Today’s Question: I travel and also split extended time between two homes. I keep my photos and Lightroom Classic catalog on an external drive that I use between desktop computer at my main house and on a laptop when traveling and at the second house. I backup the catalog to the internal hard drive on both computers, and to a second external drive. About once a month I backup the two computers and the external drive to another external drive. Any concerns or better ways for me to handle this situation?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Overall I think this is a good solution to a multiple-location workflow. You might consider fine-tuning some of the details of your workflow to ensure optimal performance, or even consider whether the cloud-based version of Lightroom might be a good solution for your workflow.
More Detail: The first thing I would consider is whether a laptop might serve you well as the only computer in your workflow. More than a decade ago I realized that I was traveling so much that it didn’t seem to make sense to use a desktop computer at home and a laptop when traveling. Switching to using a laptop as my only computer no matter where I am has greatly streamlined my overall workflow. You could even use a full-size keyboard and additional monitor connected to your laptop so you have a more “desktop” type of experience when using the laptop at home.
If you prefer to work with two separate computers so you have a more powerful desktop computer at your disposal at home, the key thing I would do is make sure you’re using the fastest external hard drive possible. Having the Lightroom Classic catalog on an external hard drive can cause performance in Lightroom to be significantly degraded, unless that external hard drive is quite fast.
The only other concern I have based on the description of your workflow is that your backups don’t seem to be happening very frequently. In my mind, backing up your hard drives once a month is not nearly frequent enough, unless you’re really not updating the data on your master hard drives very frequently. I recommend, for example, backing up your hard drives after every download from a photo shoot, and anytime you have otherwise significantly updated your data.
Of course, the right frequency for backing up depends on how frequently you are adding or updating data in your workflow. Most photographers I talk to are updating quite a bit of data over the course of a month, and so backing up weekly (or even more frequently) may be more appropriate.