24 Replies Latest reply on Jun 15, 2008 1:21 PM by (Peter_Boughton)

    Lightroom catalog together with network

    Level 1
      Hello, i have a home network with Lightroom on my base computer. The Lightroom catalog is also stored here. The pictures are on a central server, connected to the network. This works fine. But: i want to use a second computer in another room with Lightroom installed to see the pictures by using the Lightroom catalog. But this is not possible, because the catalog is not allowed to stay on a network server!!! It should be there so that it can be used within a network (therefore i have one!) Does Adobe or anybody has a solution? Thank you very much
        • 1. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
          R Neil Haugen Adobe Community Professional & MVP
          Um ... how to say this. Politely.

          The non-networkability was a "feature" of Lightroom, I guess. From the numerous threads around here and elsewhere, I understand that the engineers 1) didn't think that much of a percentage of the potential clientele really wanted or especially needed multi-computer access to the files, and 2) making a "fully" network-friendly program takes a lot of codework and time, resulting in a much more expensive program.

          The engineers did not want to take a chance on multiple computers trying to access the files simultaneously so they wrote the program so it COULD NOT be used on files across computers. That was their, in my view, simplistic (to the point of stupidity) solution. In other words, rather than allowing a single-computer user at a time but of files anywhere on the network, or creating a fully multi-computer program, they chose to make it NOT POSSIBLE to use on a network. The most restrictive way possible. Huh? For professionaly use?

          That bombed in the roll-out. So, they came up with the exporting catalog solution ... do your work, then export the part you need to share as a catalog. Then, from the other computer, "import a catalog". That is the only way to get ALL information you have created in LR into usability into another computer.

          Short of a complete export/import trip, most of your metadata and corrections made to individual files will be available to another computer if you make sure that you ctrl-s (save) your data back to all files in the Library module before leaving LR. I seem to have to save twice before I can be sure all files I'm saving to actually have everything they are supposed to have.

          As I recall, VC's (virtual copies) and collections are among the several things that only exist in the catalog on a local drive ... so if you want those to be usable on another computer, you HAVE to export the folder as a catalog. Then import it on the other computer.

          Personally, I LOVE the file corrections workflow in LR, but am not so thrilled with doing metadata through it. I wish we could just select a folder and "develop" away, but I spend a lot of time importing folders just to delete them from the catalog again as soon as I've done my corrections.

          Anyway, my 3.82 cents worth.

          • 2. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
            Lee Jay-7OQGJF Level 4
            > The most restrictive way possible. Huh? For professionaly use?

            The flip-side is having to deal with all those that corrupted their catalogs by accessing the same one from two machines at the same time, and the resulting out-cry from users about "how stupid it is that a *professional* program could allow that to happen".

            Damned if you do, damned if you don't. That is, unless you do it really right, which is not so trivial. It requires a multi-user database environment, and a service to be running on the server.
            • 3. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
              Casamagnolia-wSzxs8 Level 1
              Network server. You mean a disk that is not connected to a computer, right? We had one once but no longer operate it because of a problem with a particular computer and the disk company and the computer manufacturer pointed fingers at each other re the problem... Hence I haven't tried to put LR files on such a disk. I presume there is no problem for ONE person at a time to use LR by connecting to a shared disk that is connected to a computer. We share everything else that way. My computer is on all the time and shares music and video and photos. Since we watch videos from this disk, I presume it would be fast enough to watch a slide show or something from a remote LR. I just haven't done it. I might set it up though because my husband is getting tired of not being able to see our photos as adjusted by me in LR unless I export them for him or make a photo gallery or something.

              I understand a network drive is faster, which is why we had one once. Plus you don't have to keep a computer running to operate it.

              • 4. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                Lee Jay-7OQGJF Level 4
                You can't put a catalog on a network share.
                Network drives are almost never faster than local drives.
                • 5. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                  Level 1
                  Hi Judith,

                  What you presume makes wonderful sense, too bad for most of us that it isn't reality.

                  I had a cheap version (under $100) of Canto Cumulus that had no problems sharing a catalog on a network drive (allowed one user at a time, which was fine for me). It was fast, too! It amazes me that Adobe, with all its resources, can't approximate what Cumulus did so well so long ago.

                  I bought a Lightroom license, but I'm not thrilled and so I will not evangelize.

                  • 6. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                    Casamagnolia-wSzxs8 Level 1
                    Network drives are faster for network access. We are talking about multiple computers accessing information.

                    I just talked to my electrical engineer husband and it is confusing. The rating of a connection, like usb2 or firewire, isn't what you will actually get, so it gets complicated a bit. Network drives are not slowed down by your computer, so technically they might be able to do more. Anyone who wants to do this should look into it.

                    Data centers use network drives.
                    • 7. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                      Level 1
                      I'm new to LR and am looking forward to using it to manage my photo files on a G5 Mac. I also use a MacBook Pro and often download images to it when traveling. I move them to my G5 when I get home. So the question is this: Is there a best approach when using my MacBook in the field?

