15 Replies Latest reply on Jan 2, 2015 2:45 PM by DdeGannes

    Multiple libraries - why not?

    turner111 Level 1

      I realize this might be beating a dead horse, but after reading around a bit I can't quite get why having multiple libraries is regarding as "bad".

       

      I'm looking for alternatives to iPhoto; I am considering iPhoto Library Manager.

       

      Reason: We (our home) have about 87,000 photos. Our iPhoto Library is 316 GB. Simply put: that's too big.

       

      Now, I realize that iPhoto and Lightroom handle libraries differently, but the primary concern, as it is with iPhoto, is that all the eggs are in one basket. As I'm just starting with Lightroom, maybe the man negative considerations are that LR cannot open/search multiple libraries?  (If that's the case, it seems odd that LR would not let a user open multiple libraries simultaneously and transfer/copy between them.)

       

      Any help appreciated...

       

      thanks,

      Andrew

        • 1. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
          Keith_Reeder Level 4

          If by "libraries" you mean Lightroom catalogues, it's simply that there's no performance advantage to be had from multiple catalogues - 87k files is well within Lr's capabilities. 

          • 2. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
            turner111 Level 1

            Hi Keith -

             

            Whoops - yes, catalogs...

             

            It's not really a concern of whether or not Lightroom can "handle" tons of files - heck, iPhoto can. It's a question of whether it's worth putting in tons of work in case the catalog(s) was to become corrupted at some point.

             

            Also - I don't know how large a Lightroom catalog will be compared to one containing the same images in iPhoto (maybe I'll try that out) but it's also a matter of transfers and backing up.

             

            thanks!

            Andrew

            • 3. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
              dj_paige Level 9

              Reason: We (our home) have about 87,000 photos. Our iPhoto Library is 316 GB. Simply put: that's too big.

              Actually, there are people here in this and other forums that report catalogs of 5 times that many images working properly.

               

              Now, I realize that iPhoto and Lightroom handle libraries differently, but the primary concern, as it is with iPhoto, is that all the eggs are in one basket.

              I fail to see the relevance of this "eggs are in one basket" analogy. If you were talking about real eggs, and you put them in one basket and then dropped the basket, now you have zero eggs. Big loss. If you are talking about computer files, you can and should make backups on a different physical disk of the catalog file and of your photos, so if there is a problem where your catalog is damaged, you still have a recent backup. Relatively minor loss.

               

              As I'm just starting with Lightroom, maybe the man negative considerations are that LR cannot open/search multiple libraries?  (If that's the case, it seems odd that LR would not let a user open multiple libraries simultaneously and transfer/copy between them.)

              Yes, this is a major reason why you won't want to have multiple catalogs in most cases. you cannot do a search across catalogs. If you need to find a photo in Catalog A and a photo in Catalog B, there are no tools to allow this to happen. Nor is there any way to have multiple Lightroom catalogs open at one time.

               

              Other drawbacks (all of which are things that have actually happened to people using multiple catalogs).

               

              • Photos can be accidentally imported into the wrong catalog without realizing it, this causing greater difficulties in searching for and finding these photos
              • It takes more time to switch from one catalog to another in Lightroom, compared to separating/categorizing/organizing images by keywords or collections, where the time to switch from one keyword to another, or one collection to another, is almost instantaneous.
              • Multiple catalogs requires the human user to remember what catalog the photo is in, and human memory in notoriously fallible. Thus you wind up searching in Catalog A, then Catalog B, then catalog C, etc. for your photos. With a single catalog, this isn't an issue, if you know you are looking for keyword "winery", that's all you need to know, you don't have to remember which catalog you put it into.

               

              With catalogs that run into the 10s of thousands or 100s of thousands of images, relying on human memory to remember what catalog the photos are in is simply an inefficient way of doing things. The tools in Lightroom, when used properly in one catalog, make handling large amounts of photos easier, not harder. So simplify your life, use a single catalog, and the tools in Lightroom for organizing.

              • 4. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Remember that your images are not in the catalog. They are in folders on your hard drive. The catalog simply points to those images. The catalog generates previews and the previews folder can become quite large. But it still isn't part of the catalog.

                 

                The biggest advantage of using a single catalog is that you don't have to remember which catalog an image is in. If you use keywords then it would be much quicker to locate an image in a single catalog.

                 

                Having said all that, there is no hard and fast rule that says you must use a single catalog. If multiple catalogs makes sense for you in your situation then by all means do it.

                • 5. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                  turner111 Level 1

                  Thanks dj.

                   

                  As far as searching multiple catalogs... well, we name everything we transfer and back up - hence, it would not be too much of a stretch to know to look in "Zoo Visit 2009" to find photos from our zoo visit in 2009... I can see where this would be trouble if someone didn't name catalogs.

                   

                  However, I also realize that a catalog this miniscule might not make sense, so maybe it would be by year, with named subfolders or whatever the method is. Not sure yet...

                   

                  Same comment applies to a single corrupted catalog; while backups are great, you might not necessarily know when it happens if it isn't something that either crashes the program or is otherwise not immediately noticeable.

