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Scott's Column
Lightroom & Another External Drive

April 1, 2013
By Scott Lewis

I bought an additional external hard drive... when space was running out on my existing drives. I also started using Adobe Lightroom to star managing my photos.

Current Topics:

Another External Drive

I am stuck. I was running out of space on one of my external hard drives. I had two, a 1 TB and 3 TB. So... I bought a 4 TB external hard drive. The two original drives were on my server. The drives are all USB 3.0 drives. My server and my desktop each have two USB 3.0 ports. Since I wanted to use the speed... I rearranged my files and did the following:

I moved all the files from the 3 TB drive to the 4 TB drive.
I moved all the files from the 1 TB drive to the 3 TB drive.
I put the 3 & 4 TB drives on my server.
I put the 1 TB drive on my desktop.

To make the most of it... I am using the 1 TB drive to hold all my photos. I was already over 300 GB worth, and it was the easiest thing to move to the drive.

I also moved some files from the internal drive of the server to the 3 TB drive (but this is because I had moved some files off the 1 TB drive to the internal drive to keep from running out of space).

I also had to update all my backups. I currently backup my desktop to the server's internal drive. This includes all the files on the 1 TB external drive. I have this happen every Sunday at 3:00 AM.

On Monday at 9:00 AM, while I am at work... the server backs up all of the files previously backed up to it... as well as all of its own critical files to one of the external hard drives. A few very important files are backed up to both external drives on the server, but that is just paranoia.

Basically, I have three copies of everything on my desktop, and two copies of everything on my server. The remaining files that take up so much space are not important, and so they are not backed up. However, I do think I will try and find a way to at least backup a list of all those files should something happen and I need to think about them.

Oh yea... why am I stuck? Well, I have been researching NAS devices. Network Attached Storage. I am fond of the Drobo. I like that you can stuff a box with drives of any size and it will us the space as it sees fit. There are some issues with the Drobo, but I am not sure they will effect me much.

There are lots of NAS solutions out there. Granted, most home users don't have a need for a NAS... at least not one that holds a minimum of 4 drives, which is my requirement. In fact... having one or two external drives is more than enough for most people.

Hard core photographers, and videographers are a different groups. These people tend to have enormous file collections. Mine is small at 300+ GB.

Because I needed the drive soon (I was storing stuff that should have been on the server on my desktop to prevent the server from completely filling up) I did not have time to research getting a NAS. Also, I was not sure I wanted to invest in one yet. See... the least expensive NAS I have heard about (this is without research, just from memory) is $400 without drives. Add in the cost of drives and we are spending a lot of money. I picked up the 4 TB drive for $219. So I was up and running and have plenty of space available for a while longer.

But will I just get another external drive the next time I run out of space... or invest heavily in a NAS that holds at least 14 TB. Why at least 14 TB... because if I switch from a bunch of external drives to a NAS, at the minimum I want to move everything from the two drives on my server (3 & 4 TB) to the NAS, and have enough room for at least that much more (7 x 2 = 14).

Right now... I think it would be around $1500 for a NAS that can hold 16 TB. Or I can buy two more 4 TB drive for about $400 when the time comes. Hmmm... see how I am stuck. Granted I will need a USB 3.0 hub to make use of more external drives, and I will need another surge protector just for all the external drives. But the cost is significantly less that a NAS.

What to do when your stuck.

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Lightroom

I just started using Lightroom. A friend turned me onto it. I have been using Bridge, which is part of Photoshop, for two years now. I like the simplicity of Bridge. I am very good about keeping files organized (as you can tell from the section above). So I was weary of using Lightroom which is a completely different workflow.

Overall I like Lightroom. But it is not a perfect world. The beauty of lightroom is that it makes it much easier to make changes to multiple images. You can do that in Bridge with Camera RAW, but it takes quite a bit more work. I had just started figuring out how to turn changes in Camera RAW into Presets for Bridge. Think of Camera RAW as the develop module to Bridge, whereas Lightroom has this all integrated.