                      I would like to be able to copy my images onto the MacBook and do some basic editing and sorting in LR. Then, copy the folder back to my G5 mothership when I return home. If I do, will the adjustments made in LR on the MacBook survive the transfer?

                      Networking would be great, but I can probably work within the present constraints once I get beyond square one.


                      Rich H.
                      • 8. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                        UBPhoto Level 1
                        Since the ability to access a catalog from more than one computer is an essential feature, hopefully they will fix the system sometime soon. Professionals rarely work from one computer. Just between my wife and me we need to access the same catalog from four different computers (2 laptops and 2 desktops), which is impossible to do under Lightroom's current design. So we basically ignore Lightroom's 'library' functionality, and use other programs for sorting and previewing. and use multiple small catalogs that we move back and forth between the network share to do editing.

                        I have been given some really bad advice in this forum about solving the 'shared catalog' issue, none of which even come close to being practical, the worse being "turn on XMP and import your photos every time that you start Lightroom again and everything will be fine." There is no real practical way to share a catalog between computers and maintain your sanity.

                        The solution is for Adobe to fix Lightroom to it can actually be used in a professional environment. But it is still early in the cycle... remember that we are actually still on version 1.0, since the original V1.0 was the real beta version (making 1.1 the real V1.0) and aside from camera support, little changed between 1.1 and 1.2.
                        Hopefully V1.5 or so will make Lightrooom a real professional tool, instead of a stand alone tool for photographers that never have to work with others.
                        • 9. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                          Level 1
                          figured out a way to use a network storage for lightroom catalog... basically map a drive that will be the network drive that you will use to get arond the network limitation.. in my case I mapped my location with pictures and lightroom catalog to t:\ then with a dos command prompt type: subst p: t:\
                          that will map the p: drive to t: drive in a way that tricks lightroom into thinking its a local drive.. then load catalog from p: and your all set
                          • 10. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                            R Neil Haugen Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                            Bill ...

                            I'll have to give that a try, thanks for the tip. If that could work it could save a fair amount of time moving entire shooting folders of weddings and such around the system, the ol' there-and-back-again trick. Maybe sort of.

                            • 11. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                              Level 1
                              Just following up on your posting about your suggested workaround to the network limitations of LR. I was just wondering if you have had experienced any problems or issues with the setup.

                              • 12. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                R Neil Haugen Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                                To: Bill

                                thanks for the tip on substitutiary locomotion for LR using a catalog across a network (obscure kid's movie reference there!). I tried it, and it works. On WinXP, that is.

                                For everyone viewing this, the process is as follows:

                                You have an LR catalog on another computer in your local network, that you want to access from your computer.

                                In Window's Explorer on your computer, "map" the network drive (on the other computer) that holds the folder with the catalog, or perhaps even specifically that folder, to a virtual or single-letter drive on your computer, say "x". (And note, the quotes I place around things are there by me to delineate exactly what you type, do not type them in yourself. Only type what is BETWEEN the quotation marks.)

                                Then access the command-line (DOS level) editor on your computer through the menu system, "Start | Programs | Accesories | Command Prompt".

                                Type "cd\c:\"

                                (The above step may not be needed, but I was taught to make my commands from a main-drive location, not a subfolder. Back to the little routine.)

                                At the prompt, "c:\ ",
                                type "subst p: x:\"
                                where "p" stands for any free local drive letter on your computer, and "x" is the local drive letter you mapped the other computer's LR catalog drive or folder to. NOTE THE CLEAR SPACE BETWEEN P: AND X.

                                Now, open LR on your computer, tell it you want to open a new catalog, and choose the drive-letter that you typed where I use "p" as the drive to find it on, navigate to the folder that has the ".Ircat" folder on it, select it, click on "open".

                                If you get a message that it cannot access files across a network, simply click on the drop-down box to the right titled "choose" and select the folder-path on the "p" drive and it will now load.

                                It takes half the time to do this that it does to read it!

                                I tested this by exporting a small folder as a catalog, copying that folder to another machine, doing the mapping\substitutiary routine above, and accessing it (only from one computer at a time) sequentially from both computers, changing a couple things each time, without saving back to the XMP either manually or automatically.

                                After doing several changes I then closed the catalog without saving either manually or automatically to xmp. All changes were there immediately on opening the catalog with the other computer. Virtual copies, exposure changes, ratings, labels, keywords ... all saved from both computers to a local drive on the one computer, and readable and useable from the other computer.

                                You do need to keep from using both at the same time, like duh, but then, we've managed to use file-sharing across our network here for several years with up to 5 people accessing files without both being on the same file at the same time in ANY program, CS, word processing, whatever.

                                Of course, anything one EVER does it always at your own risk.

