Today’s Question: You mentioned that the Lightroom Classic catalog should be stored on “an internal or external hard drive”. But is there a reason you should make a choice between an internal drive versus an external drive for that catalog?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You should generally store your catalog on an internal hard drive if you want to maximize performance in Lightroom Classic, and you should store your catalog on an external hard drive if you want to be able to work with your catalog on more than one computer by moving the hard drive to the computer you currently want to work with.
More Detail: The most important thing to keep in mind in terms of where you store your Lightroom Classic catalog is that it should not be stored on a network storage location. That recommendation extends to cloud-based storage options, such as Dropbox. While it may be possible to have Lightroom Classic access the catalog with this type of connection, I highly recommend against this practice, due to the risk of corruption of the catalog.
Instead, you should store the catalog on a local hard drive. That leaves a decision between an internal versus external hard drive.
Generally speaking, storing the catalog on an internal hard drive will provide the best performance for Lightroom Classic, so this is the preferred approach. However, if you want to be able to work with your catalog on more than one computer, storing the catalog on an internal hard drive creates a challenge.
If the priority is to be able to work with your Lightroom Classic catalog on more than one computer, you can store the catalog on an external hard drive. In general that would mean storing the catalog on the same external hard drive you use to store your photos.
With the catalog on an external hard drive, you can easily switch between computers by connecting the drive to the computer you want to use. Assuming you have Lightroom Classic installed on that computer, you can then open the catalog from the external hard drive, enabling you to work normally with the same catalog across more than one computer.
Note that if your photos are also stored on that external hard drive, you’ll need to make sure that the path to the drive remains the same on each computer. That means assigning the same drive letter to the hard drive on each computer for Windows users, or making sure that the volume label remains the same for the hard drive for Macintosh users.