Aperture Tricks – All About Apple Aperture

July 24, 2006

Extending Your Aperture Library Across Multiple Volumes

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 12:11 pm

I’ve seen several sites lately where people are suggesting various schemes for spreading out your Aperture Library across multiple volumes. This in response to one of Aperture’s greatest perceived weaknesses. . . the Library (the container where your images are stored) must reside on a single hard disk. And you can’t have more than one Library open at a time, nor can you easily switch between Libraries without shutting Aperture down, and launching again from the new Library.

So it was only a matter of time before some smart folks figured out ways to get around this limitation and offer volume-spanning utilities, scripts and other tricks that let you spread your Aperture Library over more than one hard disk.

So you might expect that coming up, I’ll provide you with one such trick or link to others but I won’t and here’s why. I think it’s a bad idea.

Since I run this site, I receive a fair amount of e-mail regarding Aperture. And almost once a week I hear from someone who’s had a tragedy (or near miss) while futzing with the Library, trying to span multiple physical or logical volumes.

There are several potential problems with some of the existing volume spanning schemes. Here are just two. The first is performance. We all know that Aperture is always pushing the envelope when it comes to system resources. Aperture is a power hungry, RAM hungry, GPU hungry application that wants all it can get and more. When you load it down with an extra large Library, you tax the system to the point that at best, the user experience is poor and at worst, it breaks.

Beyond the performance issues are those related to the Vault. I can tell you from first hand experience that I’ve broken more Aperture Vault’s by trying to volume span than I care to count. Once you have your files spread out all over the landscape on multiple disks, it becomes harder and harder for the Vault to do its job. For me, the Vault is one of the best reasons to use Aperture. When the system is operated as intended, the Vault works to make sure you have a good backup of all your pictures. I’ve used the Vault in an emergency situation and it saved my bacon. I believe in its approach. If you start spreading out your Library, you may well see problems with your Vault and accordingly, your bacon may not be saved as was mine.

What’s the solution? You can have more than one Library in Aperture. You just can’t have more than one Library open at one time. For now, while less than satisfying, it’s a safe way to segment large amounts of imagery and it’s way to guarantee best performance.

Apple is working on a solution to this problem. In fact, I expect some form of relief in the 1.5 or 2.0 Aperture release. Until then, unless you are a very talented programmer or literal OSX wizard, be careful of volume-spanning schemes.


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