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Large Lightroom Catalogs

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Jeff Harmon tells photographers (in very technical detail) if they should plan to split their Lightroom catalog after putting a large number of photos in there.

WARNING: Content ahead is super geeky.  Today’s topic comes from the Facebook group where CA Eccles asked: Hey Jeff! I read on the adobe forum that lightroom struggles when catalogues exceed x number of images. I re-listened to a podcast where Nick Page said he had over 750k images in Lightroom. Maybe I misheard, but was wondering what are the limits (if any). And is this where exporting as catalogs comes in handy? Looking forward to more awesomeness in 2016!  Include catalog corruption!

  • Database behind Lr is something called SQLite.  Got its start back in 2000. Not just used by Lr, preferred by a lot of applications for two big reasons: free, doesn’t require a server or a client, cross platform.  
    • Android, iOS, Mac, Windows10
    • Firefox, Chrome, and Safari web browser
    • Skype, iTunes, Dropbox
    • Most television sets and set-top cable boxes
    • Most automotive multimedia systems
    • Countless millions of other applications
  • Lr started in 2006, with version 1 in early 2007.  Seems likely to me that there were actual issues with catalogs that had a large numbers of images in them.
  • Not a problem today.  
    • There are limitations: tables of 18,446,744,073,709,600,000 quintillion rows, not possible to hit it, 140TB.
    • Did testing.  As of this podcast episode in March 2016, my one catalog has 58,958 images in it and 2.7GB (0.09%).  Exported catalog, no real difference. Used SQLiteSpy, not real difference
  • How does Lr use a database?
    • metadata from camera
    • keywords
  • What can you do to make things snappier?
    • Put catalog on fast disk
    • Backup database.  Going to analyze and vacuum.  Also, clean up the backups – 23 backups dating back to almost a year ago (about 40GB).  Remember backups are on the same drive, maybe a good idea to copy the .lrcat file to another drive after every backup is made.
  • Corrupted DB?
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