External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,197
External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

I am running Lightroom Classic on my 2017 5K Retina 27 inch iMac with 24 GB RAM. I have almost 300,000 images in one catalog and my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file is typically 150-200 GB. Unfortunately my computer's internal SSD is only 512GB, so I find that Lightroom often runs slowly. I have tried periodically deleting my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata, but this is not an optimum solution.

Now that external SSDs are getting less expensive, does it makes sense to move my LR Catalog and previews, etc, to an external drive connected through the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port?

If so, what size should I buy? Would a 500GB drive be sufficient if all I use it for is the Lightroom Catalog?

And do I need a Thunderbolt drive or will USB-C 3.2 or 3.2 be fast enough?

Thanks and stay well....

pixelgenius
pixelgenius Senior Member • Posts: 4,208
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?
pcgould
pcgould Contributing Member • Posts: 618
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

CameraCarl wrote:

I am running Lightroom Classic on my 2017 5K Retina 27 inch iMac with 24 GB RAM. I have almost 300,000 images in one catalog and my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file is typically 150-200 GB. Unfortunately my computer's internal SSD is only 512GB, so I find that Lightroom often runs slowly. I have tried periodically deleting my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata, but this is not an optimum solution.

Now that external SSDs are getting less expensive, does it makes sense to move my LR Catalog and previews, etc, to an external drive connected through the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port?

If so, what size should I buy? Would a 500GB drive be sufficient if all I use it for is the Lightroom Catalog?

And do I need a Thunderbolt drive or will USB-C 3.2 or 3.2 be fast enough?

Thanks and stay well....

My LR catalog (55K images) and all my files are on my Samsung T5 - 2TB SSD but with prices coming down, you could go for the 4TB. It is connected to my iMac via USB-C and it is fine. My Mac also has just the 512GB internal SSD so all that is on it is the OS plus apps and files that are in my DropBox, GoogleDrive etc. so I've still got 180 GB free. 
I backup the Mac and the Samsung to another 4TB drive + Backblaze cloud backup.

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graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 6,772
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

pcgould wrote:

My LR catalog (55K images) and all my files are on my Samsung T5 - 2TB SSD but with prices coming down, you could go for the 4TB. It is connected to my iMac via USB-C and it is fine.

Is there a 4TB version of the Samsung T5? I have never seen one larger than 2TB.

I am thinking about moving everything to a 4TB SSD, but the way I would do it is with one of the bare 4TB SSDs by Samsung or SanDisk (currently running at $450), and installing it in a good USB-C 3.1 external enclosure ($35-50).

I agree that USB 3.1 is fine for the speed. It would be different if it was the type of SSD in a Samsung X5, which is like a Mac internal SSD, beyond 2000MB/sec. To take advantage of that speed requires Thunderbolt 3. But that speed and expense is not necessary for simple image retrieval.

robgendreau Veteran Member • Posts: 7,484
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

CameraCarl wrote:

I am running Lightroom Classic on my 2017 5K Retina 27 inch iMac with 24 GB RAM. I have almost 300,000 images in one catalog and my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file is typically 150-200 GB. Unfortunately my computer's internal SSD is only 512GB, so I find that Lightroom often runs slowly. I have tried periodically deleting my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata, but this is not an optimum solution.

Now that external SSDs are getting less expensive, does it makes sense to move my LR Catalog and previews, etc, to an external drive connected through the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port?

If so, what size should I buy? Would a 500GB drive be sufficient if all I use it for is the Lightroom Catalog?

And do I need a Thunderbolt drive or will USB-C 3.2 or 3.2 be fast enough?

Thanks and stay well....

I think some responses here assume want to just store images on that external, not the Lr catalog and previews.

Not sure what your budget is but one the Thunderbolt 3 super fast SSDs like the Samsung X5 would probably be as fast or awfully close as the internal drive. I don't have that one, but the MacSales' Envoy that is almost as fast and it really whizzes. I'd think that would be your best shot.

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JPAlbert Contributing Member • Posts: 897
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

If you move your photos to an external drive, REMEMBER:
You must have at least A SECOND EXTERNAL drive to serve as the backup for the "primary external drive". Two backups is better.

This is above and beyond backing up your internal drive.

Having said that, an SSD would do fine.
USB3 is probably all you need. Perhaps a Samsung t5...?

USB3.1 gen2 will offer faster reads/writes, but may not be noticeable in regular use. And very few of these drives exist "pre-packaged". You have to buy a USB3.1 gen2 enclosure, and match it up with a "bare" nvme drive. I put one together and get reads of 965MBps from it.

