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Moving Computers – Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom Icon
Adobe Lightroom Icon

It is always a pain to move to a new computer because there are so many files and settings that need to be redone for the user to really get productive again.

With this idea in mind I offer the following tips and advice in regards to moving an Adobe Lightroom User from one machine to another.

This guide is geared towards people who are technically proficient on the Windows operating system, but should be able to serve as a guide to those working in a Macintosh environment.

If you have any other ideas or tips please feel free to send them my way!

Transferring the Data

As any User of Lightroom knows, the Catalog and Image files are the heart of your work and business, and if you are moving to a new machine, you need to consider what to do with them as you move forward.

On the “C:” drive of Old Machine –

There are several of options available to you, if your original catalogs and Images are still on the main “c:\” hard drive of your old machine.

Transfer files across the Network

If both machines are still attached to a network, you can easily transfer the catalogs across, but that is going to take time, and chew up various network resources.

Remember, depending on the number of Images you have, your catalog directory could easily reach several gigabytes worth of data,in my case: Catalog: 12.7 GBs & Images: 261 GBs

Remove the old hard drive –

If you remove the hard drive, you have two basic options, but before you begin, backup your files on the old machine in your normal manner.

Install in new computer –

By simply taking the hard drive out of the old machine, and installing it into your new machine, is most certainly the easiest of the options, and also gives you a second HD spindle when dealing with I/O operations in Lightroom.

But before you remove the hard drive, be sure to check the compatibility of data interfaces on your new machine – Can the new machine deal with the older IDE interface?

An example I can give, is my new machines, that is based on the Asus Z87-Pro motherboard, which does not have any IDE connections.

Also keep in mind, that if you connect the old “C:” drive, and it wants to reinitialize for whatever reason, and you have not backed up your data…

External case –

This is another good alternative, and does give you the flexibility to move to different environments with little issue, and also gives you the additional spindle speed during I/O, but is subject to the port speed when you plug-in, assuming that the chipset on the external drive is the faster of the two.


There are three critical areas that need to be transferred to your new machine for it to work in a fashion that you are used to: Images, Catalogs and Preferences.

Images –

Do I really need to say more?

Catalogs –

As mentioned earlier, catalogs can easily reach several gigabytes worth of data, but does all that data need to be transferred to the new computer?

Again Users of Lightroom know, and unless they have change the default settings, the program will prompt you to do backups, which are located in a sub-directory of the main catalog directory.


By simply looking into the backup directory, one could easily save time and the amount of data that needs to be transferred, by simply cleaning out old unnecessary files, but this is completely user based.

Just check to see which “Date – Time” named directories really need to be moved.

Preferences –

Since this is most likely a new software install, none of your preferences will be in place, so where are those files located?

Like all other User preferences, they are stored in the operating system’s Users profile directory, that is hidden through the normal interface, that can be easily accessed with a little forethought.


Once you are inside Adobe Lightroom directory, it should be very easy to recognize which directories are most important to you.

In my case I transferred files from these directories onto my new machine:

Adobe\Lightroom\Export Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Filename Templates
Adobe\Lightroom\Import Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Keyword Sets
Adobe\Lightroom\Metadata Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Smart Collection Templates

Once installed in the new directories, Lightroom should have no issue accessing the “.lrtemplate” files. (BTW – If you really want to be geeky, you can open up these files in a text editor and play with them to your heart’s content)


When I moved to my new machine, I used a combination of techniques described above.

On my old machine, the Lightroom catalogs and images were already located on an internal secondary SATA hard drive, so I just removed the old hard drive, and installed it into the new machine.

From there, I copied the images and catalogs (approx 275 GBs) to the root directory of my new machine, creating a new backup of the files.

Even across the SATA III bus, this still took several hours, and I could smell hard drive smoke. (just kidding!)

When I got to my preferences, I connected to my old machine across the network and simply copied the files into the associated directories.

From there, I reconnected the Lightroom catalogs to the local main image directory, now located on the root of my main “c:\” drive.

