Laura Shoe's Lightroom (and Occasionally Photoshop) Blog for Digital Photographers

Reclaiming Hard Drive Space

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

You may be using a lot more hard drive space with Lightroom than you need to be.  There are three major opportunity areas:  catalog backups, 1:1 previews, and deleting rejects.

Catalog Backups

My Lightroom catalog is about 500 MB.  (To see how large yours is, go to Edit>Catalog Settings on the PC, or Lightroom>Catalog Settings on the Mac.  The size is listed on the General tab.)  If I do a catalog backup once a week, that is 26 GB of catalog copies that I am adding to my hard drive every year.  If I do a backup every day, that is 182 GB per year!    It is important, therefore, to go in and clean out old backups.  I like to keep a few backups in case my catalog already had corruption issues during my most recent backups.  I keep one a week for a month and  one a month for a year.

If you are not sure where your backup catalogs are, next time Lightroom prompts you to back up your catalog, note in the dialog where they are going.  In Finder or Windows Explorer, navigate to this folder.  You will see a folder for each date — delete these date folders.

1:1 Previews

Lightroom creates and saves 3 jpeg copies of each of your images in a preview folder (or file)  in the main catalog folder:  a thumbnail-size jpeg that you see in Grid view, a screen or standard size jpeg that you see in Loupe view, and a full-size 1:1 jpeg that is used when you zoom in on an image in the Library module.   The 1:1 previews in particular can take up many gigabytes of space on your hard drive, depending on how many images you have in your catalog.

You can have Lightroom throw away  the 1:1 previews a day, a week, or a month after they are generated.   Go to Edit>Catalog Settings on the PC or  Lightroom>Catalog Settings on the Mac, click on the File Handling tab, and in the Automatically Discard 1:1 Previews drop down, choose a length of time that covers how long it typically takes you to work through a shoot.

So what if there is no 1:1 preview available, and you zoom in on an image?  Lightroom simply creates a new one — you will see the message “Rendering Larger Preview” on the image as it does this.  Depending on your system, you will most likely find this quick and painless.

Deleting Rejects

When you delete images from within Lightroom, the dialog gives you two choices — Remove and Delete from Disk.  If you choose Remove, you won’t see your images in Lightroom, but they are still on your hard drive taking up space, in most cases unneccesarily.  I suggest that for many if not most of us,  Delete from Disk makes more sense — this removes them from Lightroom and deletes them from your hard drive.

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  1. Thanks for the tips – I’ll give them a go. Hanging out for a retail version of Lightroom 3.

  2. Thanks. Simple ways to reclaim some disk space… and the bigger and bigger resolutions raw files need strategies to manage disk space.

    I like the tips about the automatic discarding 1:1 Previews!

  3. […] So what about the Lightroom-guided backups that you are prompted to do when Lightroom starts?  Contrary to popular belief, these are just backups of your catalog, and not your image files.   I do also use this prompt to  do an additional backup of my catalog  I put these backups on the same drive as my main catalog, in my Photo Library folder.  As a result, I have backups on my main drive, and backups of the backups on my backup drive.  I like the redundancy that this creates.  Occasionally I go in and delete many of these backups.  (See my post on deleting backups.) […]

  4. […] your computer may be moving slower than usual, speed it up by reclaiming some hard drive space. Reclaiming Hard Drive Space Digital Daily Dose ————————— Real men shoot in Manual Mode! Sonny Cantu Photography | SCP facebook […]

  5. I always 7-Zip my backups. That way I get from about 700 MB to 30 MB. If I have to use the backup, I can always unzip it. Hopefully Lightroom will compress the backup file in the next version.

  6. One of the causes of slowing down a computer is the size of the software has a big byte. To avoid this, you need to have a good & fast processor, big memory (2gb or more). Having an external hard drive (1tb or more) is also beneficial. Reme…mber to not install anything to your main C:/ drive except your operating system (OS). You can also do a partition to your hard drive to separate your OS. Install all software (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, etc) in a separate hard drive or in another partition. By this way your PC will run normal and faster like a new.

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