OP CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,197
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

JPAlbert wrote:

If you move your photos to an external drive, REMEMBER:
You must have at least A SECOND EXTERNAL drive to serve as the backup for the "primary external drive". Two backups is better.

This is above and beyond backing up your internal drive.

Having said that, an SSD would do fine.
USB3 is probably all you need. Perhaps a Samsung t5...?

USB3.1 gen2 will offer faster reads/writes, but may not be noticeable in regular use. And very few of these drives exist "pre-packaged". You have to buy a USB3.1 gen2 enclosure, and match it up with a "bare" nvme drive. I put one together and get reads of 965MBps from it.

Thanks, but as one of the posts above mentioned, I am not asking about moving any photos; just the Lightroom Catalog and Previews. All my image files are on external drives and backed up in multiple places.

OP CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,197
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

robgendreau wrote:

CameraCarl wrote:

I am running Lightroom Classic on my 2017 5K Retina 27 inch iMac with 24 GB RAM. I have almost 300,000 images in one catalog and my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file is typically 150-200 GB. Unfortunately my computer's internal SSD is only 512GB, so I find that Lightroom often runs slowly. I have tried periodically deleting my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata, but this is not an optimum solution.

Now that external SSDs are getting less expensive, does it makes sense to move my LR Catalog and previews, etc, to an external drive connected through the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port?

If so, what size should I buy? Would a 500GB drive be sufficient if all I use it for is the Lightroom Catalog?

And do I need a Thunderbolt drive or will USB-C 3.2 or 3.2 be fast enough?

Thanks and stay well....

I think some responses here assume want to just store images on that external, not the Lr catalog and previews.

Not sure what your budget is but one the Thunderbolt 3 super fast SSDs like the Samsung X5 would probably be as fast or awfully close as the internal drive. I don't have that one, but the MacSales' Envoy that is almost as fast and it really whizzes. I'd think that would be your best shot.

Correct: I am only asking about moving the Lightroom Catalog and Previews file to an external drive. All my images are stored on external drives. I've been looking at the X5, but it is twice as expensive as a USB-C drive and I wonder if I would even notice the difference between 550 MB/sec and 2800 MB/sec for still image review, culling and editing.

pcgould
pcgould Contributing Member • Posts: 618
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

graybalanced wrote:

pcgould wrote:

My LR catalog (55K images) and all my files are on my Samsung T5 - 2TB SSD but with prices coming down, you could go for the 4TB. It is connected to my iMac via USB-C and it is fine.

Is there a 4TB version of the Samsung T5? I have never seen one larger than 2TB.

I am thinking about moving everything to a 4TB SSD, but the way I would do it is with one of the bare 4TB SSDs by Samsung or SanDisk (currently running at $450), and installing it in a good USB-C 3.1 external enclosure ($35-50).

I agree that USB 3.1 is fine for the speed. It would be different if it was the type of SSD in a Samsung X5, which is like a Mac internal SSD, beyond 2000MB/sec. To take advantage of that speed requires Thunderbolt 3. But that speed and expense is not necessary for simple image retrieval.

You are correct - the 2TB is the largest for the T5 model, I was confusing the size with a different Samsung drive.

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Kevin Novak Regular Member • Posts: 228
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

If you're a KelbyOne member, here is a great course that includes how to use your catalog on a portable drive. There are other tidbits that you might not want to use, but he gets to the heart of your question.

https://members.kelbyone.com/course/cpickett-lr-workflow/

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pixelgenius
pixelgenius Senior Member • Posts: 4,208
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?
2

Kevin Novak wrote:

If you're a KelbyOne member, here is a great course that includes how to use your catalog on a portable drive. There are other tidbits that you might not want to use, but he gets to the heart of your question.

https://members.kelbyone.com/course/cpickett-lr-

You need to pay, become a member and hear all of his sales pitches and bad jokes to learn something rather simple? 🤪

Free: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqK2HqXCXA&feature=youtu.be

pixelgenius
pixelgenius Senior Member • Posts: 4,208
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

CameraCarl wrote:

robgendreau wrote:

CameraCarl wrote:

I am running Lightroom Classic on my 2017 5K Retina 27 inch iMac with 24 GB RAM. I have almost 300,000 images in one catalog and my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file is typically 150-200 GB. Unfortunately my computer's internal SSD is only 512GB, so I find that Lightroom often runs slowly. I have tried periodically deleting my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata, but this is not an optimum solution.

Now that external SSDs are getting less expensive, does it makes sense to move my LR Catalog and previews, etc, to an external drive connected through the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port?

