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Wednesday, 22 January 2020   Subscription to updates  RSS
11:03, 01 March 2018

Keeping Lightroom Classic’s Files in Check: Part 1

As Lightroom Classic (classic is an outstanding example of a particular style; something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality; of the first or highest quality, class, or rank – something that exemplifies its class) users we focus on the job it does with our photos, both in terms of managing them and processing them, but it is worth taking a moment to think about the footprint the Classic-related files leave on our computers, which when left unchecked only continues to grow over time.
Disclaimer: Let’s just (may refer to: Just (surname) “Just” (song), a song by Radiohead Just! (series), a series of short-story collections for children by Andy Griffiths Jordan University of Science and Technology, a) acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things your photos and videos will require far more storage (may refer to) space than your Lightroom catalog and its related files ever will. However, because this is so obvious we all take steps to manage our disk space relating to our photo storage. The files related to running (and backing up) Lightroom tend to accumulate in the background, and it isn’t until we find ourselves running short on disk space that we start to wonder what is going on behind the scenes. My goal is to simply shed a little light on the subject so that you can make (or MAKE may refer to: Make (software), a computer software build automation tool Make (magazine), an American magazine and television program Make Architects, a UK architecture practice Make,) the decisions you need for your system. There is not a one-size-fits all answer here, and you shouldn’t just run out and make changes to your setup if you aren’t having any problems. I just want you to be more fully in the driver’s seat as you make decisions down the road.
When you look under Lightroom’s hood you find that there are a number of files that work in concert to make Lightroom function, and all of these require some amount of hard disk space. By default, all of these files (or filing may refer to) exist on your startup drive, and for many of us that drive is already chock-full of lot’s of other (or The Other may refer to) files too. Increasingly our startup drives are solid state drives (or The Drive may refer to: Driving, the act of controlling a vehicle Road, an identifiable thoroughfare, route, way or path between two places Road trip, a journey on roads Driveway, a private road) for improved performance, which tend to be smaller in storage capacity. This combination of factors can leave some of us running low on free space, which becomes a performance drag of its own. Let’s take a closer look (look is to use sight to perceive an object) at what these files are, where they can be found, and what you might be able to do to manage them over (may refer to) time.
The Catalog
As the most important of all of the Lightroom-related files this is a great place to start. By default (may refer to: Default effect (psychology), the option that a chooser receives if s/he does nothing Default (law), the failure to do something required by law Default rule in legal theory, is a rule) the catalog is created within a folder (most commonly refers to: Folder, one who folds laundry or dry cleaning, e.g., (see Fluff and Fold) File folder, a kind of folder that holds loose paper Folder or folding may also refer to) named Lightroom within your Pictures folder. If you are not sure where your catalog is located you can go to Lightroom > Catalog Settings (may refer to: A location (geography) where something is set Set construction in theatrical scenery Setting (narrative), the place and time in a work of narrative, especially fiction Setting up to) > General (general officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations’ air forces or marines) (PC: Edit > Catalog Settings) and find (or The Find or Finding may refer to) its name and location displayed along with (or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel With (novel), a novel by Donald Harrington With (album),) other important information about the catalog itself. Click the Show button to open a new file browser window with that folder selected.

