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I recently purchased a 256gb Samsung Evo 850 SSD and, even after doing quite a bit of Googling and searching on this forum, can't figure out how exactly I should setup my lightroom for best results.

Here's my PC: http://pcpartpicker.com/b/gKWXsY

Current setup:

  • Lightroom (6.6), along with my OS and other programs (Win 10,) is installed on the SSD.
  • Catalog, previews, backups are on the 2TB HDD
  • Cache is stored on the 2TB HDD
  • I have 156gb free on my SSD right now

Question: How would you best manage lightroom and its files to achieve the best results with similar hardware?

Should I keep the catalog and previews on the SSD and limit the size so that it doesn't take up way too much space (currently my 1:1 previews are only taking up 10gb on the HDD)?

Should I change the cache storage to the SSD? How large should my cache be?

If I did some/all of the above, would the change be noticeable (not measurable) in any way?

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    Probably better fit for superuser. superuser.com/questions/409794/speeding-up-lightroom
    – MikeW
    Jun 22 '16 at 4:22
  • Well, now someone is going to complain you double-posted...
    – user31502
    Jun 23 '16 at 1:24
  • Yup! That thread is currently frozen, so I'll try my luck here first. :)
    – Aquinox
    Jun 23 '16 at 4:12
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Your machine is pretty adequate in terms of processing power (unless you shoot in medium format). 8Gb of RAM should also be quite enough if you don't run another heavy app in parallel.

Depending on the size of your catalog you may or may not notice a big difference when moving around catalog and cache. But, since Lightroom catalog is comprised of lots of small files and folders (in total about twice as there are images), there can be a noticeable improvement using SSD. This is due to faster file system access coming from less latency and no fragmentation effect which might be there for HDD.

Anyway, I just did a test of having a catalog of about 40K items located on HDD versus SSD. The images themselves are on another drive so their location is not a factor.

While having the catalog and cache on HDD (RAID1 of 2x7200rpm), ready time of Lightroom (when all of the imported folders display their number of items) is about 3 minutes. This is on cold start. When restarting Lightroom, it is ready almost instantly which is an effect of available RAM.

When the catalog and cache are on SSD, the cold start time is maybe 2 seconds.

So, placing your catalog and cache on the SSD would be the best way to improve cold start performance. Since your previews only take 10Gb, I'd say it is not critical to limit the cache storage size yet.

The effect of limiting the cache size is that the least recently accessed items get deleted when newly accessed items needs to be cached. That's fine if you mostly look at the same or new images, but if you browse more randomly, limited cache will not do much for improving the performance.

Tangentially, having more RAM would make it easier to browse back and forth while having more processing power would make it (slightly) faster to import new images and do the processing.

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  • Cache limit is set to 30gb. I don't want to have to worry about it later. Btw, what is the relationship between cache storage limit (preference setting in lightroom) and the limit set on the previews folder? AFAIK the previews folder is kept alongside the catalog be default, while the cache location (mine at least) is set by default to a temp. location on my boot drive (SSD). My catalog is only about 150mb. So moving it, along with the previews to the SSD would only help with the cold-start time? From your post, any bottle-neck that I would experience is coming from my CPU, correct?
    – Aquinox
    Jun 23 '16 at 4:27
  • Previews folders are per catalog while cache location is global for all catalogs. While there seem to be no setting to move cache folder in Lightroom, you can use a symbolic link to move it to another location. Since your catalog is rather small, moving it to SSD might not let a significant improvement. If you mostly do processing then yes, CPU and RAM are the most affecting factors.
    – Nic Nilov
    Jun 23 '16 at 9:40
  • Is there a way to limit the size of my preview folder, besides "Delete after x days"? I.e. is there a way to limit it based on size? If there is, I could safely move my catalog to my SSD without having to worry about my previews folder silently eating up my space.
    – Aquinox
    Jun 23 '16 at 14:20
  • There isn't such option in Lightroom afaik. There are ways to do that on OS level like having a dedicated partition (either native or container-based) for the cache. But, since the cache area is not pre-allocated to its maximum size and a partition is, that would be wasteful.
    – Nic Nilov
    Jun 23 '16 at 19:48

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