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Archiving from Lightroom CC

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When I decided to make the switch to Lightroom CC from Classic, one of my hopes was that I’d be done with external hard drives. Last year I had an apocalypse style photo meltdown when I made a mistake with my main external hard drive and then my backup hard drive glitched. It took months to sort through all the issues and I still lost a few archived photo projects, it sucked. With everything synced to the Adobe Creative Cloud via CC I hoped to avoid all such future problems.

Archiving from Lightroom cc

Lightroom CC limitations

I made a full jump into CC at the start of the year (2019). After a few months, I was starting to get to the limit of the entry storage plan of 1TB so I upgraded to 2TB and noticed that storage options scaled up to 10TB. With Lightroom Classic, everything would work fine until about 20,000 images and then it would slow way down and glitch constantly. For some reason, I made the silly assumption that since CC provided storage options up to 10TB, it could handle it. It was a dumb assumption that proved to be wrong.

This summer was busy for me. I had a photo shoot almost everyday and got up to 30,000 images in my Lightroom CC library almost without noticing. This last month, my Lightroom CC become seriously clunky and glitchy. Exporting photos started to take forever and then this bizarre glitch began where Lightroom CC would double and triple export images. One work around was to store an album locally and then everything would work almost normally but the syncing process to store locally took forever. I decided to archive done projects and some of my Infatuation shoots to get my library below 25,000 images and then hopefully below 20,000.

How to Archive

When Lightroom CC came out, they made it very easy to convert from Classic to CC. Going in reverse turned out to be a bit more challenging. There is a Lightroom CC downloader that’ll download your entire library. If you’ve had it with CC and want to jump over to something else, this is probably the best option.

Since I was just hoping to move over some of my done project files, I didn’t want to contend with my entire library. After a few failed trial and error processes, what ended up working for me was to store my project files locally, export to an external hard drive and organize those files into Lightroom Classic catalogs.

Step one: store locally


At the point where I needed to archive, exporting images was a huge issue. It took forever, often double and triple exported and sometimes got stuck. The only work around was to store images locally. To do so, just right-click on the album you want to store locally and agree to download.

Step two: export images & xml files


The export options for Lightroom CC are seriously stripped down compared to Classic so there isn’t too much to say here. The main thing is that you have to export your original files with the xml file (otherwise known as “settings” here). That way, when you import into Lightroom Classic, you’ll have all of the edits you’ve made.

Step three: embrace external hard drives

Lightroom Classic

So all of this started in my quest to rid my life of external hard drives. I got burned hard by 2 that clunked out on me at once (my archive one and the backup archive). Sadly, Lightroom CC just isn’t at a stage where I can leave everything I shoot in there for the next 10 years. When I had my external melt down, I asked everyone for recommendations and eventually moved everything to LaCie drives. They’re all I use now and I haven’t had any more malfunctions. A few folks also suggested using Google Photos but I feel like Google owns enough pieces of my digital life as is.


Anyway, I archive things about 6 months after I’ve delivered a project. The fully edited jpegs are all in Dropbox so I technically have that as a back up. The original files, in my mind, are a nice to have just in case.

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