is Aperature any better than iphoto for central(NAS) file storage

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by ACaldwell, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. ACaldwell macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012
    I've got the same issue everyone else has - family has multiple macs/apple-things, wants central storage of 50GB of photos, ability to add to the shared library as we take more pictures, etc.

    all the articles I've read suggest this doesn't work all that well in practice w/ iPhoto, and I can attest to that. It's to big to just 'put it on the cloud', and maintaining copies on everyone's laptops is a pain (not to mention clearly space wasteful). aperture any better for this? Do you have a better suggestion?
  2. pdjudd macrumors 601

    Jun 19, 2007
    Plymouth, MN
    Aperture and iPhoto basically use the same file organization structure - they use library files (they use the same library file these days) that contain everything just like iPhoto does.
  3. ACaldwell, Aug 31, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012

    ACaldwell thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012
    it doesn't seem like, in principal, a library file structure would make concurrent multi-access impossible. Doe aperature do a better job of supporting the ongoing management of that library? In particular, if it put it on a drive attached to an airportExtreme (or, if that's problematic any NAS device)

    -> I can add to the shared library periodically from more than one account on more than one mac
    -> I can access it from more than one account, on more than one mac
  4. Aragorn234 macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    I came looking for answer to a question around shared photo storage. The more I start to use my Mac and associated software the more deficiencies I seem to find.

    Is there anything that others can recommend for a mac that will allow me to view a huge file store of photos sitting on my NAS?

    I have 2 Macs that need to share this photo libary (RMBP and 2011 27inch iMac)
  5. jacg macrumors 6502a


    Jan 16, 2003
    I'm not sure the storage format of Aperture and iPhoto is suited to multiple users at the same time. The content can be stored anywhere, but only one computer can edit the library at one time.
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I suggest that you re-think your workflow, and sharing strategy.

    1) Sharing every picture sounds good in theory, but is really crappy in practice. A very small percentage of your photos are likely to be worthy of sharing.

    2) Having multiple users manipulating a common database of photos is a recipe for disaster. This is especially true if the database is accessed concurrently.

    3) Keeping your photo library on a NAS is a quick path to frustration. It is much better served on an SSD, or DAS RAID array. Performance really matters.

    4) A3 is one of the best and most powerful programs that I have ever used. Personally, I think it is reason enough to move to a mac.

    5) My suggestion is to learn how to use A3 well... rate, stack, pick, keyword, etc... and then create "smart albums" that contain only your best work. From those, create slideshows etc that highlight that work... and share that. You will be doing everyone a favor. Sifting through tons of crap photos does not add value to anyone else.

    6) If you need to share the whole bloody mess... set up a program (ex: CCC) to sync the current library to another user at a regular interval. It will overwrite their database, but they will have access to everything.

    7) If that is not good enough... import all pictures into both your own, and the other person's database.

    8) Regarding your iMac and MacBook pro: A3 does an amazing job of letting you check projects in/out of one machine and into another. You need to have one place that your database "lives"... from there, you can temporarily move projects to a second machine. Also, you can create new projects on your MacBook Pro while in the field, and then migrate those projects into your master library when you return to your primary machine.

    9) Worth repeating... do not try to share your single library... especially if you care about your digital assets. Sharing a library is less sanitary than sharing a toothbrush.


  7. ACaldwell thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012
    i'm very much open to that...but this isn't really a work's just for a family of 4 w/ multiple machines. And you're right - we don't really need concurrent access, but I want to avoid having the one machine that's to be used when you want a find a picture or download the tons taken from a recent trip. I'd like the whole 12-year-family-photo-library on a centralized drive because we don't look at it while traveling and putting copies on every act/machine is silly.

    a few specifics you mentioned.....

    even though we do pretty minimal editing? Is the bottleneck the wifi network, or the slow connection to the drives? Having it wirelessly accessible is really convenient. Is there a way to make that work?

    that sounds like it might work. Sounds like it would provide-
    -> single, central, master library so I have one clear thing to backup
    -> clear process for migrating photos saved on a laptop while traveling to the library when I get back home
    -> access from multiple machines - but not concurrent access to the same files, which is fine.

