A while back I was following this method for Lightroom http://ericscouten.com/blog/2012/03/05/lightroom-technique-how-i-organize-my-catalog-and-why-2012-edition

It does advocate creating folders on the disk file system and I spent a fair amount of time doing that. Also this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NsE457Iq-c is using folders on disk.

However, a lot since, I have just been importing my images and then just applying metadata and organising into collections, because it is faster. What is the need for the folders on disk?

I want to be able to archive those photos that aren't for public display and maybe these should be physically moved out into another folder (and maybe out of the catalogue?)

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A small point is that Windows typically struggles with large directories, so you should not throw all your pictures into one directory. Having 50000 pictures in one dir could take minutes for each access. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have been letting Lightroom import with the date folder structure. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2016 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


Interestingly, I also found the same blog when starting out with Lightroom. There are many ways to get images organized and I found have a file-system structure is very helpful.

First is that the filesystem structure is accessible without Lightroom to every other program. You can use it to quickly located images without having to load Lightroom and wait for it to get its catalog open. Any operating system tool to search the file-system understands folders, so you have more flexibility by just having some hierarchy.

Even though disks are getting faster, having very large folders slows the operating system down. Even Lightroom is not as fast when accessing huge folders if you are in the File System view.

Thirdly, a neat hierarchy facilitates making backups. Dividing images into branches which fit on your choice of backup medium is extremely easy, particularly when you consider that Lightroom is totally non-destructive. For example, to do backups on Blu-Ray disks, I load folders with at most 24GB and back up completed ones on write-once media and the incomplete one onto rewritable disks, until it becomes full and I create another branch. Then, the completed one gets burned permanently and the new branch gets rewritten each month. Since Lightroom is non-destructive, you know that you never need to update completed branches and you can make them read-only to ensure that.


Just think of the future when Lightroom may not exist anymore : your collections would be useless. Whereas your folders will still exist. And you may need them to import your collections in the next trendy software.

Moreover, if you want to upload your pictures, you will use the regular files manager and it will be more efficient to have properly named folders.

My general advice is never rely on one single software or technology to get things done : it evolves too fast, you never know when it will get outdated or when its editor will close. By using system-level tools, you stay relatively safe and ready for the future.

  • \$\begingroup\$ some good points there, although collections can be exported to folders easily. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2016 at 7:49

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