Cloud Sync Clarification

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Today’s Question: I am not Cloud literate so this may be a silly question. I am in a country with limited Internet availability. My carrier limits me to 30 GB up/down per month. My photo files are about 800 GB. If I switch to the new Lightroom CC in the future will I need to upload my full 800 GB to a Cloud server??

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, using the new Lightroom CC would generally mean you would be uploading (via synchronization) all of your existing photos to the cloud. However, conceptually it is also possible to pause this synchronization to avoid exceeding your online usage limits. That would, however, greatly reduce the utility of Lightroom CC.

More Detail: The new Lightroom CC very much revolves around online synchronization to the cloud. That means you would initially be copying all of your existing images via the Internet to Adobe’s servers, and as new photos are added to Lightroom CC they too would be copied via synchronization.

You can certainly pause the synchronization at any time within Lightroom CC. However, there are some inherent challenges with this.

First of all, if you were to pause the synchronization for Lightroom CC in order to avoid reaching a data cap for your Internet usage, it could take considerable time before you achieve any real utility with Lightroom CC. In this specific example, if you limit yourself to a maximum of 30 GB of synchronization each month, to synchronize the full 800 GB library would require more than two years. That obviously isn’t very practical.

In addition, pausing synchronization means that updates applied to your photos (such as adding star ratings or keywords, or applying adjustments) would not be synchronized. You would therefore not be viewing the latest updates for your images when viewed on other platforms such as on a mobile device or in a web browser.

Put simply, I would not recommend using Lightroom CC unless you have consistent access to a high-speed Internet connection without data transfer limits that would prevent you from taking full advantage of Lightroom CC. The online synchronization feature of Lightroom CC is really a core feature, and in my mind you should only consider the new Lightroom CC if you’ll be able to fully implement that capability within your workflow.