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Are there any settings in Lightroom that help make the experience working with files stored on a NAS (and accessed over WiFi) any better?


I know that the bottleneck is the speed of WiFi between the laptop and the NAS and that this is not Lightroom's fault. However I've looked at physical solutions and none of them are that great:

  1. Use a network cable (which is inconvenient)
  2. Use my laptop SSD instead (which is too small)
  3. Use an external USB drive (which misses out on the automatic redundancy and offsite backup that my NAS does)

Given that I don't want to do any of the above, I wondered if there was anything clever in Lightroom that could minimise the impact of working from a NAS?

  • 3
    An old joke by Vaudeville team Smith and Dale goes "PATIENT: Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "DOCTOR: Don't do that." I am reminded of that somehow... =) – scottbb Aug 11 '17 at 9:15
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    There is a limit to what any software can do in speeding up data transfer! The most effective method would be to load from you SSD as this provides the quickest data transfer. Next would be the USB drive and the slowest transfer would be via the wifi network connection. My recommendation would be to use the USB and then copy from the USB to the NAS once you've done editing so you have your backup! – MiguelH Aug 11 '17 at 10:08
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    @MiguelH Totally understand that software isn't going to speed up data transfer. However there are software techniques (such as local caching or background pre-loading) which can make the user experience much better. A good example of this are decent image viewers which tend to load the next image whilst you're looking at the current image - that way, when you flip to the next image, it looks like it loaded instantly. – Richard Aug 11 '17 at 12:38
  • I often feel like lightroom does a very poor job of caching (or working on the network in general - it refuses to store it's catalogues on the network to my knowledge). – Joren Vaes Aug 11 '17 at 14:22
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    @Richard: Moving between photos in library mode uses the preview cache, it (normally) is with the catalog and so should not be on the NAS. Moving between photos in develop mode (when not using smart previews) has is generally processor intensive and/or uses the ACR cache. Making the ACR cache larger can help if you are moving back and forth between the same shots. Moving to new shots is almost entirely processor intensive (for raw images) not usually disk, so it probably is not the NAS. You can test by putting some shots on a local drive and testing those vs. NAS (just drag and drop). – Linwood Aug 29 '17 at 17:49
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The technique I use is:

  • I keep "fresh" photos on laptop (with automatic daily backup). This is the period when I do most editing.
  • I move "stale" photos to NAS (it is important you do the move inside Lightroom)
  • since I do a lot of work in RAW I make sure to create smart previews - they stay local and function as a cache, limiting network traffic to editing operations, not image previewing and sorting.
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  • While I understand this as a sollution, for me it is more like a patch-work. When I go on a trip I have tens if not hundreds of gigabytes of images, and always keeping a local copy is just not possible. Additionally, keeping local versions is very inconvenient in my opinion, and it always leads to issues with versions. – Joren Vaes Aug 11 '17 at 14:21
  • Two comments: 1) it is normal to start with hundreds of gigabytes, but it is also usual to cull your photos drastically. 2) keeping smart previews is different from keeping full local versions. Smart previews are Lightroom specific low(ish) resolution compressed copies, significantly smaller than original RAW files. – Jindra Lacko Aug 11 '17 at 14:28
  • If I were facing this, I would write a script which copied one image from the NAS to my local drive, invoked the editing process and, at the end, offered to write the edited image back to the NAS. That way all editing file i/o is local, but the master copy is always on the NAS. I wouldn't make the copy back automatic as a mistake in editing would always affect the master. Things like this are very easy to do in bash on Linux, so I assume that the same can be done using PowerShell. – Joe Aug 16 '17 at 9:21

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