Is Lightroom Running Slow for You?

January 26th, 2017

Reed in MO recently asked:

The complaints about Adobe Lightroom get a little louder. I’ve been feeling this pain, too – are the folks here experiencing the same slowness?  See this article.

I have 2 – SSD’s and 64 gb of ram on an I7 with an iNvidia 1070 video card – pretty close to top of the line for everything. It takes easily two minutes per photo for light edits and applying presets. I thought there was a problem with my old computer with just one SSD and 16 gb of ram because LR had slowed down so badly, so I built the new one; only to be quickly disappointed with LR performance.

Slowness is relative. My experience with Lightroom is that it hasn’t slowed down with the updates over the last few years. Is it smoking fast? Not really! About 4 years ago I just decided to run it on the fastest hardware available: 16 or 32 GB of RAM, SSD drives and the fastest I7 I can get my hands on every couple of years. I just don’t expect blazing speed out of it since it’s never been fast. But on the other hand, I don’t see it being any slower than it’s ever been.

If you google “Lightroom slowness” there are a lot of articles over time on how to optimize Lightroom. For example, here and here.

What are others experiences?

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35 Responses to “Is Lightroom Running Slow for You?”

  • I can definitely relate to the brutal slowness. I ended up buying a new laptop partly because my ’11 iMac was running so slowly, yet it would happily plow through an hour of multicam in Final Cut without thinking about it.

    Starting to look at other options but really nothing has the tools from old LR5, which did run great.

  • It SUCKS! It runs way too slow and the more you do to an image the slower it runs. I’ve tried all the optimizing tricks and none of them help. I have a new iMac 27″ with 24gb of ram. I’ve been trying to switch to ON1 Photo Raw but it doesn’t have all the features that Lightroom. Although they keep adding more every so often, so it’s only a matter of time before I quit using Lightroom altogether. Calling Adobe is no help, either. All you get is some foreigner with an arrogant attitude. The last time I called, they told me I had too many images in my catalog and would have to delete some????? (it didn’t help). Isn’t that the point of using Lightroom? You loose all the settings for those images when you do that. The local adjustment brush is poorly designed and doesn’t work very well, either. I find I spend way too much time trying to make it work so I almost never use it. The grid gets stuck sometimes when you use the transform panel (not to mention that the auto vertical is almost always incorrect). Over the years it’s become very bloated and slow. Adobe needs to wake up and pay attention to it’s customers or they will go the way of other software companies that didn’t listen to their users.

  • A word of warning about On1 raw. I was using it on my macbook pro. The machine froze up and would not reboot. Thought the machune had died. Bought a new imac 27″ and after a few days, had exactly the same problem! After spending much time on the phone with Apple, and entering a number of linux commands, we were able to get BOTH machines running again. Turns out the On1 crashes screwed up the machines ability to reboot.

    They are working on stability issues and I can confirm it is NOT stabile and can cause some real problems.

    Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper after buying a computer I didn’t need. I’m staying away from On1 raw and haven’t had any problems since.

  • I’m definitely also encountering some serious slowdown in Lightroom’s 2015.8 update.

    After +/- 20 minutes of editing, tasks like ‘spot removal’ & ‘white balance selector’ slows down considerably (at some stages even a short screen blackout) – it’s as if memory is leaked the longer you work on Lightroom.
    I create 1:1 previews and I’m also using a Core i7 PC, with 32GB Ram & a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 380X graphics card – so it shouldn’t be a hardware problem.

    Another annoying (especially for a real estate & architectural photographer! ; ) change I found, is that the vertical perspective correction, is not working as well, as in the previous release.

  • I haven’t been using Lightroom in some time after noticing it was becoming very slow. I’ve been using Bridge and ACR with no issues. I actually prefer it since I don’t use Lightroom’s catalog feature.
    ACR AND Bridge might be a good alternative, even if temporary, for those having major issues with Lightroom.

  • Interesting timing on this post. Three nights ago I was working to get a wedding album completed using the book module. Lr came to a crawl and further work was nearly insufferable. The slowness affected the develop module as well. I pressed on and did get the work done but afterwards I checked in at Lu-La and asked about slowness issues using Windows 10 and the 2015.8 release. I received a number of suggestions including a complete re-load of Lr. None of the suggestions made any immediate performance improvement. However, over the next two days the extraordinary slowness I had been seeing went away and Lr went back to a more normal speed of operation. I have no explanation for this behavior. I suspect it is more than an issue with Lr – there must be OS factors as well.

  • I also wrote a letter to Adobe a few years back. They added me to their private beta team so I can help shape the future of the software. Except, so many people in the beta forum have slowness and Adobe hasn’t addressed it so much. It’s definitely gotten faster since my letter. But not nearly as it should be, compared to its competition.

