Understanding the Creative Cloud


Today’s Question: My question may seem naive but I’m only just now getting involved with the Adobe Creative Cloud. Where are my pictures located once I start using Lightroom, and how are my devices known?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This question relates to what is perhaps the greatest source of confusion regarding the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plans. With the Creative Cloud plans, the software applications you’ll use (such as Lightroom) are still installed on your computer as “normal” software, and your photos will still reside on your local hard drives based on where you have stored those photos.

More Detail: The Creative Cloud plans really only change two things compared to the “old” method of buying a license for individual software applications.

First, instead of having the option to buy the software on a DVD or other media in a retail store, or to have that media shipped to you from an online retailer, the applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud plans are downloaded from Adobe servers in order to be installed on your local hard drive. In other words, the software is still installed in the exact same way. You’re simply downloading the software for installation rather than receiving that software on a DVD or other media.

Second, the Creative Cloud plans offered by Adobe include online file storage and synchronization services. These options are in addition to your local file storage, not in place of your local storage. So, for example, you would still store all of your photos on a local hard drive, but you would have the option to save some of your files to your Creative Cloud online storage so they could be accessed from other locations, or to synchronize some of your photos so they could be accessed from Lightroom on a mobile device or through a web browser.

You don’t actually need to be connected to the Internet to make use of the various software applications (such as Lightroom) that are included in the Creative Cloud plans. You do need to connect to the Internet at least once very thirty days so Adobe can confirm that your Creative Cloud plan has not expired, but otherwise you can continue to work with the installed software applications while offline.

So, the Creative Cloud plans change the licensing structure from a per-upgrade price to a monthly subscription fee, they change the way the software is delivered for installation, and they provide some additional online benefits. But once you have installed one or more applications that are included in your Creative Cloud plan, those applications will operate as “normal” applications just like any others you’ve installed on your computer, and your photos will remain wherever you’ve stored them.