Changing computers?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by david_henderson, Dec 28, 2021.

  1. david_henderson


    I have a Dell desktop running Windows 7 . I have about 50 000 photographs on there in Lightroom 5/DNG/backups in CR2. . I also have several thousand Tiffs from scans of older film work, and many jpegs/tiffs created from the Lightroom stuff. I use Photoshop CS6 and to a lesser extent old NIK software to edit all these images. It all works well enough but its old- maybe dangerously old. The photos are backed up onto external drives & at least one copy of everything is held off-site. The digital photographs have been made on Canon 10D/5D/5Dii/5Diii.

    I'm well overdue a change of computer/operating system. I may well go with another Dell desktop and Windows 10/11 and recycle my screen which was replaced a couple of years back. I'm aware that my old but working software is far from up-to-date & that it will have to be replaced - presumably by subscription versions- as it won't work with the newest incarnations of Windows.

    I have a feeling that I'm heading for a massive task and lots of decisions. So---

    What are the big tasks I face and in what order should I carry them out please? Naturally my desired end position is that I have all my photographs on a new machine, hopefully with a drive structure that mirrors the three internal drives and three external backups I have now and where all photographs and back-ups are accessible in and able to be edited in new versions of PS/LR/NIK. Am I right to feel daunted?
  2. Why replace software? Did you already switch to cameras that aren't supported? If not I 'd expect things to run smoother and swiftly on more capable newer hardware.
    bgelfand likes this.
  3. I built a new computer and went from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in December 2019, two years ago. I was, and still am, running Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS5 (the CS5 upgrade to CS2 to be exact). The DVD versions of Lightroom and Photoshop would not activate. I went to the Adobe website and opened a support ticket. Support asked me for my activation code/serial numbers and then sent me a link to download full installs of both Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 6. Those have been running just fine on my Windows 10 machine ever since. I agree with Jochen, unless you get a camera that is not supported by your versions of the Adobe software and do not want to go the DNG route, there is no reason to upgrade unless you want the latest functions. The major pieces of software that I changed were Microsoft Office and the Spyder calibration package.

    I am a retired System Programmer (mainframes); I have a different approach to upgrades and system installs.

    First sit down and make a check list of the steps you need to preform to install your application software and move your data. Decide where you want to put the data on your new system. Be sure to leave enough room to accommodate at least 3 to 5 more years of images. I would suggest a desk top computer with room for a minimum one NVMe drive and a minimum of two SATA drives, a few empty drive bays, an extra M2 slot, and enough power for expansion. I have the operating system and all software on the NVMe drive, my image files on a SATA SSD (a Crucial MX500), and a SATA HDD (a WD Black) for internal backups (Windows File History). I like to have media diversity as well as a separate physical drive for internal backups. Of course, I have an external SSD for daily backups via SyncToy and other external SSDs for offsite backups.

    My check list is 11 pages long; it took me a few days to write it, let it sit for a few days and a day to review it and make corrections. The install went without a hitch once I got the new packages from Adobe.
  4. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Your big decision seems to be: stick with very old Adobe software with a perpetual licence that may not even fully run (Mac guy; check this thoroughly) or subscribe to modern and upgradable Adobe software.
  5. I went from an old windows desktop to a new windows desktop in 2019. I agree that writing down all of the steps is needed and will be a big help.
    New windows 10/11 desktop? I would do win 10 pro 64 bit.
    Desktop case--tower
    Motherboard--make sure it has lots of fast ports: USB3.1; USB-C; Thunderbolt 3 or higher; and some slower USB ports too for keyboard and mouse.
    Main drive: 1 TB or 2 TB NVMe SSD, preferably Samsung 970 or 980.
    Data files: 2 or three HDD drives, each one large, like 12 TB or 18 TB. . Have desktop set up with ribbons so you can add anther drive if needed.
    RAM: at least 64 GB, with capacity for more
    Video card: Depending on your software you will need a good video card with dedicated RAM. 4 GB minimum, 8 GB Ram is better. Make sure it has the ports needed to support your monitor or monitors.
    Microprocessor--best you can afford
    Extra fans in the desktop to cool everything
    Have your new desktop built by someone like MicroCenter.

    Plan. Backup all of your image and data files. Two or three copies.
    Backup everything in your Downloads folder. Two copies to another external drive.
    Look for all of your license serial numbers for each application. Have these in a separate folder

    New desktop. Install each needed Program to C: drive as a fresh download. This way the process will identify needed drivers, etc.
    Launch each program and enter any needed license serial numbers
    Once that is all done, copy your new Downloads folder to another drive.
    Then start adding your data files by copying them from external hard drives or from the internal drives from your old desktop. (That is one reason why you want a free or open internal drive bay setup.) Copy files to one or more of the new internal HDD drives.

    That should give you the basic outline.
    invisibleflash likes this.
  6. I agree, there is nothing wrong with using
    if it is doing what you want done. Gone through a couple of computers & still using CS6. Unless you are a professional, there are probably parts of the program you don't use. I rarely go into Typography, 3D, or Motion.But that's me.

