I have my photos on a network drive, about 30,000 photos in about 500 sub-directories. I would like to get access to these photos in Lightroom, so I added the photos directory as folder in Lightroom, but it took forever scanning through the photos, so this was not usable.

Is there a way to get direct access to many photos on a network drive?


Based on @CodyPace answer, I did some disk read speed testing.

The access time for doing MD5 checksum calculation of ~500 files (8 GB) is:

  • Local: 15 s
  • Network: 115 s

Thus ratio of ~7.7 .

The Lightroom directory import time for the same ~500 files (8 GB) is:

  • Local: 23 s
  • Network: 172 s

Thus ratio of ~7.5 .

So the difference in Lightroom import speed can be justified by the difference in disk read speed, and mentioned by @CodyPace... it just felt much slower ;-)

  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear: is the problem that your network speed is too slow, or that Lightroom seems extra slow when adding photos over the network? Working over a network is always slower than working locally. \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2016 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


If your photos are on a network drive then the speed you can access them is determined directly by the network.

All you can do is get a faster network speed, or keep the photos you want to work with on your local machine while you edit them. Then move them back when you are done.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The photos are in about 500 sub-directories; I have added that to the question. However, I omitted it in the first place, but it does not look like the issue, since indexing the photos in each sub-directory took pretty long. \$\endgroup\$
    – EquipDev
    May 27, 2016 at 13:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ What kind of network are you on? Are you home or at work \$\endgroup\$
    – Cody Pace
    May 27, 2016 at 14:07

You can try to speed things up with smart previews. They are essentially smaller compressed raw files, which LR can work with even if the original files are unavailable.

These files are significantly smaller than the original files, which could allow you to place them on a local drive, which has quicker access than a network drive. If you can get the smart previews on a local SSD, that could improve the performance.

Even having the smart previews on the network drive can be an improvement, because they are smaller and transfered more quickly.


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