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I’m Surprised at How Much Lightroom ‘Cloud’ Is Still Missing After All This Time

So, I’m working on a course for KelbyOne, which would be a special version of my ‘SLIM’ system (my Simplified Lightroom Image Management system) just for folks using the ‘cloud’ version of Lightroom. And while there are parts of my system I can skip altogether (thanks to the cloud backup in the cloud version), there are a number of parts, organizational-wise, that you still can’t do in “cloud.” In fact, I’m surprised at how many things still haven’t made their way from Classic over to the ‘cloud’ version of Lightroom after all this time.

Yes, Adobe has added some of the missing features since the cloud version launched back in 2017 (yes, it’s been that long), and the editing photos part of ‘cloud’ is getting close to being in parity with what you have in Classic, but there is just still so much it can’t do once you get outside of editing, and preparing this class was yet another reminder of how far it still has to go (and yet, it costs twice the monthly price because you need to pay for cloud storage, and I know what you’re thinking, 1TB is not NEARLY enough. More on that in a moment).

In fact, it would probably be more accurate to stop referring to this version as “Lightroom cloud” and use a more accurate name, “Lightroom Lite.” But I get it – Lightroom ‘lite’ is for a different crowd. One that doesn’t print. One that doesn’t need tethering. One that doesn’t have a real need for Metadata. One that doesn’t do client-based work. Maybe I should just call it what it is; it’s “Lightroom mobile,” and oh yeah, there’s a desktop version of this mobile Lightroom app, too.

I would love it if there was a switch in Lightroom Classic I could flip, that would give me auto-backup of my high-resolution images to the cloud. Yes, I know, I would have to pay for it. I already have flipped a switch that backs up my entire high res photo library to the cloud, but it’s (a) to Backblaze’s cloud, and (b) it’s only $5 a month for unlimited storage (well, technically it’s $5.83 per month), and it works like a boss.

Get Ready For Some Shocking Numbers

If I flipped that switch in Lightroom and backed up my 12TB of photos to Adobe’s cloud (instead of Backblaze) using Adobe’s current pricing (I just verified the pricing with Adobe sales), it would cost me about $204.00 per month just for the storage (that’s $2,448.00 per year just for storage), because they only let you buy 10TB or 20TB and nothing in-between. There is no 12TB plan. No 15TB. No 18TB. Just ten or 20TB.

So, if I decided just to put “most” but not all of my photos in Adobe’s ‘cloud’ and just bought the 10TB plan, then I could get away with paying $102 a month to Adobe for storage or just $1,224.00 per year. Just as a reference, that is more than every $100 bill in that photo above per year. For storage.

Or, of course, I could just pay Backblaze $5 a month as I do now (that’s $60 per year). So, essentially Adobe is charging around 20-times as much for cloud storage as Backblaze. Maybe I don’t want that switch in Lightroom Classic after all.

I’m surprised Adobe doesn’t offer an unlimited storage plan like Backblaze. Well, if they’re charging $2,500 per year for 20TB, I’m scared even to ask what that might look like.

I guess what I’m really saying is, “Today, I realized I’m even happier using Lightroom Classic than I thought. It’s $10 a month, it has a TON of features Lightroom Lite still doesn’t have, and I get Photoshop, and Lightroom mobile included, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff that comes with my subscription (like Adobe Portfolio and Creative Cloud Express, and more), and if I pay Backblaze $5 a month all my photos are automatically backed up to the cloud.”

Have a great weekend. 🙂

-Scott

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12 comments

  1. Michael 1 February, 2022 at 10:09 Reply

    Thanks a lot for this interesting post. Has anybody tried to get data from backblaze to your computer? How long does it take to load back 2Tb, for example? Thanks, Michael

    • Henry Heerschap 12 February, 2022 at 21:20 Reply

      We still don’t know how it happened, but we lost about a year and a half’s worth of my wife’s photos a couple of years ago. It was close to a terabyte. I used BackBlaze’s feature where they’ll send you an external hard drive with the needed files. I copied everything over and sent them the drive back. No extra charge. I’ve recovered smaller amounts at different times and was able to download the files. They support versioning so you can go back a number of months to find older files.
      We have nearly 20 Tb backed up. I’m a big fan.

  2. John H 28 January, 2022 at 20:27 Reply

    I use your SLIM system exactly as you teach it. To the letter. It has made my photo life so well-organized, I can’t thank you enough.
    And thanks for updating your LR Classic book, I just got my hardcopy and will be taking it on vacation next week.

  3. Brian 28 January, 2022 at 17:13 Reply

    I don’t think the Lr Classic features will ever be in CC, the two are based around different workflows. CC cannot be considered a full replacement, and probably was never intended to be one.

