Lightroom: How Many Photos Can I Have In A Catalog? []

Lightroom: How Many Photos Can I Have In A Catalog? [].

I was going to write my own entry on this subject, but the Foto-Biz blog beat me to it.

I think the post has a misunderstanding about the SQLite database that Lightroom uses. SQLLite, to quote their About page is

SQLite is a in-process library that implements a self-contained serverless transactional SQL database engine.

To me that says that you compile the database code into your application but it doesn’t mean that the database itself is all in-memory (virtual or real). The Lightroom catalog is a true database with indexes and tables all in one operating system file. SQLite manages that file.

One analogous PC product is Microsoft Access. Thumbs Plus uses Access for its database. The major drawback with Access is that it isn’t cross-platform and Adobe needed something that works on the Mac.

Enterprise databases like Oracle and SQL Server use a separate database server process. That makes them scalable to many users but it so much more work to administer. Lightroom is simple, but in its current architecture it will not scale to support multiple users of the same catalog.

Interestingly Thumbs Plus is more scalable than Lightroom: you can use any ODBC compliant database with it. I experimented with that using the popular free open source database MySQL. It works but the database administration was too much trouble for my single user environment.

The Foto-Biz blog further says:

Backing up does garbage collection and shrinks the catalog

I don’t think so: I believe a backup is a pure file copy. To shrink the catalog you need to Optimize it using the facility presented in the Lightroom Catalog Settings / General tab.

There’s a brief discussion of this at the Peachpit Photoshop Lightroom Reference guide here.

I don’t want to be too rude but I think the Foto-biz post contains a lot of mis-information.

For myself I want to have all my images in one Lightroom database and damn the disk space! I want to be able to find any photo I have taken at any time without having to think what database I stored it in. But I will never have time to import and index all the photos in my old Thumbs Plus database.

But from here on out I do not intend to use more than one Lightroom database. I want the catalog I have now to index every photo I take for the rest of my life.


2 Responses to “Lightroom: How Many Photos Can I Have In A Catalog? []”

  1. GB-in-TH Says:

    To put it another way, I am trusting Adobe to enhance Lightroom for better capacity and performance faster than I can hit its limits. I gave up on Thumbs Plus when they didn’t keep up.

    Adobe positions Lightroom as a professional tool. Professionals take far more photos than I do – a keen amateur.

  2. GB-in-TH Says:

    Today, July 26th my Lightroom catalog indexes 33.316 pictures and is 756,334,592 bytes immediatly after I optimized it. That’s about 22K of metadata for each picture. It does not include the thumbnail cache which is held separately.

    The thumbnail cache is 13.3 GB – 33,343 files in 26,211 folders. That is 419K per thumbnail.

    That seems like a lot.

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