    Sounds like I need to go readup on managing photo libraries w/ aperature. Anyone care to suggest a favorite guide?


  8. flynz4, Sep 2, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR

    The problem with having "multiple but not concurrent access" is that it there is nothing, except for self discipline that prevents multiple people from accessing, and possibly modifying the database at the same time. I would avoid putting in a system that allows this.

    My suggestion... specific to your usage is as follows:

    • Have a single "master library" on your iMac. This would be the only library that you would ever use to upload your family photos. I would put it on the fastest local drive that you have that has enough space for your library. In priority order: internal SSD, TB attached SSD, TB attached RAID controller, Internal HDD. I would not put it on a NAS. Performance has little to do with "editing" your pictures. It has everything to do with "using" your pictures.
    • Extend that "master library" to your MacBook Pro for use while you are in the field. If you are on a family vacation, you could upload each day's pictures into a new project in the A3 library on your MBP. You could also choose to work on that project if you so desire... by doing things such as rejecting, rating, managing your stacks, keywords, location editing, etc. When you return home, transfer that project into your "master library" on your iMac. All of your work is imported.
    • Make a second copy of your pictures onto a second place on your network, that is used by everyone in the family. This keeps your primary library clean and managed by one person. It dramatically reduces any possibility of having that library becoming corrupted. Storage is so incredibly inexpensive that trying to minimize duplication of photo storage is just not necessary.

    Personally... I would strongly recommend that you do NOT put every photo out on the shared drive... but there is no limit to what you actually put there. There is a very strong common mis-perception that "more is better"... but when it comes to photography, the more you prioritize, sort, cull your photographs... the more valuable the end result. Said another way... if people were given a choice of a) all 20K pictures taken in a year, or b) the top 1K pictures... almost everyone would choose a). However, option b) would be MUCH more valuable, useful, and enjoyable. A3 give you great tools to get to b), but you do not have to take advantage of it.

  9. ACaldwell thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012
    Thanks for the specific suggestions. If I may - I have a few 'clarifying questions'...

    does that library need to be accessible from only a single account (the photo uploading act, as it were) to ensure it cannot be concurrently accessed (e.g. if someone had left A3 open and not logged out and then someone else opened it on their account...that'd be 'concurrent' access to the library, correct?

    This will perhaps make more sense after I've spent some time with A3, but 'transferring projects' from multiple other machines/acts into that master which lives on the imac is 'safe'...because project transfer is an atomic action? or because you 'pull' from the act/machine that owns the master so it's only open in one place?

    and the copies are read only? That is, no sorting, editing, face identification, etc happens on them because changes won't be pulled back into the master library?

    thanks again.

  10. scarred macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2011
    Excuse my ignorance, what is A3?
  11. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    Apple Aperture 3
  12. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR

    Libraries are really "happiest" when they are private to one account/user. They are not really meant to be shared.

    Personally... even if libraries supported multiple user concurrent access (they don't)... I still would not want someone else mucking around with my library.

    It is a personal workspace... where you can create fantastic projects.

    The basic building block of A3 is a "project". When you import pictures into A3, that "original" (previously called master) lives in a single project... and only one single project. From the original, you can have as many "versions" as you desire. They can be used anywhere... so you are not restricted to having just the originals. You can create versions for different uses, that look different from one another. They still derive from the same "original".

    One of the options that you have is to migrate projects from one machine to another. When you do that... all of the information about the photo transfers. The two commands that are used is "export project as a new library". Later you can merge that library back into your main library.

    This becomes useful if you want to take some work with you on a trip and work with it. If you export a project, then you can do anything you want on that project, and then when you come home, you can merge that project back into your library. You do not have to take you whole library with you.. you can just take individual projects.

    Likewise... on a trip you may create a new project. During a two week B&B tour around Ireland, I created a new project "Ireland" on my MBA. Every night I would import pictures from both of our cameras. I could rate them, sort them, manage stacks, keyword, etc. That project grew every day, and I did the incremental work that adds significant value. When I returned home... I merged that project back into my main A3 library... and it was no different than if I created it on the iMac from inception.

