One Lightroom catalog on different devices

Post update on 14.Aug.2016

Lightroom is a single-position system and doesn’t allow access to the database over a network, because its based on  SQLite, which is not network capable and doesn’t allow access from different clients.

This limitation is alright in a normal workflow on a desktop pc or a laptop, the catalog is local and you can process your pictures. But sometimes you’ll need the same catalog on 2 or even more devices.


One Lightroom catalog on different devicesThe first requirement which must be fullfilled is that the images are stored on a NAS device or an external harddrive. Alternatively you can work with smart previews on a Laptop, if the main drive is not accessible from time to time if you are not at home.

As you can read in my article about the  [post id=91]Desktop Upgrade[/post] i store my pictures locally, even though the network is pretty fast, because i gain a little bit more speed.

The second requirement is that you only access one catalog, otherwise you run into problems 😉


a) Within a local network

I prefer the method to copy the Lightroom catalog within a local network from the desktop PC to my laptop, just because of speed. My catalog has 682MB in size and copying this to the server takes arround 7-8 seconds. Copying this catalog form the server to my laptop via WLAN takes 2:03 minutes. I could speed up this process by connecting my laptop via network cable the whole process takes 15-16 seconds.

It doesn’t matter which tool you use to do the synchronisation, i use [post id=196]robocopy[/post], because it is easy to handle. In the scond article about [post id=196]data backup[/post] i posted a method to automatically execute a robocopy script on shutting down the system  or at system start.

b) Cloud services

There were a couple articles on synching the Lightroom catalog with cloud services like Dropbox oder Google drive.

In my opinion there might be a problem in your workflow because of the lack of speed, if you’re going to use a cloud synchronisation. Dropping the Lightroom catalog to the dropbox folder it takes 13 minutes ! (VDSL with 50MBit down and 10 MBit upstream) to synchronize to the other system. Now you can argue that you’re able to use the system while the synchronisation or that the destination system can run during this process.

One Lightroom catalog on different devicesEven if i follow this argumentation, we must watch out for another problem. Opening the catalog with Lightroom in the dropbox folder leads into the generation of a cache folder for the preview files. These folders have to be marked as not to synchronize within Dropbox, otherwise the synchronization via Dropbox will take a lot more time to finish.


Talking about presets and similar settings, which are not that big in size, some made good experiences with synching those files over cloud services. To do this, there has to made a link with mklink in the presets folder pointing to the folder of the cloud service. I only found a german video describing this procedure for Windows systems.


If the catalog is reasonable in size you might use the synchronzation with a cloud service, but doing it with a NAS or an external drive is a lot faster.

Do you use a cloud service? Just leave me your comments or questions.

ciao tuxoche

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