                   

                  BTW, "Winery" happens to be pretty prevalent in our library

                   

                  thanks

                  Andrew

                  • 6. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                    turner111 Level 1

                    Hi Jim-

                     

                    Yes, I'm definitely aware that the catalog is not the images themselves. As noted, I'm not concerned with remember where stuff is, as we name all master folders.

                     

                    Still on the fence!

                     

                    thanks

                    Andrew

                    • 7. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                      dj_paige Level 9

                      As far as searching multiple catalogs... well, we name everything we transfer and back up - hence, it would not be too much of a stretch to know to look in "Zoo Visit 2009" to find photos from our zoo visit in 2009... I can see where this would be trouble if someone didn't name catalogs.

                       

                      This is the perfect situation to use a keyword.

                       

                      However, I also realize that a catalog this miniscule might not make sense, so maybe it would be by year, with named subfolders or whatever the method is. Not sure yet...

                      The problem with catalogs by year is that you now have to remember the year of 87,000 photos. This is an impossible task, it cannot be done. Human memory simply doesn't work that way.

                       

                      Even in the example of "Zoo Visit 2009", suppose you want that really cute photo of the kids outside of the monkey cage. Now again, you have to remember what year that was taken in order to find the photo. As I said, this is a place where human memory simply doesn't work well, and by splitting your catalog into years, you have made your search difficult. If you have one catalog, and search for keywords kids and monkey, the search is pretty simple. Your approach of catalogs by year makes sense only if you can associate a year with every single one of your photos in your memory, and then retain that memory. If you use keywords, this is a natural descriptor of the photo content, and photo content is the way everyone thinks of photos (kids, grandma, ocean, beach, winery, etc.)

                       

                      The whole idea of using a database is to make finding the items you need as simple as possible. As soon as you start breaking things up into multiple databases, you have destroyed much of the usefulness of a database and you have to rely on your (fallible) memory.

                      Same comment applies to a single corrupted catalog; while backups are great, you might not necessarily know when it happens if it isn't something that either crashes the program or is otherwise not immediately noticeable.

                      There are no guarantees. Your solution of multiple catalogs then suffers from the same drawback, that your catalog can get corrupted, causing you to lose the organization and editing on those photos. (By the way, I should point out again that there are thousands ... 100s of thousands? ... millions? of Lightroom users who use catalogs and they work; very very very tiny percent ever report corrupted catalogs, but yes, there are no guarantees. Professionals who rely on Lightroom to access their entire portfolio have placed 500,000 images into a single catalog ... but there are no guarantees) If you are really that worried about catalog corruption, you'd be better off using your operating system to organize, you ought to avoid catalogs entirely and the problem goes away. Oh ... wait ... your file system is really just a database on your computer ... so I guess that same problem with a database would eliminate this as a possibility. I guess you should PRINT every single one of your photos, and then no computer glitches could destroy your photos or the organization ... oh wait ...

                       

                      Listen, Andrew, if you want to use multiple catalogs, I wish you luck. I think that is 100% a horrible decision, but it's your decision.

                      • 8. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                        NicHamilton Level 3

                        As for your earlier question about the size of the library, I have a Lightroom library of 50,000 images which is around a Gig in size but this doesn't really help you as the size of the library is determined not just by the number of images but also the amount of metadata in each image and image manipulation.

                         

                        Like the others I really would strongly recommend one library...it is so much quicker and as already pointed out metadata (much of which is added automatically) and a database are much more reliable than the human memory which is not only sometimes forgetful (you'll get there if you haven't yet) but often completely wrong.

                        • 9. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                          turner111 Level 1

                          dj, appreciate the input, but I'm not sold. The reasoning isn't holding up.

                           

                          1) You say I have to remember what year a zoo visit was, per picture, to enable me to find a specific photo. I can't even begin to imagine what would compel you to either suggest or believe that.

                           

                          2) As you point out, the idea of using a database is to make finding files as easy as possible. Operating systems are databases, as you point out later. So, if I am looking for something - even if I know where it is - it's generally a lot faster to do a desktop search and go from the results, rather than clicking through multiple file structures. To find a named catalog through Finder (OSX obviously) and open it seems pretty fast to me. I do it with every program I use that doesn't use its own library, and that's most of them. I do understand the difference between searching for one large catalog vs. opening and searching multiple smaller catalogs.

                           

                          3) Your discussion of corruption also makes no sense to me; would you rather take the chance of having one large database corrupted or one of many smaller? I'll take one of many smaller.  I am backing up, either way. I'm sure, as you point out, that the vast majority of people using Lightroom are doing so without significant issues/corruption.

                           

                          I'm weighing my options here in order to make an informed decisions. Your arguments are not convincing, but that isn't to say I wouldn't use a single catalog vs. multiple. My task here is to find the true upside/downside to each path and weigh them.

                           

                          thanks,

                          Andrew

                          • 10. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                            JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            Then go ahead and use multiple catalogs. There is no rule that says you can't. Everyone has their own way of working. If multiple catalogs makes more sense to you then by all means do it. It may lead to some frustration later on, but since you have done the organizing you will be able to figure out how to solve it.

