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Saturday, August 11, 2012

How to speed up Lightroom 4

Ever since the new year I've switched over to doing most of my editing in Adobe Lightroom 4. I loved Lightroom 3, and Lightroom 4 was even more amazing. The new 2012 processing engine is incredible, from the ridiculous highlight recovery latitude, to the noise reduction that still keeps the details. But, like a lot of people, everything slowed... way... down. It took several seconds after clicking a slider for the updated image to show up. So I tried a bunch of things to help speed it up, after all, I spend a good chunk of time editing after weddings and such so any little increase would yield huge benefits for my free time! Hopefully these little tips will help everyone else speed up Lightroom 4.

how to speed up lighroom 4 tutorial

First a little background. I'm (unlike almost every other photographer) a PC user. I built my own custom photo editing PC a few years ago, so that will be the basis for this tutorial. Sure it's not state of the art anymore, but it should be able to power though the raw files from my Nikon D4! Don't worry, some of these tweaks will work on a Mac too, but I can't put all the specific details here, because I don't have one. Also, perform these tweaks at your own risk. I haven't had any issues but I can't guarantee you won't.

Here's a quick summary of the things I've tried and their rough results:

  • Putting the Lighroom Cache File on a SSD: 5-10% Improvement
  • Turning off automatic write to XMP Option in Catalog Settings: No noticeable improvement, although others say it has really helped
  • Changing BIOS Memory Option from Turbo to Extreme: 20-30% Improvement
  • Renaming Lightroom Preferences File: 20-50% Improvement, others have said more
  • Overclocking Computer: Can help with performance, but I've never tried mine in a non-overclocked setting to judge the difference
  • Create a New Catalog: 5-10% Performance
  • Allocating More Memory to the Cache File: No noticeable improvement

I would say overall I've probably gotten Lightroom 4 to be roughly 50% faster, most notably in the brushes and slider responsiveness. Still not as fast as I would like it, but definitely a noticeable improvement. Note: I still haven't figured out a way to make the program launch faster, elimate the delay in flipping from one photo to the next in the Develop Module, or eliminate the delay the very first time you adjust a slider on an image. If anyone has figured this out, please send me a message!

Anyways on to the good stuff! In order of goodness:

Renaming the Lightroom Preferences File: 20-50% Improvement

For Windows 7/Vista:

1. Hit Start and type in "%appdata%"
2. Open the Adobe Folder
3. Open the Lightroom Folder
4. Open the Preferences Folder
5. Rename the "Lightroom 4 Preferences.agprefs" file to something else (like "old_lightroom 4 preferences.agprefs")

6. Restart Lightroom

Most likely this will have killed a few of your preferences, but you can always go back in and change them. If you go back into your Preferences folder you will notice that Lighroom has created a new Preferences File. I'm not sure why this improves the performance so much, but hey, I'm not gonna complain! Note: This may need to be done every few months to keep the performance improvement, but I haven't tested things that far yet. If this doesn't help feel free to go back and rename your old file and delete the next one Lightroom created.

If your on a Mac, I'm sure the same tweaks will work, but I'm not sure if this file is located in a different directory than on Windows. I'll update this if someone can confirm this with me.

Changing the BIOS Memory Option from Turbo to Extreme: 20-30% Improvement

Note this is an option only for Gigabyte motherboards. There may be a similar setting available from other motherboard manufactures, but your on your own for that.

1. Boot into your BIOS (on my computer you restart and press delete frequently before the computer boots to windows)
2. Go to MB Intelligent Tweaker

3. Go to Advanced Memory Settings

4. Under Performance Enhance change the option to "Extreme"

I'm not exactly sure what this is changing inside the computer (all my clock settings remained the same) but whatever it did, performance was noticeably improved. I haven't noticed any stability issues in the past week of having this setting changed either.

If your on a Mac, I doubt the fine people at Apple have something like this for you to change, but let me know if there is so I can add it to this!

Creating a New Lighroom Catalog: 5-10% Improvement

1. Open up Lightroom
2. Go to File -> New Catalog

Over time Lighroom Catalog's get clogged up with all the information about your files. Creating a new one from time to time, especially if you are a heavy user, can improve responsiveness.

Putting your Lightroom Cache on a Solid State Drive (SSD): 5-10% Improvement

Note, in order for this to work you must have a solid state drive in your computer. If you don't have one or don't have a clue what that is just skip to the next tip.

1. Open up Lighroom
2. Go to Edit --> Preferences
3. Click on the File Handling Tab

4. Under the Camera Raw Cache Settings, change the location to be on your solid state (most likely C: Drive)

Allocating More Memory to the Cache File:

1. Open up Lighroom
2. Go to Edit --> Preferences
3. Click on the File Handling Tab
4. Under the Camera Raw Cache Settings increase the cache file size (see above screenshot). I have mine at 20GB.

Some people have reported this helps, I personally haven't noticed a difference.

Overclocking Computer:

I'm not going to go into a lot of details here, because there are a lot of great resources else ware on the internet. This can damage your computer if you don't know what your doing but it can improve performance of your entire computer across the board.

Turning off automatic write to XMP Option in Catalog Settings: 

All the Adobe teachers say to do this to improve performance, but I just haven't seen a big difference. I have gotten the warning that Lightroom isn't finished writing the .xmp files when I go to exit after a lot of editing, and I imagine this will fix that issue if that bothers you. Note: you will need to manually save your .xmp files if you want the changes to be visable out of lightroom.

1. Open up Lightroom
2. Go to Edit --> Catalog Settings
3. Under the Metadata Tab, Uncheck "Automatically write changes to XMP"

Alright well I hope that at least one of those tips has helped you speed up Lightroom 4! If anyone has more tips, or wants to add in Mac specific instructions, feel to add them in the comments below.