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Tips & Tricks

Disk Cleanup Tip To Recover Gigabytes That Lightroom May Be Hoarding

By Justin Heyes on August 1st 2016

If you’ve used Lightroom in the past, well, ever, you know it can be a resource hog. It’s almost a cliche at this point to even say it but that doesn’t mean it should be shrugged off and or trivialized. For all Lightroom’s brilliance there is that side of it no one likes; a side that seems so technologically backward and not client serving. It can be slow, sure, but what it can also do is take up a lot of your hard drive in a way you wouldn’t know to look for to clear, and you can literally free up 10s of GBs from your HD with a simple targeted disk cleanup.

When you render 1:1 Previews of your catalog, Lightroom will create all of the previews that are necessary for developing your images (1:1, Standard, and Thumbnail images). This can significantly increase the speed of your workflow. Over time these 1:1 Previews can add up, and after a certain period the unused images will be removed from your system. As long as your system does not change, it will eventually clean out any unused files. Once you’ve updated Lightroom to the newest and greatest version, however, the catalog and its directory get updated as well as highlighted over at DIY Photography.


Much like a hoarder, Lightroom likes to collect and store unneeded things and squirrel them away to be used later. Instead of stacks of newspapers and unopened fast food toys, Lightroom keeps images previews. When the Catalog and directory are updated the previous previews are left on your system costing you storage space; potentially gigabytes. Udi Tirosh over at DIY Photography shows us a quick tip on how to reclaim that extra space.

If you the type of person who keeps one catalog per project, your preview image cache might not be that big. It doesn’t hurt to check, especially if you are running out of drive space. I know I will have to clean out the last few weddings I shot, and there are accounts of people clearing north of 40GB of previews this way. Worth a look.

If you want to have your eyes opened as to what Lightroom can really do, I always recommend the Lightroom Workflow Collection as the surest way to go from being good to absolutely astonishing in LR. Check it out here.

Source: DIY Photography

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. charles harris

    great info

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  2. Hannes Nitzsche

    interesting article. Another one is old catalog backups. I’m not sure if I missed anything but to the best of my knowledge LR doesn’t automatically deletes old catalog backups (say, backups older than x amount of days or by only ever keeping X amount of backups). If you are like me and back your catalog up every time lightroom closes, this means you get like 30 backups a month. While this is a good thing, I can’t see me ever wanting to go back into a two-month old backup… So I don’t think it’s worth keeping all these backup files. But same as the previews, LR doesn’t offer really good ways of backing up your catalogs… An incremental backup method would be nice especially for people who only use one master catalog…
    …. hahaha and this is how I usually get off-topic. Thanks for the write-up Justin! :)

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