Aperture: saving photos as library or vault?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by monsieurpaul, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009

    I’m switching form iPhoto to Aperture and I have a question regarding the best way to archive old photos.

    Right now, I have collected all my photos into one huge Aperture library. I want to extract the older photos (let’s say all photos until end of 2006) to archive them. The way I understand Aperture, I can’t create a vault from just a part of a library, but I can (and did) create another smaller library with just the photos I want to archive.

    For archiving, should I save this library as is, or create a vault from this library (and keep only the vault) ? Does it matter at all?


  2. adversus macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I archive into libraries. Once my library starts hitting 500gb or so I split it, usually by year. So I'll have:


    I don't use the vault functionality.
  3. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I use the vault as a backup to my current library.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think saving libraries by size or year for aperture keeps them (depending on shooting style) manageable.

    I have 4 years of pictures in one library. At that point I decided to split out by kids and events, then by year so I have a 2011 events folder and a 2012 twins library.

    Given that I'm running a laptop with an SSD this works very well as I don't have space on my computer for every picture.
  5. d.steve macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    There's no reason to take a vault of the library and then keep just the vault. You might as well just keep the library if you're only going to keep one copy.

    But you probably want to either save off the library and a copy of it for a second copy, or make a vault of it and keep both the library and the vault (separately). It's good to have separate backups, basically.

    You might consider removing thumbnails from the library to save space. Since the intent is to archive these images, you probably don't need them.

    As far as image management in general...

    FWIW, I used to have one managed library with one project per year and two vaults, for about 11 years of images. I didn't like having one library per year because I like to have older pictures more easily accessible.

    When I decided to put the library on an SSD, I had no choice but to change this since that would get awfully expensive.

    Since all of my photos are rated as part of my workflow, I moved all images two stars or less to referenced images on less expensive media. All new images continue to be imported as managed files on SSD, and to reclaim space, all I need to do is occasionally move off lower-rated images, as needed.

    So, now all of my most recent images and my top images, regardless of when they were taken, are on SSD, and the rest is accessible but offloaded.

    Seems to work pretty well for me.

  6. adversus macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I also use a rating system.

    When I download my images and start The Culling(TM), I use the following Star ratings:

    0 - Trash, will be removed after The Culling(TM) is over
    1 - Keep for reference, will never edit release
    2 - Keep for reference, better than 1, but not editable
    3 - Keep for editing
    4 - Editing done, not released
    5 - Editing done, to release

    "Released" to me means posted online somewhere (my online portfolio, flickr, etc.).
  7. rebby, Feb 15, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012

    rebby macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2008
    I just made a change similar to what Steve described above in the past few weeks.

    Historically, I had a quite a few libraries. One for long term storage (archival), one for in-active projects, one for active projects, one for videos (low volume, high storage requirements), and a few small ones that I'd use for specific projects and/or moving data back and forth from my MBA. Just like Steve, my biggest reason for multiple libraries centered around storage requirements and my desire to keep as much as possible on either my SSD or, at a minimum, on a local disk. I've discussed this Library layout a few times so, if you're interested in more details, just perform a search and you're very likely find it. Alternatively, check out this blog entry on my website.

    A few weeks back I made a number of changes to several of my Smart Albums and was looking for an easy way to sync these changes between my multiple libraries. Most of these were library wide Smart Albums so a simple export/import wasn't really an option. Anyway, when I was unable to find anything (yet again), I decided that doing a full Library sync using a hybrid of Managed and Referenced files was the way to go. Another perk to this solution was that I would no longer have issues with image sync to my iPad/iPhone depending on what Aperture Library I had open.

