How to use my SSDs for fast external photo library

I received some 800GB SSDs from a friend and want to connect them to my MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015). I want to use them for my photo library (using Adobe Lightroom), which is 500 GB.

The Mac has Thunderbolt 2 ports. I got a Thunderbolt 3 4-bay enclosure (Akitio Thunder3 Quad Mini Thunderbolt3 4-Bay Enclosure). Then I had to get a Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter, then I needed a Thunderbolt cable. Unfortunately, I find the enclosure is noisy and frankly, overkill. Am into this for about $400 not counting the SSDs. So I am looking to start over with a more sensible solution.

What’s the best way to make one or more of these SSDs accessible for Lightroom use?

  • Would like it to be fast but Thunderbolt seems difficult and expensive; maybe I should just use USB 3 and call it a day?

  • For the photo library, I use a USB 3 external enclosure now with a compact hard disk drive (Seagate 2 TB Slim) and it’s pretty good; so I know the SSD will be faster; just not sure if Thunderbolt will give me enough advantage to be worth it.


TIA, y’all!!

Are these SATA SSDs?

Yes. 800 GB, 6 GB/s SATA SSD, 2.5". (Micron M500DC)

Is your photo library 500 gb or that’s the size of your photo files?

BTW i store one (little) photo library and the photos (about 50 gb total I guess) on a spinning 2.5" HDD originally in a 2011 MacBook Pro and now in an usb 3 enclosure ant it works fine…

I don’t think that you will see al lot of improvement with the SSD

It’s my understanding that your Lighroom catalog, cache and previews will benefit from being on a fast drive (probably your boot drive) while the actual photo files can be on an external, with the difference between spinning/SSD or Thunderbolt/USB 3 not being very important.

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It depends on which internal HDD his MBP has. If it’s ssd chanches are that is way faster of any external solution.

If he has enough space on it he should be able to keep the LR catalog on the internal HDD and the files on the external one.

It might even deepend on which version of LR he’s using (in the past few months Lightroom Classic CC has been optimized and is way faster than before, as far as i can tell).

Another trick might be to use another external ssd as a repository for LR’s cache.

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Thanks for the answers.

I have migrated the Aperture library to Lightroom (which took days!) and am experimenting with settings for speed. @Timo’s and @memex’s advice looks really good – am experimenting now with settings. So far, seems pretty quick. The Catalog is on my SSD inside the MBP; the photos are on an external SSD on USB 3.0. That’s without any optimization.