Multi-Location Workflow

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Today’s Question: I have the good fortune to live in different parts of the country at different times of the year and I have desktop computers at each location. Am I better off using cloud storage via Lightroom CC, which I can then access from multiple locations (at a price), or would it be best to use Lightroom Classic with an external hard drive that I disconnect and reconnect as I travel?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The best solution here depends in large part on your workflow needs and software preferences. Lightroom CC is best if you want to have all of your photos available from any location on virtually any device. Lightroom Classic CC may be the better choice if you won’t want to depend upon an Internet connection for synchronizing your photos between multiple locations.

More Detail: To me the fundamental difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC relates to storage. With Lightroom CC you are essentially storing your source photos in the cloud (on Adobe’s servers), and accessing them via Internet-based synchronization. With Lightroom Classic CC you are storing your photos locally, and therefore could potentially move photos between locations.

Lightroom CC was built from the ground up as a solution for working from multiple locations using multiple devices (including both computers and mobile devices). Therefore, Lightroom CC is a good choice for photographers who want to be able to access their photos from virtually anywhere at any time.

If you’re more comfortable managing your storage yourself, including managing the folder structure based on your own preference, Lightroom Classic CC may be the better solution. For example, Lightroom CC doesn’t enable you to define your own custom folder structure to manage your photos beyond the context of Lightroom CC.

Of course, with Lightroom Classic CC you’ll also need to manage your catalog more carefully. That means, for example, that you may want to keep the catalog files for Lightroom Classic on the same external hard drive as your photos. This will streamline the process of working with your catalog, but it can also negatively impact performance due to the slower speed of an external hard drive compared to an internal hard drive.

On balance, I would say that Lightroom CC provides a much more streamlined workflow provided you have a fast enough Internet connection at all locations to facilitate prompt synchronization. That said, the two versions of Lightroom aren’t completely matched in terms of features. Therefore, I recommend looking at the features of each relative to your own needs and workflow preferences to decide which approach might be best for you. Either approach can work, so it is really a matter of choosing an option based on your own preferences.