Using external SSD to store lightroom photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Tjmckay4, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. Tjmckay4 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
    I've got a 27" 5k iMac with a 500gb SSD. It's not enough storage to store all my photos so I have a 1tb external 2.5" hard drive attached to the back.

    I use lightroom to manage my photos with full size previews. Considering that the previews (from the external HDD photos) are stored on the internal SSD, is there any advantage using an external SSD instead of a HDD to store the photos?
  2. Tjmckay4 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
  3. peter329 macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2015
    The big advantage with SSD is speed. My question to you: Do you need speed? If I look to my setup, I have an iMac with 1TB internal SSD with current stuff on it. Al other not current stuff (past weddings/shoots) are on a 5TB external hard disk. Both of them are backed up to two separate NAS's on a daily bases. I let you decide what is your best choice.
  4. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68010


    Jun 5, 2012
    Well, there’s speed and reliability of the SSD over the conventional HDD. If you think you’ll never need more than 1tb of external storage the SSD is a good choice.

    However, if you think that your storage needs could soon outgrow that 1tb, larger SSD’s get exponentially more expensive. If that’s possible, until such time as the price of SSD’s are more in line with current HDD prices, I think your best option is to import to your SSD where you cull and edit. When done, move your keepers to an external HDD for long term storage.

    Of course, make sure your back-up includes any external drive.
  5. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Nothing wrong with using an SSD for fast external storage. To get the full benefit of an SSD's speed, you need a fast transport such as Thunderbolt or USB 3.1 Gen2. The only negative to an SSD is cost per amount of storage.

    I use a RAID 0 (striped HD) to store my libraries of photos, music, documents...etc. The external RAID 0 is connected via Thunderbolt so no delay from the transport. The internal 500GB SSD in my iMac is only for boo/OS/apps/caches...etc. I also have an external drive for Time Machine backup of the entire file system.
  6. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    It will certainly be faster on an external SSD versus and external spinner, but I don't think it will be that noticeable, especially if your edits are all done. What I do is use my iMac's internal SSD to hold the current session. Once the edits are done, I export JPGs to Photos/iCloud, then move the original RAW files off to an external spinning drive. If you use LR, you can do this in-program and your edits will be preserved.
  7. mpfuchs macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2014
    Pretty much the same thing I do. Works well, and I can buy the cheaper external hard drives.
    Then buy a second one for backup.
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    The more often you access data, the more you benefit from faster storage. So it may be worthwhile to put the image files for recent projects on an SSD and offload them later on to a spinning platter hard drive.

    And yes, SSDs can be significantly faster, although also here, cheaper high-capacity SSDs are slower than more expensive SSDs. This is because they use different types of memory chips. Nevertheless, they will be significantly faster than hard drives.
  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    I use external SSDs for dealing with current RAW and processed files......and after a period of time when I know I won't be referring to those files any more or working with them again any time soon they get shifted over to a mechanical HDD with larger capacity and then eventually from there on to another HDD which is strictly archival. Actually I have backups of all: the current external drives, the mechanical HDDs and the archival HDDs......

    Right now my current machine is a 2015 15" MBP with 512 SSD capacity; since I have begun getting more active in photography again I will be increasing the capacity in my next machine to 1 TB, which will give me a little more breathing space and flexibility in my handling of image files, both RAW and edited.
  10. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2014
    Are the full size images on the external accessed much? Are they called upon when in the Develop module? DAM module? The speed of the disk is irrelevant if the data is seldom if ever used. With Lightroom I've found it's irrelevant where you store the originals (slowest drive works just fine). The previews do make a difference. Your experience is better with them on an ssd.
  11. kallisti macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2003
    I have a 2017 MBP and keep my entire LR library on an external SSD. Easy to clone the external drive for offsite backup. Don't have to worry about internal storage limits (and don't have to worry about updating my machine for storage reasons).

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10 November 23, 2018