Multi-system Lightroom

I’ve been doing photography for years. And, for years, I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit my photos. With the advent of the photographer’s plan and the two-system allowance, I’ve been able to get Photoshop as well, for a low monthly cost.

However, one feature that’s always been missing is catalog sync between systems. While some people will throw the catalog on a network share, and use it from there, I’ve never been comfortable with doing that due to corruption concerns.

Historically, I’ve just used RDP from my tablet or laptop to get to my desktop where I have Lightroom installed. There are some disadvantages to this method. For starters, if my connection dips for any reason, or if RDP decides to throttle my connection, I’ll end up with artifacts as well as a reduced color depth. It also, even at its best, feels less responsive. And, with Lightroom not being the fastest program, these negatives effects are compounded by RDP.

This solution was a two-part solution. First part was to get my 1 TB of photos to a faster, more central location than my desktop hard drive. I have a homeserver with a large RAID10 array. Thanks to dual NICs, I’ve got the network bandwidth to spare, and RAID10 is quite a bit faster than my local hard drive. RAID also lets me lose a drive without having total downtime until I can replace a drive and restore from Crashplan.

So, I fired up Lightroom, and added the share for the drive to my folder list. I then moved a few folders over for testing from my desktop. I decided that if the speed was similar between desktop and server, that there would be no harm in just moving everything before trying the sync. After doing a few tests, I couldn’t really see a difference so I started moving the rest of the photos. I did the photo moving from Lightroom so it’d keep all the data, rather than moving in Explorer and reimporting. It took a little longer, but I feel that it was worth it.

It was at this point that I remembered that I had photos in a second location. Since Lightroom is so sluggish, I have a secondary SSD where I keep photos that I’m actively working on. When I’m done with them, I move them back to the main photo location for storage. I didn’t want to lose access to these photos when I’m working on my laptop, so I set up some mapped network drives to keep everything straight. Luckily, I don’t have drive letter mixing between my laptop and desktop, so it was a quick fix.

Finally, it was time to set up the sync. I used allwaysync, since I wanted to capture the previews as well, and it seems to handle massive syncs better than some of the other tools I’ve used. Once I set it up to sync my lightroom folder to my laptop, and it finished running (It took forever due to there being over 100k small files), it was time to test.

I opened the catalog on my laptop, and all my previews, presets, and filters were right there. To test, I did some edits and browsed through some folders. Even with DNG/CR2 files, there wasn’t any extra lag as compared to running from my desktop. I’m doing this testing on an Asus Ultrabook (16gb ram/I7) running on AC wifi.

All in all, I’m quite satisfied with the performance, and I think that this will make photo editing a lot more mobile. For example, if I’m traveling, all I need to do is move a folder to my laptop via lightroom, and sync up when I get back. Or, I can import some files to my laptop while on a shoot to do in the field edits, and then sync back when I’m home.

Rosewill RNG-407-Dualv2 Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I picked up a Rosewill RNG-407-Dualv2 for my home server. It’s a dual gigabit NIC, that Amazon had for less than $40. Thanks to Hyper-V and an Ubiquiti managed switch, I was able to quickly set up port channel, which gave me some extra speed on network operation, as well as separating my VI network traffic from my management traffic.

Since they were so affordable, I decided to pick one up for my desktop as well. My desktop runs Windows 10 Pro, with Hyper-V. I figured I’d set it up the opposite way from server, with the desktop getting the port channel 2 gbps connection, and my VM’s getting my existing onboard 1 gbps connection. Little did I know that this was going to be a bit more of a hassle.

As any decent IT guy would do, I tossed aside the provided driver CD, and jumped online to grab the latest drivers. And then the fun started.

Rosewill’s drivers installed as expected and I suddenly had two LAN interfaces as expected. However, Microsoft does not support teaming in Windows 10 natively. That was probably something I should have investigated before buying this, but what’s a home tech project that doesn’t have a few surprises?

I did some checking on Rosewill’s site, however, it was sparse on details and instructions. There was a diagnostic driver that had a folder called teaming, however attempting to install it was blocked by Windows due to incompatibilities.

At this point, I was starting to get concerned, so I decided to check with the chipset manufacturer and see what generic drivers they had. Fortunately, the network chip is a Realtek product, so they had several driver options on their website.

I download the latest Windows 10 drivers, and install. They are more recent than the Rosewill ones, so I had high initial hopes for them. Alas, there was still no way to configure teaming from the driver side.

Realtek had a diagnostic driver, so I attempted an install of that. Everything seemed great. Network cards showed up in network devices with Realtek Teaming driver, and no alerts anywhere. So, I fire up the Realtek Diagnostic Tool, and it fails with a protocol error. I do some Googling, and turn up an old driver on AsRock’s site of all places that claims teaming abilities.

Deciding that I have nothing left to lose, I download and install the driver pack. I try to load the teaming utility, and it comes right up. I am then able to set up network teaming through the rather archaic looking utility. After a quick port channel config on the switch, I’m able to get connected.

As a test, I start copying some large files to two separate systems to maximize speed. Right away, I hit 1.5gbps, which is exactly what I want to see.

For now, I’m satisfied, however, I suspect I’ll be trying the Realtek Diagnostic drivers again, since I’m not sure why those wouldn’t work, but an older AsRock driver for Realtek would.