    CC is all about the cloud sync and mobile, whereas Classic is suited for a full production workflow start to finish and long term catalog management. They both use the same ACR module, so it’s really just two interfaces optimized for different users. The CC desktop version has no value as far as I’m concerned due to its limitations and the way it manages its catalog, and if using the cloud storage it’s better to just sync a Classic catalog with cloud instead of trying to mess with CC. The CC phone and tablet versions, though, are pretty good for what they do and have been really useful.

    I mostly use CC as a temporary workspace so that I have access from my iPad and phone, and for easy preview distribution through the web albums. It’s been great for event work so I can have quick edits already available before even leaving. The web albums are just functional enough to be absolutely useless for collecting ratings/feedback since none of the comments or stars make it back to the Lightroom UI in an easily accessible way, but it at least gets the photos to a client in real time without mucking about in Dropbox or Google drive.

    CC in all its forms has terrible photoshop integration, so anything needing more than just the raw processor I export and do elsewhere. Usually Affinity since it has its full feature set on tablets. Photoshop mobile is just missing too much functionality. So far the only ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL feature missing in CC for that part of my workflow is virtual copies, with key wording and other catalog search supporting features a very close second. Their representatives on the support forums get very defensive about whenever virtual copies are brought up and insist that the “versions” feature is a superior replacement, but the two features are for completely different purposes and don’t solve the same problems.

    On the other end, my desktop setup has a “proxy” Classic catalog with cloud sync turned on so that everything done remote in CC makes it to Classic. This works fine going from CC to Classic, but the reverse is problematic since in defiance of all reason and common sense only the smart previews are uploaded via cloud sync. That’s ok for a lot of things, but loses too much resolution for the photos to be usable in Photoshop edits after they sync from classic to CC. Fortunately nothing is lost in the CC to Classic direction, so field edits on mobile all make it to the main catalog. Once everything is in Classic the only uses I see for CC are convenience in remote editing work (iPad with Apple Pencil is really nice for the new masking system) and the web albums. Those lose their value when the edits are done, so once a project is over and everything is back on Classic I export it all from the sync catalog to whichever one is most appropriate and delete it all out of CC to reclaim the storage space. All the final processing, exports, print prep, etc is then done in Classic.

    So I guess both have their uses, but aside from the raw processor itself really aren’t the SAME uses, and Adobe’s marketing department should really stop confusing everyone by trying to pretend that they are.

  4. Jerry 28 January, 2022 at 14:51 Reply

    This is very timely. After watching the Grid with the On1 rep this week, I was thinking about buying the plug-in, but then realized that it doesn’t work with Lightroom desktop (or “Lite” as you call it). Adobe seems to be keeping Lightroom Classic alive until they can slowly bring Lightroom lite up to parity, so I don’t want to invest in Classic any longer. It would be great to have a completely cloud-based workflow, but the cost and feature set are holding me back. I really appreciate you writing this post, it articulated a lot of my frustrations.

  5. John Fitzpatrick (Grumpyhighlander) 28 January, 2022 at 08:45 Reply

    I’m using the cloud based photographer package. Triple backed up on external drives, backblaze and Dropbox. I have only ever known the cloud version as I jumped into photography with clients and it Hana’s been the simplest way to share work to editors, publishers and private clients with the ability to create a private link to edited sessions and albums. The revenue generated is totally worth the cost. My question Wouk s be is there a way to do this with the classic version? I would love to reduce overheads but can’t see an easy way to use classic in this way.

    • Mitch 29 January, 2022 at 21:35 Reply

      Worst case scenario, after syncing a collection to the cloud (which only sends smart previews and don’t count against the 20GB on the $10/mo plan), go over to Lightroom Lite and do what you’re used to doing now with the album. But I’m pretty sure you can do it all with LrC and maybe a quick settings tweak in a web browser and no need for Lightroom Lite.

  6. Mark Casebeer 28 January, 2022 at 08:13 Reply

    I also use Backblaze, and it’s fantastic and easy! I’m not complaining too much as the Adobe Photographers Plan is fantastic. I think like many other users the main reason we don’t use the mobile, lite, or whatever you want to call it, is the cloud price, and missing features. For me, the desktop version has the tools I need. The new version is the best yet!

    • Scott Kelby 28 January, 2022 at 14:00 Reply

      Hi, Rob. If you look on their site (I just did) there is a $70 per year plan for unlimited storage for personal accounts (that’s technically $5.83, so it is slightly higher than when I bought it, so maybe I’m grandfathered in, but either way – I’ll update the post). If you get their two-year plan, it’s right around $5 a month. Hope that helps.

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