                                • 13. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                  Level 1
                                  Hi Bill

                                  I have all my photos on a partition called "W". Are you saying run a dos comand on the second pc "subst p: w:\" and it will appear in explorer as the P drive? do you just run this once or everytime you reboot the pc? Does it work on windows or Mac? Tks
                                  • 14. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                    Level 1
                                    I have tried this, but the folder appears as a disconnected network drive on the 2nd PC (you can actually access the fiels no problem). Properties say it is a Network drive and when I try to launch the catalogue I get a runtime error. I tried using the same subst command on a folder on the hard drive of the pc and that works fine as the properties say it is a loal drive. I'm using a Vista pc so maybe it only works on XP? If you go to your virtualrive and check properties does it say local or network drive please?
                                    • 15. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                      Level 1
                                      Can't wait to try this with my laptop...it's screen is no good for critical image processing. But it is just fine for initial sorting/renaming/filing/proofing etc...Ah to be able to do some of my work with out having to be tied to my office!!!
                                      • 16. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                        Level 1
                                        first of all i want to thank you Bill for the very useful and efficient tip using Lightroom catalog on a network.
                                        For additional automation i wrote a 1 line batch file (xxx.bat) containing the "substitution" command by the MS editor and put it in the "Autostart" folder. With that the virtual drive e.g. "P" appears at every computer start so that Lightroom is ready to use it immediately.
                                        Mike, to answer your letter, what you are repeating is right (very easy) and you have to do it at every reboot (or with the batch file above). Windows Explorer and properties as well show the virtual drive as a "not connected network drive". But that doesn't matter; Lightroom works anyway. Have fun. Hans-Peter
                                        • 17. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                          Level 1
                                          Hi Hans,

                                          No it doesn't work I'm afraid but maybe that is Vista. I create the subst drive and that seems ot work fine, but LR stil lsees it as anetwork drive. Can you tell me if you go to the properties of your subst drive does your pc think it is a local drive or a network drive? Are you using Vista? tks Mike
                                          • 18. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                            UBPhoto Level 1
                                            Just keep in mind that LR uses a database that isn't really intended to be used on a network, as per the database designer's own words. You are really playing with fire, because your database on the network becomes very easily corruptible. Any interruption in data flow can result in a damaged database.

                                            If you are going to do this, make sure that you set the 'make backup' to everytime you open the database, and keep the backup local.
                                            • 19. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                              Level 1
                                              Hi Mike,
                                              when i go to properties at the subsitution drive it shows me: "Not connected network drive" and i am using Windows XP. Good luck HP
                                              • 20. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                                Level 1
                                                I cn't do the subst thing. I get path not found!
                                                • 21. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                                  Level 1
                                                  HI Hans
                                                  could you post the batch file you wrote. it would help me alot at start up. thanks.
                                                  • 22. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                                    Level 1
                                                    Hello I have developed a bat file that will create the virtual drive and run LR auto.

                                                    First create a network drive (In my case I used X:\)

                                                    Then open note pad and write this code:

                                                    @echo off
                                                    IF EXIST P:\ GOTO LR
                                                    net start
                                                    net use x: "\\MyNetwork\digital photos"
                                                    subst p: x:\
                                                    Start "" "C:\Programas\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.4\lightroom.exe"


                                                    (Change "\\MyNetwork\digital photos" to the path to your network drive with the catalog that you ar targeting, I fund useful to put the catalog in the same folder that the photos

                                                    for exemple
                                                    c:\digital photos\LRcatalog\
                                                    c:\digital photos\MyPhotos1\
                                                    c:\digital photos\MyPhotos2\


                                                    (Change "C:\Programas\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.4\lightroom.exe" to the path to LR exe)

                                                    Save it whit the name "virtualLR.bat"

                                                    Now just run "virtualLR.bat" and you will have acess to the catalogs in the network, you can replace the target form the shortcut of LR to target the new file "virtualLR.bat"

                                                    Hope it was clear and useful

                                                    • 23. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                                      Level 1
                                                      But still not recommended by Adobe. USe at your own risk. Don't say you were not warned!

                                                      No guarantees that the Network, even fooled by this, will nto mess up your Catalog, merely because it is on a Network.

                                                      Dan Tull ADobe Catalog Expert has this to say on the subject:


                                                      >FWIW, I did actually add a switch (briefly) to allow support of a catalog file on a network share (basically just lifting the block on it) and managed to corrupt the catalog beyond repair (and if you Google around for my name, you'll find I know a few things about repairing catalogs) when testing it under stress conditions. SQLite is fundamentally dependent on sound file locking guarantees to ensure data integrity and network file shares don't cut it.

                                                      >So, while it would be (was) be easy to "just allow it" for power users, I'd basically be committing myself to spending all my time helping people whose catalogs were damaged when their network hiccuped at the wrong moment.

                                                      >Which unfortunately means a robust catalog on a network share feature is much harder and more risky than it seems on the surface without even getting into the multiple simultaneous users aspect.

                                                      >Dan Tull
                                                      Lightroom QE
                                                      Adobe Systems

                                                      Don Ricklin, MacBook 2Ghz Duo 2 Core running 10.5.1 & Win XP, Pentax *ist D
                                                      See LR Links list at http://donricklin.blogspot.com for related sites.
                                                      • 24. Re: Lightroom catalog together with network
                                                        Level 1
                                                        Why not just switch to a database that works on a network?

                                                        Also, why is everyone mapping a network folder to a drive and then substing the drive? You can subst the network folder directly:
                                                        SUBST P: \\OtherMachine\photos