  • I didn’t want to switched from a PC and have to learn another operating system. But everyone in the graphics world told me that the MAC would be faster, a beautiful display, and had a more stable OS. So I contacted Apple who offered me a special price for disabled veterans, to build me a 27″i-MAC with a fast graphic card and 16GB or Ram. I loaded Lightroom which ran blazingly faster than my PC, at first. After a few months and adding more programs it became slower. I increased my RAM to 32 GB which made it faster, But again, it has slowed down. I tried allocating more RAM 12GB in the “camera Cache setting” but don’t see any difference.

    But now, I am experiencing a strange thing in Lightroom and wanted to know if anyone else is experiencing this too. sometimes when I’m in the edit mode, and go into Photomatix (or some other program) then click back into Lightroom again, Lightroom goes back into the editing screen, but I lose the editing panels and don’t know how to get them back, without quitting Lightroom and re starting the program.
    anyone know what command brings back the editing panels?

    Years ago, we used to use ADCSee for our jpg images, which was fast and easy to use, and you could stretch and image without anyone noticing it. but it was not available for MAC. now, here is a MAC beta version. for anyone who wishes to try it.

  • There used to be a plug in that was placed on the top that was a relaunch button that could be used when light room started slowing down. You can still do manually. That worked for the most part, but now it seems to have disappeared after all the cc updates. I have also changed my work flow to take everything through PS for finishing and only doing the minimum in LR. Photoshop tools like dodge, burn and healing are far better.

  • I have not experienced the slow downs that other are talking about, and although I can’t for certain why, there are some settings that I use after having picked up some tips from various sources on the internet.
    For instance, in my Preferences under the Performance tab, I have checked Use Smart Previews instead of Originals for image editing. These are now generated during import.
    I also set my Camera Raw Cache settings on the File Handling tab to 40GB.

  • I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one having LR issues. When I start out fresh editing my RE HDR images it works great, but usually after processing around 20 to 25 4-5 image sets things start getting slow as molasses! Even selecting an image and waiting for a preview gets painfully slow. I too have a smoking hot, almost brand new PC that’s optimized for engineering CAD software, and it’s made practically no difference from my previous setup. The only thing that works for me to speed things back up, as much as I hate to do it, is a re-start of the computer. FWIW, one thing I’ve found that seems to help hold off the agony somewhat is leaving LR in the “Library” module (rather than the “Develop” module) while doing the initial HDR processing. After I’ve done that, I then restart my computer to finish off my color corrections and transforming where necessary.

  • I run SSD/32 GB RAM, and the speed for editing is just fine. If it does bog down I reboot and all is well again. What I find completely unacceptable is trying to create slideshow from edited images. It is unbelievably slow in this module and I’m at my wits end when working on these. The interface is great, but the ability to preview is horrendous. There must be a flaw to cause this issue.

  • A big part of lightroom’s sluggishness is the enormous catalog it keeps in RAM. Try creating a new catalog every now and again, perhaps monthly. You’ll find an improvement in speed for sure!

  • Not sure if this would help, but I remove folders in my catalog that are just basic RE shoots and only keep important architecture and portraiture shoots. I don’t have any issues with speed at all. Every now and then the computer will get a bug up its butt, but that’s easily fixed with a restart.

  • Howdy,

    Hopefully what worked for me, will work for you.

    I went through the same pains. Increasingly slow. Shut it down, relaunch (or even reboot), better (a bit) for a while, but inside 30 minutes, if that, it’d be right back where it was. Was never maxing out RAM, storage, or CPU. Moved from conventional drives to hybrid. No improvement. Tons of research and, at the time, felt like I was a weirdo since so few others else seemed to concede to having the issue.

    One article I read discussed how Lr makes extensive use of scripts behind the scenes. That translates to a lot of file i/o. So what I did, what get a small 240GB SSD, made it my drive Z:, and pointed my TEMP/TMP and similar variables all to Z:. Anything even remotely related to Lr in a temp-type function, I shunted over to Z:. Instantaneous resolution that’s been persistent for 18 months now.

    At like $100 (at the time) it was a cheap experiment that paid huge dividends.

  • I have AfterShot Pro 3 (The Corel raw editor product. I also use PaintShop Pro X9). I couldn’t be happier with AfterShot Pro 3. It is fast, non-destructive in edits, and allows group parameter changes to any or all files in a folder. That way I can apply the basic changes to all the files I have tagged, and then tweak individual images as needed. Give it a look.

  • To keep LR running fast, create a new catalog for each property shoot.


  • Lightroom has become incredibly slow. I can edit gigantic images and video in Photoshop, but switch back to LR and ugh! I’m running a SSD drive with 32G of RAM so that’s not the issue. The issue is that LR is non-destructive and based on database commands. This means that it has to recalculate all the commands every time you move a slider. Do edit 8 and it has to do 1-8. Move another slider and now it has to perform 1-9.

