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Changing Computers and Lightroom

Hindsight is 20/20. Last year, I upgraded the boat anchor that was the family computer. Not realizing I would be doing so much photography (for me, that is), I really didn't size things right. It was more about the budget. Now, I am thinking about an upgrade. The "new" computer is agonizingly slow at times when using LR: runs out of memory when converting a bunch of photos; I get "An unknown error has occurred" at different times; try to zoom in on something, at least 10-15 seconds to get there, if it does at all. I have to keep re-starting LR.

It's miserable by itself to change computers, but now I have Lightroom, and I'm a little worried.

If anyone has done this in the recent past, and can offer me any tips to orient LR with its infamous catalog, please chime in.

Thanks - Dave


  • rs_eosrs_eos Member
    It shouldn't be difficult, even if you left LR to using the default location.   In my case, I set up LR to put all data and settings such as presets on a secondary drive (I have four drives in my Mac Pro, so used one of my 'data' drives).  What this gives is a system with the LR application itself on the main drive and all data files in single location:


    Inside of Photos, is my Lightroom folder (which in turn holds the catalog, previews and settings).  Also in Photos is a 'Masters' folder which is what I called the root folder for all the original images.   I also have LR write out "xmp" metadata files, so those also live in the 'Masters' folder structure.

    When it comes time for the new computer, I will simply re-install the LR software on my internal drive and copy the 'Photos' folder to its new home.  For my case, I'm moving to a RAID array and so there's a chance that my volume (disk) name may be different.  But I believe one can go into LR and point it to the new data location where the catalog lives.  Then, set the preferences to point to the new presets location.  Of course if I name the RAID array the same as that one internal drive, things should all just work out-of-the box.

    Also (haven't tested this), but I think as long as you don't change the folder structure of that root folder, all should be well (you can move your catalog file anywhere as long as all referenced files are in the same locations relative to the catalog itself).

    Things get slightly trickier if you use LR's default settings.  Images will go under the 'Photos' or 'My Photos' folder of your home directory (depends if using OS X or Windows).  Also, you'd need to find where the default location is that stores your preferences and presets data.  Then copy both sets of that existing data into the same locations on your new computer.
  • Like rs_eos, I store the physical image files somewhere other than the default folder that LR wants to use.  As he said, you can edit the catalog settings to point to a new folder.  However, the new folder must have the same subfolder hierarchy as your original folder, so all the catalog's file hierarchy can remain the same.  Otherwise, you will have to edit each subfolder in LR and point it to the new folder.

    The key here is that you must use LR to move/delete/copy/re-align folders and files.  If you make changes in the computer filesystem first, LR gets confused.
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