How can I tell Lightroom to store masters on the cloud and keep previews on desktop?

My library is too big with almost 400 GB full of raw files and stacks going for years. I am running out of Disk space. and management is painful.

In the old happy days of Aperture, it had a process that allows us store masters on an external drive and keep previews only on Desktop. I wonder if there is a similar process in Lightroom.

I want to use the following setup: - Use Amazon Cloud drive to store the 400GB Photo library on the cloud. - Tell lightroom to store smart previews only on the desktop in which I can edit. - Tell lightroom to download raw only when When needed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How fast is your internet download speed? How big is your average raw file? I'm pretty sure raw files in the cloud would be impractically slow at typical DSL or cable internet connection speeds. \$\endgroup\$
    – alx9r
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have 100 MB/s Internet connection and average raw is 35 MB. Sill I agree it will not be practical if I plan to operate the library when it is online. Thats why I am looking for another way (similar to Aperture) where I can create small editable version on desktop. And only download the raw when needed \$\endgroup\$
    – Amr Farouk
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question might help you. \$\endgroup\$
    – alx9r
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


Yes, Lightroom has a similar feature to Aperture's that could let you do what you want--assuming you actually have the bandwidth and patience to transfer half a gig of files to your cloud drive.

The feature is called Smart Previews. It was a feature designed both for using Lightroom on tablets, as well as for being able to work on images on an external hard drive while the drive is disconnected. Lower-resolution (but still high enough to work with for processing purposes) previews of each RAW file are created, and stored in the database (i.e., catalog), and are still accessible even when the master RAW files are offline. Because of how non-destructive editing works, you can still make adjustments to the images and store them. And once you're reconnected to the main files, those instructions can be applied upon export.

I'm not that familiar with how the Amazon cloud drive features work, but if you can get the cloud drive to mount to the desktop and behave like a regular external drive, then chances are good that all you'd have to do to move everything is to drag/move the files from Lightroom's Library module to your cloud drive.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @AmrFarouk You're welcome! Since we're SE, not a messageboard, though, upvoting and/or accepting work better as thanks. If you plan to stick around, maybe read the SE Tour. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 23:31

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