All of the work you do in Lightroom is automatically stored in that catalog file, and as a result the file size (is the magnitude or dimensions of a thing, or how big something is. Size can be measured as length, width, height, diameter, perimeter, area, volume, or mass) of the catalog grows over time. The size in bytes of that catalog file will (may refer to) depend on how many (may refer to: plural A quantifier that can be used with count nouns – often preceded by “as” or “too” or “so” or “that”; amounting to a large but indefinite number; “many temptations”; “a good) photos you have imported and how much work (usually refers to employment) you have done on those photos. This catalog, managing about 30,000 images, is about 515 MB, which is not much of a disk space issue. My main catalog on my desktop is over 3GB and manages over 150,000 images.
However, there’s a saying in backpacking that “every ounce counts,” so for some people shaving some megabytes off their catalog might be attractive, but what can you do? The easiest thing to do is to run the File > Optimize Catalog function. Those with really large catalogs are the only ones likely to see any real difference in file size as a result, but those are also the people most likely to be interested in reducing its file size (and possibly improving performance (is completion of a task with application of knowledge, skills and abilities)). There is no harm in doing it, so give it a try.
Managing Catalog Backups
While Classic doesn’t have a function (may refer to) to back up your photos (photograph or photo is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic medium such as a CCD or a CMOS chip) it does have an automated mechanism for creating backup copies of the catalog file on a regular basis. If you go back (human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the shoulders) to Catalog Settings > General you can configure Lightroom to periodically create an exact copy of the catalog file on a schedule of your choosing. The next time you exit Lightroom on that schedule you will be prompted to run the catalog backup process, and it is only on that dialog box that you can choose where (may refer to: Where?, one of the Five Ws in journalism Where (SQL), a database language clause, a provider of location-based applications via mobile phones Where (magazine), a series of) you want the backup copy created (ideally you’d choose a different drive than the one used for your working catalog). Worth noting that as of Lightroom CC 2015/6 we have the ability to adjust that schedule from the Back Up Catalog dialog box too.

Each time this process runs an exact copy of your catalog (the .lrcat file) at that moment in time is created in the backup location, and then (as of Lightroom CC 2015/6) the backup copy is compressed into a zip file as a way to reduce disk (or disk (computing and American English) may refer to) space (and to keep people (people is a plurality of persons considered as a whole, as is the case with an ethnic group or nation) from opening a backup copy of the catalog by mistake).
Using this backup feature can help protect you against data loss through drive failure (if they are being saved to a different drive) or catalog corruption (which is rare, but can happen and is not always obvious at first), and I highly recommend using it, but even though the backup copies are now compressed, Lightroom will continue to keep creating them until the chosen destination drive is full. Each time (is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future) the process runs a new (compressed) copy of the catalog is created and there it will remain until the user (you) removes them. This is easy to do, but I’ve encountered many people who have (or having may refer to: the concept of ownership any concept of possession; see Possession (disambiguation) an English “verb” used: to denote linguistic possession in a broad sense as an auxiliary) never given it a second thought and have every backup copy (may refer to: Copying or the product of copying (including the plural “copies”); the duplication of information or an artifact Cut, copy and paste, a method of reproducing text or other data in) of the catalog ever created still sitting in that folder.
I periodically go to the folder where they are created using my file browser and delete all but the most recent (Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch) few. If you think about it, should you ever need (need is something that is necessary for an organism to live a healthy life) to restore a backup catalog you would choose the most (may refer to) recent one right? But what if the data you were hoping to retrieve wasn’t in the most recent catalog copy, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few iterative versions on hand to go back through? Yes, this is more redundant redundancy, but I personally enjoy the peace of mind of having them around. The really important part is that you need to be in control and not let automated tasks run unchecked. You may just have gigabytes of drive space (is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction) waiting to be reclaimed.
Important public service announcement, before you go deleting all of your old backup copies make sure you know where your working catalog is located first (or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1)) (this is shown on that Catalog Settings panel we saw earlier) and that it is not somehow located among your backups. You’d be surprised how many people I’ve encountered who only discovered their catalog was among their backups (information technology, a backup, or the process of backing up, refers to the copying and archiving of computer data so it may be used to restore the original after a data loss event) after they deleted it by mistake. How could this happen? The Default Catalog setting found in Preferences > General is usually to blame. By default, it is set to Load most recent catalog (or catalogue may refer to), so all it takes (take is a single continuous recorded performance) is a curious user opening an old backup copy of a catalog, then closing Lightroom to set that old backup copy as the “most recent” and the next time that person launches Lightroom that backup copy opens. Please take a moment to change your Default Catalog preference to anything other than Load most recent!

I’ll wrap this up in next week’s post with a look at Classic’s preview caches. See you then!
The post Keeping Lightroom (Lightroom (officially Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) is a family of image organization and image manipulation software developed by Adobe Systems for Windows and macOS) Classic’s Files in Check: Part 1 appeared first on Lightroom Killer Tips.


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