If so, what size should I buy? Would a 500GB drive be sufficient if all I use it for is the Lightroom Catalog?

And do I need a Thunderbolt drive or will USB-C 3.2 or 3.2 be fast enough?

Thanks and stay well....

I think some responses here assume want to just store images on that external, not the Lr catalog and previews.

Not sure what your budget is but one the Thunderbolt 3 super fast SSDs like the Samsung X5 would probably be as fast or awfully close as the internal drive. I don't have that one, but the MacSales' Envoy that is almost as fast and it really whizzes. I'd think that would be your best shot.

Correct: I am only asking about moving the Lightroom Catalog and Previews file to an external drive. All my images are stored on external drives. I've been looking at the X5, but it is twice as expensive as a USB-C drive and I wonder if I would even notice the difference between 550 MB/sec and 2800 MB/sec for still image review, culling and editing.

Answer provided; save your money.

OP CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,197
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

Thanks, I shall.

stratman1976
stratman1976 Contributing Member • Posts: 899
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

I would also recommend to not put all your images in one catalog. The bigger the catalog, the slower. Why not make a new one each year?

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pixelgenius
pixelgenius Senior Member • Posts: 4,208
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?
  • stratman1976 wrote:

I would also recommend to not put all your images in one catalog. The bigger the catalog, the slower.

Not so and so many disadvantages.

Why not make a new one each year?

No.....🙀

https://petapixel.com/2019/10/29/if-youre-using-multiple-catalogs-in-lightroom-youre-doing-it-wrong/

Nick5
Nick5 Senior Member • Posts: 1,318
Re: External SSD for Lightroom Catalog?

CameraCarl wrote:

I am running Lightroom Classic on my 2017 5K Retina 27 inch iMac with 24 GB RAM. I have almost 300,000 images in one catalog and my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file is typically 150-200 GB. Unfortunately my computer's internal SSD is only 512GB, so I find that Lightroom often runs slowly. I have tried periodically deleting my Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata, but this is not an optimum solution.

Now that external SSDs are getting less expensive, does it makes sense to move my LR Catalog and previews, etc, to an external drive connected through the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port?

If so, what size should I buy? Would a 500GB drive be sufficient if all I use it for is the Lightroom Catalog?

And do I need a Thunderbolt drive or will USB-C 3.2 or 3.2 be fast enough?

Thanks and stay well....

Like you I have a 27” iMac, but it has a 2TB Fushion drive. 
My Lightroom Folder on the Desktop has my Catalog, Previews, Smart Previews, which is small and no longer create, Back Up and some other Adobe created folders. 
I have “One Catalog” from 2003 first “Digital point and shoot” through today.

When first converting to Lightroom from Aperture, the biggest hurdle for me, and others was keeping LR “connected”. By that, I mean where was importing and where were the images going. As I Import through LR by DATE, my anal recall allows me to pull up images pretty quickly as the DATE YYYY-MM-DD allows me to add description. 2019-04-02 Opening Day. 
All images are on LaCie 2TB Thunderbolt/USB-C Rugged HardDrives, with the big Orange Bumper Pad. I have 4 of the 2TB drives above with 2003- 2011, 2012-2015, 2016-2019 and 2020-20.. and not to mention each multiplied by 4 for back up. 
the reason for the Rugged Drives is we have a second home which I bring my 27 iMac in a nicely designed Gator Bag for the iMac. Packing and unpacking drives, having the soft Tacky grip design certainly helps in the oops department. Add new images upon Import, just hook up a Copy Drive, and drag over DATE folder of images that aren’t on the Copy Drives. 
all of the drives are are named as the primary drive so I can connect either drive from 2016-2019 and they flow through. A Couple of copy drives remain in each location and the Primary Current drive plus a Copy are in the car driving with me with computer back and forth. Do a quick “Bank Reconciliation Statement”of what’s missing and copy over.

My LR Folder, (Catalog, Previews, Back Up etc) which is on the desk top does go to the cloud as well.
I could buy another iMac for the other home and put the LR Folder which contains the information above on a Solid State drive like you mention and hook up. Certainly much easier than lugging around the big computer. Don’t know if I could have the “ cloud” back up as an option as that part of the computer geek is above my pay grade. 
Some have mentioned that having the LR Catalog on the Desktop has optimal performance, again don’t know compared to a separate External  SSD as I never tried with one. 
For me having back ups of Images, and Catalog through Cloud and Several Time Machine Back UPS is working for me. 
Please let me know if you see any improvements with more empty space on a separate SSD External and improvements in LR as your Computer does have much room for “Social Distancing”.

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