    One thing I’ve found is that I create a “working” empty catalog. Work on that which seems to speed things up and then I export that collection as a catalog and then import it to my main library. The photos don’t move, just the DB commands.

  • I won’t tolerate it. I wonder if many people who feel it’s slow above are even running ps with it. It gets even worse then. It seems a lot of commenters are having to take steps to make it run fast too, which sounds like a slow process in itself. I can do everything I need to in bridge, acr and ps anyway.

  • I’m running the latest version of Lightroom on an almost 5 year old PC (i5 core, 16 GB RAM, two 1 TB HDs in a RAID 1 array and a fast video card). Haven noticed any slowdown in the past 5 years.

  • One trick is to apply sharpening and noise reduction at the END of your workflow. That should help a few of you out. It really is an amazing program that does a lot of things on the fly. All of those things you do to the photos need to be rendered on your preview image. So think about how long different edits/tools would take to use in Photoshop and try to adjust your automation/workflow to do the heavy lifting at the end.

    Also open and close often. Seems to help on my end.

  • JT Pederson – can you elaborate on where the settings for the TEMP/TMP are? I, too, have a second SSD and I already use it for Photoshop’s cache and the Lr camera raw cache setting. Even though this is only a 120GB SSD, there is lots of space there as this is its only purpose.

    I’ve also noted that several people commented that Lr starts to slow down over a period of time and that a restart or reboot and restart helps. This is consistent with what I have been recently experiencing, although during the book module disaster the other night, the slow down would start in about five minutes. Now Lr seems healthy again and I have no idea why it was so awful earlier.

  • Lightroom is a monster program. The catalog, editing and file uploading all add overhead. It you are not happy with the speed, instead of using a single monster program, separate out the different features. The catalog can easily be done with structured folders, editing with Photoshop and actions and uploads with Filezilla. Yes, you are using 3 programs, but the time saving can more than make up for it.

  • JD – Being the impatient type, I poked around on the web and figured out how to move my temp folder over to the underused SSD. I still have 40GB available on the main SSD, so I’m not sure if this will have much impact but it can’t hurt. I also increased Lr’s cache size to 20GB. Right now Lr is running about as fast as you could want it to with essentially no lag on any of the functions. I guess I’ll need to wait and see how it does with a more exhaustive session.

  • I create a new catalog for every shoot which keeps everything clean and blazing fast. I also have the catalogs and cache each configured to their own SSDs. The only time I experienced any slowdown with this setup is when I switched to Sony A7RII which has much larger files. My workflow is to import to LR, do lens corrections, export to TIFF, run TIFFs thru Photomatix, import TIFFs to LR, create a collection and work on the TIFFs there, export JPGs for delivery. Even with my TIFF files being 120+mb EACH, LR is still very fast.

    Oh and after the JPGs are delivered to the client I delete all the TIFF and RAW files!!

  • Adobe Camera Raw has all the exact same editing capabilities as Lightroom.

    Before shooting Real Estate I worked in wine packaging for over twenty years..

    Before computers we would create printing plates from photographic films that were stored in big folders.

    The trick with wine packing is that each year, the new labels would most times just need changes to to a few films (typically the black plate) with the new vintage and updated details.

    So we kept a record of where films we stored on a cross referenced index card system (just like the old days in a library where you would find your book on cards using the Dewey system). we could easily retrieve films from previous years, do our changes and make new sets of printing plates quickly and efficiently.

    In 1995 we started using computers to do it digitally, so we thought long and hard about how to organise our files to give us the same ease of retrieval.

    Instead of folders to store films, we used a structured tiered folder system for our digital media which gave us the same cross referencing ability as those little boxes of cards.

    The files back then were archived to media such as CDs and we used a cheap title program called CDFinder to catalog all the files.

    The result was that up until about 5 years ago when I was still doing part time work for that company, I could find something I worked on in 1995 in less than a couple of minutes. Having the right program to open those old files was another story! That’s the beauty of photos because those old Photoshop 3 files would still open just fine in the new Photoshop.

    I’ve been doing Real Estate for 9 years now and I use the same techniques for my real estate shoots — I can drag out any shoot off one of the archive drives that are all cataloged with CDFinder in just a few minutes (well all except for a small period of three months a few years ago when my then 5 year old son got entangled in the cables and sent a hard drive flying off the desk — it’s annoying how often I need files from that three month period!)

    The point is, the database of Lightroom can easily be replicated other ways.

    I actually prefer not to be tied up to having all the records of my files in one proprietary database.

    Adobe Camera Raw (or similar programs like ADC Raw) and a cheap cataloging program.

    I still use Lightroom for some tasks (like exporting final images), and I use it to manage my location shots where keywording can be advantageous but for general real estate I would’t bother with it.

