Can you use DXO without a database?

I am looking for a good quality photo editing app without a database. Can you run DXO completely without a database? Lightroom - which I currently use, won’t open if its database gets corrupted. Even though it supports saving edits in sidecar files it is built around the database system. I have had a bad experience with this so I want to see how DXO handles this. Is this the same with DXO or can you simply choose not to use a database at all - just save the edits in sidecar files?


You cannot use Photolab without its database but
you can ignore it because sidecar files are privileges.
You cannot use projects without database.

You can delete the database every day
%appdata%\DxO\DxO PhotoLab 6\Database\ PhotoLab.db
~/Library/DxO Photolab v6 DOPDatabase.dopdata


Be careful, I forgot which ones but the side-car files do not contain everything.

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Except projets, DOP and XMP sidecar files contain all metadata.

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The database will create itself even if you delete it, it is an integral part of PhotoLab, but if you use DOP and .xmp sidecar files you can pretty much ignore the database. Unlike Lightroom, PhotoLab does not have an import process. Its PhotoLibrary is a file manager that allows direct access to your image files on your hard drive.


@justinwyllie the second time I attempted to open a Lightroom database during DxPL 5 Beta testing it failed to open. They both use SQLite databases and in general use I have not found there to be problems with DxPL db but I destroy the database frequently so that I can more easily inspect the database entries.

There were problems for some users during the DxPL4 to DxPL5 transition where DxPL5 lost its way and created a new database but hopefully DxO have learned from that situation.

@Franky there is no data with respect to ‘Projects’ in the DOP but all other data pertaining to the image contained in the database is written to the DOP after being updated to the database within a maximum of 20 seconds.

The database is the primary data storage mechanism used by DxPL and the DOP is a copy which will be “adopted” if it discovers an image with DOP that is not already in the database.

Hence you can “throw” the database away regularly providing you do not want to use ‘Projects’.

Please be aware that the DOP will always contain the metadata that DxPL knows about and the xmp sidecar will contain the metadata that DxPL and the user chooses to write back out which makes this statement true and false at the same time!?

Arguably also right and wrong at the same time. DxPL will do nothing to actually recover a database it will start with an empty database and if you visit no directories with images and DOPs it will continue to be empty, i.e. it does not actively seek images and/or DOPs.

As the user traverses directories so all the pertinent data contained in the directory will automatically be imported into the database, using DOPs if they are present, using xmp sidecar files if they are present according to the “first discovery” rules.

There is no selectivity with respect to images in a directory, all will be imported when the directory is “discovered”/selected by the user for the “first time” with respect to the contents of the database, i.e. the database does not already have an entry for the directory in the database.

Only the directory selected will be “imported”, no adjoining directories nor any sub-directories will be automatically “discovered” and imported, unless and until the user chooses to “visit” those directories and sub-directories.

The DxPL db backup and restore options are available and adequate but not exemplary but there will be no prompt on closedown offering/reminding to backup the database, that is entirely a user decision.

PhotoLab does not ask for permission to import metadata from files, it simply imports whatever image files’s metadata it recognizes. In both cases, “import” stands for “adding metadata to a catalog”, which is completely different from what e.g. Apple Photos does in its default configuration.

Deleting DPL’s database regularly helps to prevent issues that can arise if one moves or deletes files outside of DPL. While Lightroom has the tools to fix discrepancies between what is in its catalog vs. what’s on the drive(s), DPL has no such functionality as of today.

@John-M launches DPL through a wrapper that deletes the database. Other files might need to be deleted too, like cache and statistics files. State your OS if you want to know where that stuff is kept.

Other than that: Plan your 30 day free trial and see if and how you like DPL.

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In my 4 years with PL, I have deleted the database countless times and always only relied on the sidecar files. Works perfectly, and for me it’s a strong point compared to ALL other RAW editing programs.


Affinity Photo doesn’t have a data base. However, it creates rather large files.

Not any more. Affinity Photo 2 has the option of sidecars that only hold the adjustments and simply refer to the original RAW file.

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I use ACDSee Photo Studio 9 for Mac as my DAM and it is configured to use both PL6 and Affinity Photo V2. I send my RAW file to which ever program I choose edit the photograph and simple save the file, the file is saved in its native format ie DxO.dng and .affinity. If you want to reedit the photograph you simply double click it and it opens in the relevant program. The windows version is called Photo Studio Home.