Finally, I rewrote my old robocopy script to include the additional external hard drive, that I added for redundancy in my backup solution.

  • HDD1 (1.0 TB) – Enhanced (WDC Black) (Live Data)
  • HDD2 (1.5 TB) – Seagate Barracuda 7200 – Backup 01 (Internal)
  • HDD3 (2.0 TB) – WDC Green – Backup 02 (External)

Some may argue, that having all my data on the “c:\” will produce bottlenecks, while I would agree in theory, I also have to wonder with my usage of Intel’s RST technology, reduces this as an issue.

I have also, set the cache files of both Lightroom and Photoshop, to the extra space left over on my Solid State drive, as mentioned in another post.

If you have any thoughts or ideas I’d be very interested in hearing from you.

Good luck!

- Andrew
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Moving to Windows 7

110813 Hersey Park 052
The Roller Coast of Upgrading

I have finally done two things for my computer and online environment that I’ve been contemplating for a very long time: Upgrading to Windows 7 and Moving to a new Web Hosting service. (Moving to a new host will be described in another post.)

When Microsoft Vista came out, there were a great many reports and issues involved with this transitional operating system, and many of those did not like what they seem trapped with when they bought their new machines, and many corporations refused to move to Vista.

Even with time, service packs and patches, Vista never seem to be ready for prime time, so when Windows 7 came out in October of 2009, many people were even more anxious about this new operating system. Would this new operating system be a similar public relations disaster?

As more and more people used and reviewed Windows 7, it became clear, the Microsoft had learned from their earlier mistakes.

Personally, I had said to myself many a times, that I was going to wait till I got a new computer before I made the switch to Windows 7 on my primary machines, but that thinking got squashed when Adobe announced that Lightroom 4 would only run in Windows 7.

To my knowledge, this was the first mainstream application that required the use of Windows 7, and since I rely heavily on Lightroom, I had to reevaluate my thinking and my pocketbook.

So after freeing up some time and getting all business related activity done, I set about the task of backing up my system and beginning the migration to this new operating system.

I had not done a fresh install of my main computer in many years, so I was very concerned that I was able to keep my various settings, as well as applications that I had grown very fond of over the years.

I made backups of backups, hunted down preference settings and serial numbers, and finally made the switch.

After booting into my fresh operating system, I noticed my machines seem to be responding quicker to normal tasks which was quite pleasant.

I am still amazed the amount of time  necessary for our newly installed machine, which easily reaches 200+ patches, if one includes Microsoft Office, but once done it is like driving a new car, but without that unique scent (some would argue there is a different scent…).

At the moment, my single biggest issue with doing the upgrade, has been the restoration of my files, and this has to do mostly with my usage of Robocopy and User Account Control (UAC).

In the past, using Robocopy was a matter of learning the various command-line switches and writing your script accordingly, and for the most part, this still holds true, but one still needs to manually increase their privileges for the script to work.

This can easily be done, by typing in “cmd” in the program search field, and then holding the “Shift” key, as one right clicks, and selects “Run as administrator”.

I do need to spend some more time to get my backup scripts running with the same robocopy scripts but at the moment I’m happy doing it manually.

At least, I know they are running and completed.

All in all I had been very pleased with the upgrade, and does seem to increase the life of some of your existing computer equipment, assuming you can find compatible drivers.

If for nothing more, you now have a lot longer period till you have to worry about Microsoft no longer supporting your operating system! (See Microsoft Product Lifecycle for XP)

– Andrew
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Software Utilities

Problems with Robocopy on W2K8

Has anyone had problems getting robocopy to copy from one partition to another on W2K8? I have setup a script that copies files from a W2K3 machine to a W2K8 machine without issue.

But then I try and do a similar copy from one internal HD to an External USB drive, no files are copied!

I already know about the new “Security” related issues that were introduced with Vista and W2K8, and I have tried previous versions as well!

If you have any thoughts or ideas, they would be greatly appreciated!


– Andrew
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