    Right now, my primary work system is a Macbook Pro with a 256GB SSD and an internal 7200rpm HDD (optibay). Wanting as many photos as possible on my local system, I came up with the following arrangement;
    • My main Library "file" is kept on my SSD.
    • All new photos are imported as Managed files.
    • Relevant active Project masters are kept as Managed files for the duration of work.
    • Inactive Project masters are moved to Referenced files kept on my internal HDD.
    • Old inactive masters (currently anything older than 5 years) are kept externally (disk images stored on my NAS).
    • Referenced masters are all stored in a single folder (on each media obviously). Exported subfolder format is "Image Year/Month/Day" and the Master filename is used as the Name Format. This keeps my Referenced masters organized nicely with little effort on my part. Additionally, by importing everything as Managed to start with, then going through this relocation later, my Referenced files maintain the same organization structure throughout.
    In addition, I have a few more Smart Albums to help me keep this all organized.
    • All Managed - Used to get a quick look at any Managed files.
    • All Referenced - Ditto for Referenced files.
    • All Online Referenced - Ditto for online Referenced files
    • All Offline Referenced - Ditto for offline Referenced files.
    • All Managed over 6 months old - These are files that (very likely) should be Referenced. Doing a "Command-A, File -> Relocate Masters" on this album provides for a quick Managed -> Referenced workflow.
    • All online Referenced over 5 years old - Assuming that none of my NAS volumes are mounted, these are masters that should be moved to long term storage. Like my 6 month SA, performing this work is pretty straight forward. First, select all of these images ("Command-A" like above). Then mount the NAS volume and return to Aperture. If you look closely, you'll see a bunch of new files in this SA. This isn't a problem however since you've already made your selection. At this point just do "File -> Relocate Masters" to put the selected files on your NAS. If you select a few masters that are already on this volume (or even all of them) it's not a problem. Aperture handles it just fine and leaves them in place as you'd expect. I don't generally do this however since there is no point in relocating something that is already where you want it to be (unless, of course, you want to change the organization structure and/or name).
    When it comes to Vaults, I keep at least 2 at all times. My first vault is what I call my "Local Vault". Just like it sounds, it's stored local to my laptop (on my HDD, my library is stored on my SSD). This allows me to keep a backup of my Library in case of corruption or drive failure at all times. I also have keep an "Airport Vault". Like the name implies, this lives on a USB drive that is shared via disk sharing on my Airport. I also keep a vault on my NAS but this one does not get updated nearly as often.

    Additionally, when migrating to Referenced masters, you need to keep these backed up separately. I do this in a multitude of ways. First, I've always got Time Machine running which is a great/easy solution for my local files (including the Library and local Vault). Second, I have an rsync script that performs a backup of all files on my laptop to my NAS every hour (obviously only when I'm connected to my local LAN, this script is also configured to skip the backup when on battery power). The files on the NAS (including the referenced files stored in my NAS volumes) are then copied, again via rsync, offsite to 2 discrete locations (both over 50 miles from my house and over 100 miles apart from one another). This backup occurs every 4 hours.

    Thus far, I've really enjoyed my hybrid Library and it's worked very well.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    When you move a photo to a library it is not physically moved. It only changes a tag in a database. If yu export a library then it searches a database and copies the photos marked as being in the library to the export location. So libraries don't help with archiving they are just a way to keep related photos organized. Typically you'd mmake a new library for each project or each customer something like that.

    "Vaults" are real physical copies. When you create a valt the photo is actully copied. You can have as many vaults as you like. I suggest more than one. Then when you open an exiting vault the vault is updated (no re-created, only changes and new photos are copied.) Keep one vault at some remote location.

    Time Machine is another backup copy and I'd let that run too

    So you have many options. If you want to remove photos from Aperture do so a library at a time. Aperture allows yu to move as well as export a library.

    Think of as the smallest unit of self-consistant data that includes all your edits and tags and metadata.

    Think of vault only as a backup system. Vaults work like Time machine but only do the backup on demend, not automatically and unlike TM you can have many vaults
  9. peeaanuut macrumors 65816

    Sep 10, 2007
    Southern California
    i make a new library every quarter and then have one for a special side project thats taking many years. It make its more portable that way for me. Other than that, for archiving I have vaults and delete the main library. If I need to access them again which is few and far between I simply expand the vault and begin working then backup back into the vault and delete when finished.
  10. monsieurpaul thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    I tought that for managed library, the photos were located in the library folder? If not, how comes my library is 80 GB if it's just a database?
  11. rebby macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2008
    You are correct. With a managed Library, the master image file is copied to the Library. With a referenced Library, the file is left in place.

    A Library of nothing but referenced images can get pretty large as well. With thumbnails and the like, it's not uncommon for them to get upwards of 100GB as well. My Library is about 95% referenced at the moment and I'm pushing 50GB.

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