    If you are happy with what you got, why pay for something you don't need?
  7. I am still using old graphics software (Photoshop CS5 Extended), but on the fastest old computer on which it will still run.

    At some point, IMHO, you really need to bite the bullet and upgrade the works - really new hardware (revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary) deserves new software. Over the years I have done this multiple times, and while it's costly, the savings in aggro is really worth it.

    Of course, the old timers' rule - "Never get version 1.0 of anything" - applies.
    digitaldog likes this.
  8. I have zero dravings or paintings from lukio (finnish equivalent of high scool).
    I had like 53400 image files on my computer, but then I accepted that if I had not printed it in ten years, I would not be needing them anymore. Only prints and negatives will remain.

    Modern hardware is like 14 times faster than old spinning harddrives. My plan is to keep even obsolete hardware, but delete outdated files.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2021
  9. My perspective on building Windows systems from components ... don't. Been there, done that. I used to build business systems (servers, workstations), but a couple of decades ago, Dell, HP, et al, became competitive with price. The aggravation of replacing a failed component wasn't worth it when I could outsource that problem to the manufacturer. Careful shopping can get you a high-end workstation for a good price and if there are any issues, the manufacturer will fix it under warranty. My current workstation is a small form factor workstation ordered with a fast CPU, ports I needed on the motherboard, and minimal storage. I replaced the small NvME boot drive with 2T NvME drives and added memory. Haven't seen a need to upgrade the graphics yet. Works well for Adobe software. (BTW, I experienced a component failure which was replaced on-site the next day by the manufacturer).
  10. First, the OP clearly states he is running a Windows machine, not a Mac.

    Second, there is nothing wrong with "Old" software if it has the functions you need and even has the advantage that you are familiar with it. No need to buy more books and manuals.

    Third, why pay $120 per year for something you do not need. I have been running Lightroom 6 since 2017 and Photoshop CS5 since 2010. If you just count the Lightroom, so far, I have saved $600, less the initial cost of $145. If you start counting from the time I installed Photoshop CS5, I have saved over $1200. That does not count all the books and manuals I would have had to buy. That money does me more good in my pocket that it does me if I put it in Adobe's pocket. ;) So far, I have been able to do everything I want to do. When that is no longer the case, I'll update and start paying, and paying, and paying. :(
    invisibleflash likes this.
  11. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    If you've only imagined it, you haven't experienced it.
    You made a decision about using old software. The OP may have or not; I simply raise that question to him. His decision is fine with me.
    Are you telling us, all the software on your computer is the same vintage as CS5?
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2021
  12. True. It's also true that, often, when I upgrade to new software, I realize how much I appreciate new functions and increased speed which I didn't miss when I didn't know about them but am glad to have now that I do.
    digitaldog likes this.
  13. I’ve never needed to buy a new book or similar when upgrading software. The companies provide their own documentation, or it is easily available on the web. If I get a new lens or camera, or if a bug gets fixed, then an update is needed. New functions are often useful. But of course, you can do your own thing.
    digitaldog likes this.
  14. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    At least with respect to Adobe software (LR and Photoshop) more and more functionality is moving to the GPU each major release. This means far better performance and highly recommends getting the fastest GPU you can afford.
    Or yeah, stick with old software that doesn't.
  15. Is all my software the same vintage as CS5? No, some is much older. Examples - my Home Inventory suite and Camera Companion which downloads the shooting data from my F100 film camera. I first installed those programs on Windows 2000. I have to run the Inventory suite which uses Microsoft Jet database in XP compatibility mode; Camera Companion runs directly under Windows 10.

    I went back to my spreadsheet that made to list all the parts and software I need to purchase for my new system (coming from a 2010 Lynnfield based i-7 860 running Windows 7) going to a Ryzen 7 3800X running Windows 10 in December 2019.

    The only software I needed to purchase was:

    1) Windows 10 (obviously)
    2) Office 2019 (replacing Office 2007 which was no longer supported)
    3) Data Color Spyder X replacing Spyder 3 which would not work under Windows 10 according to Data Color. I took them at their word.

    All of these were perpetual license one-time purchases. And two years later they are all running quite nicely, without paying another cent.

    I have but two software packages that are subscription base - Kaspersky Anti-virus and Quicken. I use both of these daily; they are well worth the modest subscription costs.

    You wrote, "You made a decision about using old software. The OP may have or not; I simply raise that question to him."

    That is hardly what you did. In your reply to the OP in #4 (above). You wrote, "Your big decision seems to be: stick with very old Adobe software with a perpetual licence (sic) that may not even fully run (Mac guy; check this thoroughly) or subscribe to modern and upgradable Adobe software." You imply the software (Lightroom and Photoshop) will not run on his machine. They run quite well and even faster. At least they do on my machine and have for the past two years. (By the way, good use of FUD - Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt - sales 101 ;) )

    Nor is that his "big decision". He can always upgrade to the latest and greatest quite easily. Subscribe to the latest software and install it. Adobe does the rest converting from his old Adobe software files to the "modern and upgradable Adobe software". Adobe wants his money (every month); they make it easy.