                            • 11. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                              dj_paige Level 9

                              1) You say I have to remember what year a zoo visit was, per picture, to enable me to find a specific photo. I can't even begin to imagine what would compel you to either suggest or believe that.

                              Because you have named the catalog or folder or whatever "Zoo Visit 2009" (or are thinking about naming it that way). That's what you said. If your thought process thinks of a specific image, kids in front of the monkey cage, you then have to know what year the photo was taken to find the photo. That is an impossible thing to do if you have 87,000 images.

                              2) As you point out, the idea of using a database is to make finding files as easy as possible. Operating systems are databases, as you point out later. So, if I am looking for something - even if I know where it is - it's generally a lot faster to do a desktop search and go from the results, rather than clicking through multiple file structures. To find a named catalog through Finder (OSX obviously) and open it seems pretty fast to me. I do it with every program I use that doesn't use its own library, and that's most of them. I do understand the difference between searching for one large catalog vs. opening and searching multiple smaller catalogs.

                              So for finding files, you use a single large database of all files. For finding photos, you believe that multiple databases are the way to go.

                               

                              Again, the problem with multiple catalogs is that YOU have to remember what catalog that is the one you want, and human memory makes mistakes. (Plus, if you are always switching from one catalog to another, that takes longer than if all the searching is done in a single catalog — and you can easily import the photos into the wrong catalog, this happens to many people who use multiple catalogs)

                               

                              3) Your discussion of corruption also makes no sense to me; would you rather take the chance of having one large database corrupted or one of many smaller?

                              Then why are you risking ALL of your computer files in a single database? If that database gets corrupted, you can't find any of your files. It all boils down to the relative likelihood in your mind, and the risk associated with it, of such a corruption and data loss happening. Your opinion might be different than mine, but I feel the risk is acceptable for both a single database which is the entirety of my computer files, and a single catalog for all of my Lightroom photos. In the end, you are trading off usefulness of the organizing system versus risk of corruption causing loss.

                              • 12. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                                turner111 Level 1

                                Thanks Nic,

                                 

                                Ok - knowing that many images is about (only) a gig is a good thing to know.

                                 

                                Since our libary is primarily "family stuff", there isn't much in terms of manipulation that can't be easily redone. For any client work, I keep backup named archives, too.

                                 

                                Memory... yeah, I gotcha. I have never really relied on my memory for project organization, though... and never had trouble finding stuff. Way back when I had to use individual CDs, or worse, I named everything carefully and used Disktracker. (If you're on a Mac, or were, you might remember that one!)

                                 

                                I am actually leaning toward a single library, since, as noted, it's faster, and our files are not edited to a critical point. Typically we don't add much in terms of descriptions, because a folder titled "Jimmy Kindergarten Graduation" is not a particular challenge to find, if that's what you're looking for.

                                 

                                I wonder, if Adobe enabled searches across multiple catalogs, what percentage of professional users would adapt.

                                 

                                Cheers

                                Andrew

                                • 13. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                                  turner111 Level 1

                                  Hi again dj,

                                   

                                  Trust me - we haven't been to the zoo, or any event, so many times that a hard drive search for named folders would leave us with too many to go through!

                                   

                                  I just tried it (search for "zoo", folder) and it took about two seconds for a list to pop up. If we were looking for a particular photo, and didn't know the year, I'm not sure how having a single large catalog would make much of a difference. We don't use many keywords, mostly because even looking through 1000 image thumbnails often quickly reveals something we're looking for.

                                   

                                  I can definitely see how a professional  - who may take 10 nearly identical product shots, for example - would greatly benefit from adhering to a much more stringent keyworking routine.

                                   

                                  Regarding importing - yes, I can also see how accidentally importing to the wrong catalog could cause some big problems, just like dropping a bunch of files on the wrong folder could. I guess I'm a little surprised that one can't drag a folder to the "source" column in the window and elect to create a catalog, (as well as keep a list of catalogs available), but I guess that's just how the program works.

                                   

                                  thanks

                                  • 14. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                                    ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

                                    There is nothing wrong with using multiple catalogs as long as you are doing it for the right reasons.

                                     

                                    Separating personal photos from those of clients is a good thing.  I separate my sports images from my "event" images.  For my non-personal images I use a new catalog each year for archiving purposes.

                                     

                                    Using multiple catalogs for your personal images does seem questionable where keywording would be a better solution.

                                     

                                    What might lead to a good solution would be a better understanding of how you organize your photos inside and outside any database.

                                    • 15. Re: Multiple libraries - why not?
                                      DdeGannes Level 5

                                      You can manage your files in different ways. I have one catalog but the actual files are in one HDD > Pictures> 2001, 2002, 2003 Jan -June, 2003 July-Dec, 2004 Jan - June, 2004 July- Dec etc, Then in each sub folder shoots by date captured and a description. Every thing is one Catalog it does not matter where the actual image files are located they can be on different drives / folders / sub folders; internal; external; network. Then you can have collections within the Lightroom Catalog for selected images, images can be in many different collections its just info as to where the original files are located not multiple image files.