable, networkable, multi-user Lightroom catalog. It's not a revolutionary idea.
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Rodney L Wright

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Our home network uses Gigabit Ethernet connections, N wireless, and at the center is Microsoft Home Server...so there are customers out there that have the power to use networking and a centralized, shared catalog.

As others have said, it is time for Adobe to wake up.
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DennisL

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I work in a large commercial studio with 7 retouchers and 2 to 3 shoots going on simultaneously every day. We process tens of thousands of images a year in several different product categories. It's long past the point now that a single session, single workstation workflow is feasible. We are reluctant to move away from Lightroom simply because of the amazing feature set and great UI, but it's increasingly frustrating that we can't even share a catalog over the network.

The first step would be simply to make Lightroom network aware, not allowing concurrent connections but at least able to open the catalog on different workstations without physically copying the catalog file.

Adobe, please address this. We are on version 4 and it's the year 2012!!! Dedicate some resources to this, slap a fat price tag on the networked version, and sell it to your corporate clients that require this functionality or one of your competitors will.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Need networking ability in Lightroom!!!.
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David Craddock

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I really want to work with Lightroom on a network, I work from a laptop and a desktop, depending on where I am.

In todays world I do not see why Adobe have not included this - I for one will not be buying Lr4 after my trail runs out.

I currently use Aperture on my laptop (Mac), and my desktop is a PC so I dont get to work on the same photos - so using Lr seemed the better idea, shame it doesnt let me do so easily as it is better than Aperture in a lot of ways.

Could a plug in be made to create a work around for making it work locally and uploading to a master networked catalog?
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Robert Ardill

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Instead of going around with an external hard drive and having all of the problems of making sure all your copies of Lightroom are set up in the same way etc., why not just connect to your central PC using Teamviewer (or the equivalent?).

I do this all the time - I have one copy of Lightroom on a central PC with the catalog and all the images and I connect to it from any other PC or from my laptop using Teamviewer. It works perfectly.

When I'm on location I connect using Teamviewer over the web ... and as long as the broadband connection is reasonable it's as good as sitting at the central PC. And you can do all the development you want, go into Photoshop if necessary, and print, email etc., as though you were in the office.

Admittedly this is one-user-at-a-time, but it's better than lugging external drives with all of the attendant problems.
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Sasha K.

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My setup consists of a desktop machine, a laptop, and a QNAP network attached storage. The network is a gigabit network and I use two gigabit links, teamed, on both the network attached storage box and the desktop machine. Other than remote work / initial import, all the raw files and developed/processed output, lives on that network attached drive under the wing of hardware RAID.

I work on a desktop machine while at the studio and laptop while away. Laptop is often used to make adjustments on site with a client, and also sometimes to make use of time while on the road to import and apply metadata and initial presets / generate previews / etc.

I currently have to awkwardly copy things around. I would love Lightroom to natively support the concept of "taking a catalog on the road" and synching changes afterwards. As well as the notion of importing new content for an existing NAS-hosted catalog (or a whole new catalog).

For me it's not a multi-user problem or any manner of concurrent access problem. I just want to maintain a similar level of storage flexibility and portability for my Adobe catalogs as any other files (or indeed databases like MySQL) - which do not care if they are on a local drive or network share - or even backed up on optical media.
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Clint Steed

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For the photographer/consumer orientated it would be great to have the capabilities to take a subset of records on a portable device and then be able to synch up changes from the portable records to a centralized catalog whether it is stored on a local computer, portable hard disk, or a network drive - with access to the central repository for one user at a time. For now I'd be happy with being able to store and use a catalog from a hard wired network storage device.

Adobe has their work cut out for them! There seems to be several categories of access people are asking for from simple storage and access to a shared repository, syncing a portable catalog back to a central repository, to multi-users on a shared repository; to a multi-user, multiple access rights, connected to a centralized repository.

I do not think some people understand what they are asking for. There are already several great multi-user professional and enterprise digital asset management solutions available and I think many would be surprised at the cost of these.
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Svein Seldal

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I think one important use case is the one user, multiple workstations over network.

When you do have multiple workstations (license allows 2), the workflow Adobe wants you to use is to haul an external HDD and its PSU across these workstations. This is very tedious and prune to data loss!

Such external HDD needs to be backed up regularely. To my experience this HDD is backed up too seldom since it needs to be manually connected to the workstations.

These workstations already has a Gb network with a central NAS which in turn backs up its contents offsite. Today the LR backup is made manually from the external HDD to the NAS. When remembered.

I don't mind much about simultaneous access to LR, but I think its a major drawback that you can't store the catalog directly on the NAS even with one client. If I could store the catalog directly, it would be stored in a reliable storage with proper backup compared to the external HDD.