    His big decisions are what hardware to purchase that will keep him running for another eight to ten years with only modest upgrades, such as new storage, and what hardware that he is keeping from his old machine, such as scanners, will need driver or utility updates, or replacement e.g., my Spyder 3.
  16. I won't get into the subscription/vs old perpetual license argument. It's not productive.

    I think the first choice you face is whether you really need all 50,000 photos on internal drives. Aren't there old ones you rarely if ever access? If not, why not store those on (backed up) external drives? It would make the new machine far cheaper and easier to spec out. that's bgelfand's point too: where do you want to put your data?

    I find it works fine to have two internal drives, an NvME SSD for speed, which holds the OS, all of my software, and small files, and a larger physical hard drive for storing images. However, my computer isn't new, and I haven't recently checked the price differences between SSDs and physical drives. It might be reasonable now to have only SSDs.

    Re graphics devices: I don't have the link, but Adobe posts a list of the features a graphics card needs to run all of the features in Photoshop. If you stick with an old version of the software, you can probably make do with less, as the most resource-hungry features seem to be new ones.

    If you are keeping your monitor, that eliminates one important and potentially expensive decision. Some good sRGB compliant monitors are inexpensive. Good wide-gamut monitors can be quite expensive. If you do a lot of printing, it's a worthwhile expense, IMHO. If you don't print much and display mostly online, it's a waste of money because you have to post images in sRGB to have them look right on most people's devices.
  17. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Thanks for proving exactly my point and my questions to the OP again.

    Don’t repeat yourself. It’s not only repetitive, it’s redundant, and people have heard it before." -Daniel Handler
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2021
  18. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    This is either an example of you answering your own (actual) question above, for solely yourself or, another example of "don't do as I do, do as I say".
    I'll leave the decision for software subscriptions, or perpetual licenses to the OP since he asked the original question to the forum.
  19. I not only got a new computer but also switched from my older Imac too. My decision was to go with an AMD powered PC for my photo processing. Most but not all of my Mac software I was able to download a PC version of it which helped a lot. I dd lose some specific Mac software so kept my older Mac for using them now and then. All and all I am pleased with my purchase. The hardest part for me was learning the differences between the two operating systems.
  20. david_henderson


    Thanks to all who have so far responded. I just thought I'd chime in on a few of the issues repeatedly raised.

    1. Drives, I have a SSD C drive and two internal HDD on my current machine- the SSD since I had a major crash with the original C drive a couple of years back . I had thought about the possibility of putting the existing drives in the new computer since it would save the grief of transferring across to the new machine ( on old/slow USB) quite a bit of software plus about 4TB of photo files. But the reason why I'm changing computers is to avoid the grief of another major crash and maybe recycling drives 11 and 7 years old is not a way to plan for reliability. I already have a few external boxes on my desk. I had been planning to have one copy of each of my photographs, old and new, on my computer, another in external HDD on my desk, and yet another on HDD in a nearby house where 2 daughters live. I don't think packing HDD capacity into a computer is expensive & as I have managed to achieve the " one raw copy of every retained image plus lots of Tiffs & jpegs" on my current old machine I don't really see whats better about not doing that on my new one. If people disagree with that route then I'd much rather listen to the argument now than after I've acted!

    2. Type of drives
    . As indicated I now have a SSD C drive holding everything but photographs. It made start-up a whole lot faster & I am likely to replicate or even re-cycle that. I am still mulling over whether to make the other two internal drives HDD or SSD, bearing in mind I'd like these to be 3-4 TB each. And remembering that reliability is a primary reason for making this change.

    3. My needs for image editing software are not hugely complicated & the current stuff does what I need. I wasn't aware of the possibility or keeping hold of the current software. I had kind of assumed that the next ( and maybe final) computer change would be accompanied by switching to up to date photography software. Now I'm apprehensive always about making changes to anything computer-wise since I'm not particularly savvy on these things, but I do find it somewhat frustrating to be unable to open the CR2 files taken on my Canon 5Diii that sit in my external hard drives. And not being able load the version of ACR appropriate to my camera. And I have to think whats most likely to get me through the next 10 years without grief. I think it would be neat to have a computer where the OS, software , and my camera are able to work properly together without hassle, and which might see me for 10 years.

    4. Build or Buy? I can't see me having a computer built to my specification. For one, specifying it may well require knowledge I don't have, and if I have a problem I don't want my first issue to be diagnosing it myself so I know which component manufacturer needs to be asked to put it right as I'm not up to it and don't want to be. Frankly I'm not at all interested in computers - I just need to use one. I wish it was like a car - buy something that broadly meets your needs, get in it and drive it. If I had secure technical back-up who would maximise reliability and value by building it for me I might have different attitudes, but I don't.

    So thanks again for the input which will be most useful, and if anyone wants to add

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