One of my biggest complaints about the new Lightroom, since day one, is that you can’t store your catalog of images on a local storage device. Sure, you can copy them to a local storage device, but everything still “lives” in the cloud.
Adobe has said time and time again that Lightroom should be viewed as a cloud product. For photographers that want local storage, there’s Lightroom Classic, after all.
The problem with cloud storage
The problem with that thinking is that when the cloud fails — as it did with the Lightroom 5.4 update to iOS — you risk a lot as a photographer. If you have an unreliable internet connection and are unable to sync your images off your device, you could be stuck without any type of backup.
When the Lightroom 5.4 update to iOS was released last week, several users complained that some of their photos were missing. Some even claimed they lost literally everything. Gone. Wiped out. And not only that — presets were removed, too.
This leads me to ask the question, why was syncing failing where users lost their entire library of photos? There was literally no backup for Adobe to restore from.
Adobe acknowledged the issue quickly, releasing the 5.4.1 update a day later. But for those that lost their photos, and didn’t have a backup of them elsewhere, they’re gone for good. There’s no way to get them back.
“We are aware that some customers who updated to Lightroom 5.4.0 on iPhone and iPad may be missing photos and presets that were not synced to the Lightroom cloud,” wrote Rikk Flohr, an official representative on Adobe’s forums. “Installing version 5.4.1 will not restore missing photos or presets for customers affected by the problem introduced in 5.4.0. We know that some customers have photos and presets that are not recoverable. We sincerely apologize to any customers who have been affected by this issue.”
Why didn’t Adobe have a backup?
While this might be an issue with syncing, the fact that some users lost their entire library is befuddling. Why didn’t Adobe had a complete backup of a user’s photographs? If you’re pushing cloud storage and even mention in interviews that it takes care of backing up your photos … wouldn’t it make sense to have a backup of those photos somewhere?!?
Sure, you can ask users why they didn’t have backups of their photos, and that’s a valid point. However, Adobe positions Lightroom to be a cloud storage and backup solution, so users don’t have to worry about losing their photos. It states so right on the Photography page on adobe.com: “Your photos and edits are backed up to the cloud, and organization and search are a snap.”
Lightroom needs local storage options like it was yesterday
The fact that Adobe keeps pushing Lightroom users to use cloud storage is the problem here. While Lightroom should certainly offer cloud storage, it needs to offer local storage as a default option, too.
Sure, there’s Lightroom Classic that gives a traditional way to manage photos locally. But it’s painfully slow at times, long in the teeth and has an extremely cluttered interface that many photographers don’t appreciate.
This is the biggest thing holding back Lightroom from being adopted by professionals. Period.
Adobe needs to start listening to its audience of photographers, and offer a default local storage option, with cloud as a backup. The implementation currently doesn’t satisfy anyone with a giant photo library. Make it so that all your photos live locally, and your most recent photos (depending on your storage plan) are backed up to the cloud automatically and visible on cloud-based devices. That would solve this problem immediately.
Until that happens, Lightroom will never be adopted by pros. Instead they’ll stick with Lightroom Classic, a program that has recently felt like Adobe’s evil stepchild due to its lack of attention (compared to Lightroom). Or … they’ll go elsewhere and choose a program that fits their needs better.