Lightroom and Networks
Ever try to open an Adobe Lightroom catalog from a network drive? Can't do it. In fact, this has to be an explicit design "feature" of Lightroom.
Now this sucks for those of us that have a NAS on our network, containing all our media files. And for those of us that use multiple computers to access that data, it means we might have different catalogs managing image information, which isn't good at all. I enjoy the benefits of my NAS with Photoshop, which behaves quite nicely in a network environment.
Even with a network resource mapped to a drive designator, Lightroom complains explicitly about a network-based catalog.
I've tried a variety of solutions with either moderate or no success. The SUBST command is one alternative but requires the use of the same drive letter on every computer, otherwise Lightroom can't find the media files. I've used the SUBST command to give a drive letter to a long path (I'm lazy). The command takes the form as follows:
To create a virtual drive G for the path P:\Media\CatalogPath, type:
subst g: p:\Media\CatalogPath (assumes the NAS is already mapped to a network drive)
On some system, Lightroom may still see the new drive as a network resource, since g: isn't a bios-installed local drive. To me, solutions that don't always work aren't solutions.
What I really needed was a Windows equivalent to the Unix SYMLINK command. To my surprise, there actually is one!
Use the MKLINK command to create a symbolic link within your local drive structure. For example, to create a Catalog folder on my C drive that actually links to the Catalog folder on my NAS:
MKLINK /d "C:\Catalog" "P:\Media\Catalog"
Again, this assumes the NAS is mapped to the P drive.
This does a good job of providing the catalog from a network source, but still presents a problem with the image files possibly being mapped to different network drives on different workstations. Setting up the images and catalog under a common, shared directory like the following provides a solution:
Then simply create a directory symlink as follows:
MKLINK /d "C:\Media" "P:\Media"
This presents the entire NAS drive's \Media subdirectory on my local C. Note, this is a link to the network data, and does not copy anything to your local drive. So please be careful when deleting anything, as you are actually manipulating the data on your network drive. As always, using a "working" directory while maintaining an unmodified directory of your images is extremely important.
You can place the MKLINK command in a batch file on the NAS, or create a separate batch/script to both map the network drive and create the symlink.
Hope this helps!
Friday, June 11, 2010