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Using Lightroom on Two Computers

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  1. Andreas says:

    Thank you, this is a useful video.
    I have a third option, though, which you only mention in passing. You say you are using sugarsync to keep your desktop and laptop syncronized. A more general way of doing this would of course be to store everything in the cloud using, for example, dropbox. Many people (including myself) will not want to actually use dropbox for privacy issues.
    What i found as an alternative is a tool called AeroFS (google it) that basically allows you to set up your own “cloud”. The way it works is that you register the computers you are using, and they are all always syncronized without going through a cloud. According to the makers of AeroFS the data is never anywhere other than on your own computers. I run software that uses large libraries like that, and it works nicely (have not tried LR, but i am sure it would work fine as well). Another advantage, in addition to the privacy issue, is that you have no diskspace limitation, and it is free. You hook up as many external drives as you need, you backup wherever you want and however you want, and your computers are always syncronized. The only downside seems to be that you need a pc that is always running and accessible via the internet (no fixed IP required,though).


  2. Phil Steele says:

    Andres, sounds interesting, if you try that with LR, let me know if it works. I initially tried syncing LR catalogs with Sugarsync but the large open files are always trying to sync and it caused trouble. So now I just use sugarsync on my photos, but I manage the LR catalog files by hand.

  3. Rob Wing says:


    Thank you for this video. I found it very interesting and helpful. But, after reading Andreas’ post, I think I might be interested in exploring that route, especially if my files are always synced without actually leaving my computers. This really sounds like something I could use to manage all files and not just my photos. I’m really curious to know about the security, though. That in itself would be a make or break for me. Let’s see if Andreas tries it and lets us know how things go.


  4. Andreas says:

    Rob and Phil,

    I will test it early next week and let you know how it does with LR. I remembered one thing that is missing from AeroFS that some people might want – it does not yet (they appear to be working on that) come with a client for iOS or Android, so accessing files from tablets or phones is only possible through FTP. For me this is not an issue, but it might be for some.

    Rob, this is exactly what I do. I sync all the relevant data I need for work (not photography) across three or four computers using Aero, and this works flawlessly, including sharing specific folders with collaborators.
    AeroFS have a section about security and privacy on their site, and to me it sounds good. Everything that is transferred is encrypted, and the servers pretty much only serve as managers. I believe the risk that remains is what you have with any computer that is hooked up to the web.


  5. Andreas says:

    I did a quick test using LR5 just now. It looks like it works – in the end this is not all that surprising since the data is stored locally (just like in Dropbox) such that for LR it should not make a difference.
    Without doing a systematic testing I checked if it is possible to access the LR catalogue from two different computers sequentially (trivial, this works) and simultaneously (LR5 test version, so completely legal 😉 ). Interestingly, the latter also works – this surprised me since I assumed that the lock-file should prevent a second instance of LR to access the same cat-file. Since this works one has to make sure to always quit LR before starting it on another pc, otherwise I am sure there will be chaos.
    The rest works as expected – you make changes on one computer and the next time you start it on another one all the changes are there. Just make sure you give the system enough time to transfer all the relevant files. In particular when starting up a computer one has to be a bit patient because AeroFS takes a couple of minutes before it starts transferring data. But this may be an issue with my computer and the order in which different daemons are fired up.

    I hope this helps, and I am interested in hearing about your experiences with this. It looks like a promising way to do it, but nevertheless I suggest you start with a small test catalogue before getting serious. I don’t think there is a risk of data loss, but a corrupt catalogue is also no fun!


  6. Jeff says:

    Another way to use DropBox is with TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt will let you create a virtual, encrypted hard drive where you can store your LR catalog and previews. Once you finish with LR, you dismount the TrueCrypt drive and DropBox kicks in and transfers the updated file to its server, until the next time you use your laptop. This has the added benefit of keeping an encrypted backup of your catalog in the cloud.

    While I have never tried this with LightRoom, I use this method for Quicken. A little research found that some users experienced data corruption of their Quicken data files using DropBox. This method prevents that and I see no reason it would not work as well with LightRoom. It is similar to your first method of using an external drive, without the hardware.

  7. Peter Moeller says:

    I use Corel AfterShot Pro (formerly Bibble) and the easy to use it on several computers is one reasons. With AfterShot you don’t have the one large library, but all images get a “sidecar” file. Much easier to backup and transfer between computers.

    For me it doesn’t matter that LR is industry standard, AfterShot does everything I need.

  8. Anton Rehrl says:


    I figured out how to have a single catalog on multiple machines with the photos shared on a NAS on my network.

    Ive been using it for a couple of months without problems and it syncs up really quickly. It can even keep the different machines in sync if they are in different locations just over the internet.

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