There really shouldn't be anything overwhelming about it. The only file that Lightroom opens is the catalog. The catalog can be located anywhere, on any drive that is local to your computer. In other words, it cannot be on a network drive. I'm a Windows user and the default location is in Pictures->Lightroom. In that folder is where you will find the catalog and the previews and smart previews and other related files that support the catalog. That's all there is to it. Your images can be on any hard drive of your choosing. As you import your images their location will be recorded in the catalog so that any adjustments you make will be associated with them. If the catalog is on a SSD drive it is possible that performance may be enhanced. But it's also likely that storing your images on SSD drives will not necessarily enhance performance.
This was very helpful! Many thx.
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1. Make sure your catalog and the catalog backups are on two separate drives. By default, the backups are wrongly in a subfolder of the folder containing your main catalog.
2. You need to backup your images to a separate drive than your master original images. (LR will not do this for you.)
3. Since I use multiple catalogs, my presets are NOT "stored with the catalog" so that they can be shared with all of the catalogs. You need to manually backup the preset files, just like you need to manually backup your image files.
If you really want to go crazy, this means multiple drives.
- You want your catalog and preview files on a separate drive than your original images. Since internal drives are faster than external drives, the catalog should be on an internal drive.
- Your master original images are faster on an internal drive than external, but the catalog is more important.
On my Win10 system, the OS and programs are on the C: drive.
The catalog and previews are on the internal D: drive.
The catalog backups are on the internal E: drive.
Some of the original images are on the internal E: drive, some on an external Q: drive.
Catalog and image and preset backups are done to the external P: drive.
In theory, an SSD drive for the catalog would give a slight performance boost. In practice, whether or not you will notice the difference is up for debate.