  • Agree completely with Charles regarding catalogs. Programs come and go. If you tie yourself to one, it’s hard to switch because your file structure is tied in. I use my own which starts with type, then year, then property address (for real estate) or by month (for personal). It’s very easy for me to find anything all the way back to 2002.

  • If LR is slow, it’s not your hardware or the program. It’s your settings. I want to say it has to do with your Camera Raw Cashe preferences. Purge the cashe, and limit the amount to 1GB.

    When it’s slow, it’s because it’s loading up your memory with too many previews.

  • although, many people are recommending just the opposite, raising the cashe to 70GB. Find what works for you.

  • We notice this slow down immediatly when switching to CC when it came out as it need to be constantly connected to the adobe servers.

    Within days we switched back to a stable version of Lightroom 5.6.

    Our CPU for editing photos has is a Windows 10 system built by [they have brick and mortar stores] that is running 4 – 16 GB memory slots. With the ability to expand to 4 – 128gb. while also using a drobo for the actual storage of raws and processed files and any other data [floorplans, Osmo 4k video, rendered videos]. And also keeping NO DATA/FILES n the SSD drive that houses all Editing Software.

    Cache is KING. ramp it up.

    The current configuration is processing 10-30 properties per day and taking 18 seconds to process one photo from a 5 frame blend [each raw image is 25mb].

    We have also noticed that keeping ON1 10 running in the background can slow down lightroom during enfuse/blend of the properties
    Optimizing Lightroom in the morning/mid day and end of day.
    while also creating and new catalog every month.
    We do this due to our heavy workload every week with 5 photographers

    Moral of the story: Using the highest quality CPU setup is key to running a fast system and heavy workload.

  • a) Increase your ‘Camera Raw Cache Settings’ to more. I use 20 GB. Point to a fast drive, preferably a SSD other than your system/programs or work drive.
    You find these in Edit > Preferences > File Handling Tab

    b) Reduce the ‘Preview Cache Size’ to minimum that gives you good results. Start with 1024 and Low Preview Quality and go up slowly until you feel you start getting speed issues. You find these in Edit > Catalog Settings > File handling

    c) Make sure both ticks are checked in Edit > Preferences > performance

    If none of these work, then it’s time for a new machine. Get a quad core with the highest speed you can get. Getting a 6 core won’t speed up LR, so if this is just a Photo machine, Faster clock on quad CPU is recommended. Get 32 GB ram or more

  • Oh, one more thing that you can do is to apply a profile at import time, to not apply any sharpening and denoising. Just make sure you’re not forgetting to apply them later, once done with the images.

  • I have been using LR 5 on a 2013 MacBook Pro 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 16GB RAM and it has been pretty stable… it does make a huge difference on how lean one keeps the onboard HD… I try to always keep at least 140 to 200 GB free when working… sometimes using an external to work from if I have a lot of files that can’t me moved off… As space gets lower on your HD, Lightroom will start slowing as well. It is very Processor and memory intensive program, understandably so. Also, I use a new Catalogue for each day of shooting… so it will not bog down.

    I use extremely large files with my D800 and have found the full resolution and large files very convenient in a day of RE shooting, and I have noticed that compared to my older backup D90 12mp files, it is much slower but very usable. Now, I have definitely noticed that Lightroom CC runs a lot slower than LR5 so I have continued to use LR5 and will for as long as I can.

  • I actually can’t complain with Lightroom CC. My config: always updated, running on a mid 2015 Dell-Desktop-Computer with i7-4790 and 32 GB RAM but no SSD – nothing top-of-the-line – everything absolutely standard out of the box. (Okay, meanwhile OS updated to W10 and in Lr GPU disabled and cache set to 10 GB). Working with large catalogs of more than 50K photos (mostly 24 MPix from Nikon DSLRs) causes no problems. On heavy editing sessions Lr sometimes slowed down (after several hours of usage). What usually helped since Lr 4, was to simply shut down Lr and restart it again to run it for another long session. But haven’t had this behaviour since the last major Lr update.

  • As a follow up to this somewhat old thread, I recently solved the slowness issues I was having with my PC. The PC is running Windows 10 OS on a Core i 3770 CPU with two SSDs, two rotating drives and 16GB of RAM – more than enough power to run Lr or Photoshop. The slowness I experience was in the book module where, after about five minutes, the whole program would come to a crawl. Windows itself was impacted with the ability to save files slowed and other odd behaviors happening.

    As advised in this thread, I moved all of my temporary files over to my second SSD, a 120GB drive with no other data on it. This did not solve my book module problems. What did work was to remove AVG anti-virus and enable Windows Defender anti-virus. I set Defender to ignore the file C:user/name/local/adobe/lightroom, which means that neither the Lr catalog or the preview are ever scanned.

    Since doing this Lr is running very well with no issues in the book module or anywhere else.

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