So... what don't I like about Lightroom. Well, for starters, the first thing I did not like was the inability for the "library" to show only what was in a single folder. Let me explain. I have one folder called "Photo Projects" on my hard drive. In that folder I create a folder for each event, such as "2013 - Grand Canyon." I then copy all my RAW images form my camera into that folder.

So with a folder 2013 - Grand Canyon I just do my manipulations using Bridge & Camera RAW. The images stay in the folder, and Camera RAW leaves a second file with the RAW image to hold the changes. When it comes time to generate JPG images I will highlight one or more photos in Bridge, right click and select Export... I have three exports that I use which just determine the maximum resolution of the files... and puts them into a sub-folder "JPG". If I use Photoshop on a file I will put those files in a PSD sub-folder. Of course, if I export Photoshop files from Bridge, those too go into a sub-folder JPG under the PSD folder.

Are you with me... we have this:

D:\Photo Projects - the main folder
D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon - contains RAW images.
D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon\JPG - contains JPG images.
D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon\PSD - contains Photoshop files.
D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon\PSD\JPG - contains JPG versions of Photoshop files.

The problem for Lightroom is... there is no way to tell it to look at D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon only. So it displays all the files it all the sub-folders, making it difficult to know what's what in the Library module.

The simple solution to this was to create a RAW folder. So now I have this:

D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon\RAW - contains RAW images.
D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon\JPG - contains JPG images.
D:\Photo Projects\2013 - Grand Canyon\PSD - contains Photoshop files.

Notice I removed the JPG sub-folder under the PSD folder. Now I can point Lightroom to either of these three sub-folders to look at those images. The solution (or work-around) was simple, but it makes my workflow more complicated. My export presets in Lightroom had to be setup to prompt for a folder, because I no longer put files in a sub-folder. When exporting from the RAW sub-folder I have to navigate to the JPG folder, and do the same from Photoshop when saving JPG files.

So there are definite trade offs.

I have not been thrilled with the back and forth between images in different folders in Lightroom. I suppose I could start building collections or catalogs, or whatever they're called in Lightroom, but I prefer the simple approach I have, by using folders. I am pretty far into it with images going back to 2009 this way. Actually, on my previous computer I had a similar folder set, but the drive that held those early photos took a bump and stopped working. Someday I will invest the money to send that drive to a data recovery company and get the photos off of it... those photos go back to around 2000 or so.

I have also found issues with Lightroom importing files. It gave me a couple of errors during the initial import. OK, so it didn't import some photos. The next time I "synchronized" the main folder and asked it to import new photos, it gave the same error. Here I noticed that it stopped. I couldn't figure out why. Then I finally did the save as... and it saved a more detailed error message that included the files that were bad. One was LF.jpeg. It claimed was corrupt. It was a worthless file so I deleted it. Another file was bad and it said to resave it in Photoshop. I did.

I restarted the sync/import again and it gave the error of the LF.jpeg file... though this time it gave the name of the file in the initial error. But it was deleted. So I deleted it from the recycle bin. Still gave the error. Next I moved the folder the file was in to another hard drive (my desktop) including the 1142 images in that folder. The sync/export still gave an error on this file. So I did the save as... again and there was another copy of that file in another subfolder.

Delete that file and move the folder from my desktop back into my Photo Projects folder. Start the sync/import again... and it completed. But the count was low. It did not import 1100+ files... plus any other files from other folders that might have never gotten to from the error.

I looked and only 462 files form the 1142 files were imported. So I pointed lightroom to that exact sub-folder and told it to sync/import. It initially said there were 680 files to import. I clicked the import button and after about three minutes of churning it said there was nothing to import.

Unfortunately, this is where this story will have to end. It is the end of the month and I have to publish this article... before I can figure out why it won't import all the files from this folder. And I still don't know how many other files were overlooked during the previous sync/import sessions. So I will have to go folder by folder to see if any folders are short of images.

This is not going to be easy when I have over 17,000 images in Lightroom now... and need to find some 680+ files missing. This is not fun. I'll have more next month.

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Conclusion

Next month we will have more on Lightroom. I figured out why the import didn't happen, just not in time to write it up. Plus I need material for next month. So expect more about Lightroom.

Until then...

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