the empty set

Mobile Aperture


As much as I like Aperture, one of its annoying wekanesses is the lack of support of multiple librairies, or network based librairies.

Yes, you can have multiple librairies per se, but you can only open one at a time. Launch Aperture with the alt key pressed and you'll be prompted to choose a library or create a new one. A standard iTunes/iPhoto behaviour. Migrating images from one to another can be a drag.

So, what do you do when you work on multiple Macs and wish to access your images from all of them? I attempted synching to an external hard drive between Macs, but the operation was prone to error, especially if you launched Aperture without synchronising before.

So, I started to think the other way around. What if the external drive became my main working drive? This way, I would always have my latest library with me. Yes, but, what about drive failure, loss or theft? Gasp.

Well, how about using the desktop Macs as backups? Now that sounds really weird.

Think of it this way: Aperture has a nice backup feature named Vaults. You can backup your library to as many Vaults as you like - except on network volumes (well, actually you can). Use your portable drive to store your main library, and make sure to backup to a local Vault at the end of each working session. Not only does this ensure you of having multiple backups, but they are at different locations as well. The Macs are backuped too - which is added value.

As long as you don't forget to update your Vaults. Please, don't forget to backup.

This idea requires a reliable external drive to store your library. My choice went to a longtime favourite company of mine: WiebeTech. Who else?

They offer a wide range of strong and reliable products, tailored to suit your needs and extremely well finished. Support is awesome too. They are not the cheapest out there, but then, how much do you value your photos?


The ToughTech XE mini (320Gb/7200rpm) sports all the connectors you can dream of: Firewire 800 (400 compatible), USB and eSATA. It comes with a surdy carrying case, and a large set of cables (one for all the connectors mentioned above), an external power supply and a screwdriver if required.

What are your strategies?

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Reponses to “Mobile Aperture”

#1 by Enrique

21:20 on 4 February 2009

My strategy is to not be mad after Joe Schorr and the Aperture team for taking so long to release something that actually works for other than the independant wedding photographer. Then, go with the flow and consider — unless you're an embedded photog reporting from Kabul — that you're better off using your eyes and lenses while on the road instead of spending time pushing pixels on a screen.

My library lives in my studio and is very happy there. Abroad, I carry a Hyperdrive to backup my cards and that's about it. If I'm on assignment and need to shoot tethered, I create a specific Aperture project then copy it back to my main library when back in the studio (drag and drop works well for this).

Traveling with your entire photo library is like carrying around your entire music library, will you listen to it all?

My 2 cents...

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