    If you want to think of it as an Atomic operation... then that is fine. A3 is designed to import projects into the master library... or merge projects with different versions of that project... and it protects all the data. This is similar in idea, (but not operation) how a memory or storage operation would operate with atomic primitives.

    They are external to your library... using whatever program, or structure you wish. I know you are hanging onto the concept that others want "everything". I believe that by doing so, you are diluting the real value of what is possible. Most good photographers that I know spend a lot of time culling their collection to something that is much smaller... and MUCH more valuable than having all of the great and crap shots all mixed up together.

    I have toyed with the idea of using CCC or similar program to do a one-way sync of my database to my wife's account. This would give her everything at her disposal. However, instead I create fantasic collections of our work that have purpose, focus, and organization... all of which gives her use of our photo collection that far exceeds the value of a big blob of crappy photos.

    If she truly needs everything, then just import everything into each of your own A3 libraries.

    One final suggestion, that will far exceed the value of everything you have read here... go to and buy his extremely inexpensive eBooks. In particular, get the "organization" and "file management" books. I predict that you will read them at least 20 times... and things will become clear.

    BTW: I do wish that A3 or LR supported better sharing... in a safe way... and in a way where one person's work did not affect another's. However, it just does not work that way. In the end... I am not 100% that it should.

  13. ACaldwell thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012
    Thanks so much for the detailed responses, Jim.

    I've just hopped on A3 and am reading through the 'help'. I'll also check out the eBooks you suggested.

    it seems that nothing really does, which is unfortunate IMO. It's not that I really want to dump all the 10000s of pictures on the rest of my family, so much as I'd like a convenient way to work collaboratively with them. I'd be nice if we could all participate in the tagging, sorting, ranking and using of our collective photo library.

    I take and upload most of the family photos, but my wife does most of the tagging and makes the photo books.
    ...but alas, nothing's really setup for group collaborative work. It would seem like someone would attach a photo-based front-end on top of something like Subversion to ensure safe checkin-checkout <shrug>.

    Till then, a managed workflow and A3 looks like the way to go.

    thanks again for your patient response.

  14. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR

    I do have another suggestion. You will need to read the eBooks try try and figure this out... because I have not actually used this next feature. I am a rank amateur compared to Boyer... they guy who wrote the eBooks.

    I mentioned earlier about the way that you can export and import projects into your aperture library. If I understand it right... you can export a project, and then perform work on that project on a different computer. When you import... there are two options. One of them "merges" the project into the pre-existing project. This merge... truly merges the two projects on a field by field basis. Hence... if you were to work on tonal filters, and your wife was working on tagging, and your son was working on location editing, and you daughter was working on rating... or even if you were all working on tagging... when you merge the copies of the project back into your main library... all of your combined edits would survive on a field by field basis.

    Like I said... I have never used this feature. Maybe you can keep a single master library on one machine (presumably your iMac)... and then each of you can "export-work-merge" projects and work on specific aspects of a project to accomplish your "collaborative" photo management.

  15. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    Maybe you should let everyone use iPhoto on their own computer, controlling their own libraries, but share their libraries over the network? iPhoto (and Aperture I believe) have built in sharing options. See:

    Then, everyone can access everyone else's library, import any photos they want into their own. You could have one machine with a "master" library that imports everything from everyone's shared library.

    Also, you could all use the same photostream account setup, and then photos that everyone takes or imports will be seen in everyone's photo stream.
  16. RHA macrumors member

    Oct 31, 2011
    NAS Drive and Single File Experience

    Five years ago starting using NAS (WITH RAID 5 array) because my family takes tons of photos and simply wanted security if a drive fails. Currently over 60k individual items in a single directory. We use Elements Organizer not A3.

    While speed at times is an issue access to library has never been. Whether its the wife using a MS based machine or one of the kids accessing off their Macbooks, or me with an iMac

    Organization of the library using Albums (the adobe approach) helps keep projects separate. All members of family can create own unique file sets - original files are still around for later use.

    For what its worth if one family member is primary user than i think the organizational issues should be what he/she is most comfortable with...
  17. LSeida macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    In the same boat


    I am in the same situation as you, I don't want to move my photos off of my NAS. Are you using A3 and how is working for you?


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