I have nearly 15 years of digital photos scattered about that come close to 200GB. I bought Aperture last year, but have only now decided to tackle consolidating all these photos.

I think I know how I want to import/name photos. However, I am struggling with the decision of either 1) creating a single Aperture library and importing everything there, or 2) Creating multiple libs (probably one per year from 1999 on...). I would love to only have one library to deal with, but am concerned with anecdotal evidence of corruption in Aperture libs. One lib per year would definitely spread the risk of corruption, but at the cost of additional complexity, and the inability to search across all photos.

FWIW, I think I would prefer to stre all my images in the library itself, versus using referenced masters.

I would GREATLY appreciate any insight.


The great thing about non-destructive photo editors such as Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom is that they do not make changes to the original photos.

You are concerned about the corruption of the Aperture Library. The library contains references to the original photos which it calls masters. It also contains other data such as additional files derived from masters(versions), projects, albums, folders, vaults, etc. But still you have to remember that your original files should be untouched.

You can read in forum after forum examples of people having XXXGB of data comprised of XXX,XXX number of photos and their library corrupted. Giving more examples of that here isn't going to do much but provide one users experience which is not likely representative of the entire user base at all. Apple has before noted that a single Library should be able to support 1,000,000 images. I wouldn't recommend that, but 1TB of data and 100,000 images should be just fine. You have somewhere around 25% of that, and wouldn't typically be a concern to me.

I would recommend just building a single library unless you have some significant distinction that would make sense to split the data up. Examples would be a "work" library and a "personal" library or similar. Other than that, don't worry about 1 or 2 anecdotal examples of issues, and just build a single library with your photos, because remember - your master/original files will not be harmed even if your library is corrupted.

One way to help yourself cope with any library corruption, would be to keep monthly(or so) backups of your library. Then if it does get corrupted, simply roll back and you only lose library changes back to the last backup(but not any originals). This is what I do and it works very well.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for the thoughtful response - makes sense. Just to clarify - are we talking managed or referenced images? ... and I assume when you talk backups, you are speaking of using Aperture Vault backups, correct? – wchrisjohnson Oct 16 '13 at 0:00
  • Yes, Aperture Vaults is what you can use to backup the library, see: documentation.apple.com/en/aperture/usermanual/… – dpollitt Oct 16 '13 at 0:08
  • Yes, referenced images. I would never use Aperture in the Managed image mode, you lose all of the benefits I noted above :) – dpollitt Oct 16 '13 at 0:10
  • I will probably go the referenced image route, but one aspect of the managed images approach that I really like is that the Vault Backup would contain everything - images and all the version data. With the referenced images approach, I need to be concerned with backing up the aperture library as well as all of my referenced images. – wchrisjohnson Oct 16 '13 at 0:19

You can address the possible corruption process by saving backups of the library, but really, the main issue you will encounter with one super huge catalog is performance. When there is more data to search through, it takes longer to search, but it also allows you to search through more images.

The advantage of smaller projects is that they are fast, but also can't search other projects.

The hybrid approach that I use is to group photos categorically in to projects for my own work (I use Lightroom rather than Aperture, but the principal is the same.) This way, my first level of searching is choosing the category the photo is in and then I can search within that smaller project for the exact images I'm looking for.

For my commercial work, I simply do one library per project because I don't have a lot of need to search across individual commercial projects.

| improve this answer | |

I am using Aperture for all my images in Managed mode. I do have several libraries, one big archive library on my NAS and the current images on the default (around 100G of images) library on the local SSD. I regularly merge the new images from the default lib into the archive, after that I can also freely delete images in the default lib because I still have the archive copy, complete with all edits and versions of the image.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.