Deleting all my PL4 Exports folders

Very simple question - just want to ask before I do something.

When I want to use one of my photos in the DxO forums, or any forum, or in email, or whatever, I export that file into a sub-folder in the main folder, which contains my exported images, and those are the ‘jpg’ images that I use elsewhere.

I see no reason to keep those folders around, as I can always re-create them when/if needed. Is there any reason (that I haven’t thought of) of why I shouldn’t go through my folders, and delete all the PL4 Exports folders? My gut feeling is to just go and do it.

I can think of several reasons to save them.

Don’t assume you can always recreate them. Always is a long time. Your raw files have your edits in the database or the dop files, not in burned into your images. If your database or dop files get deleted, moved, renamed or corrupted you may have to start from scratch.

If you eventually decide not to continue upgrading Photolab or you start to use alternative software, or your current computer fails, or technology changes years from now, or for any other reason where you can no longer export your raw files with their current edits, you will have lost everything and will have to start over.

I know some people who do just the opposite of what your suggesting. Once they export to jpg they delete their raw files. I think both those approaches are a bad idea.


1 Like

Gosh, well, you’ve proved once again that it’s better to ask first before doing something.

(Maybe there should/could be a tool that exports everything into a new file structure with only the ‘jpg’ images, and that can be filed away for when/if it’s needed. )

For now though, I’ll just leave things as-is. Just as I’ve done with Lightroom, every so often I used to copy my entire directory structure to an external drive, in addition to whatever else I’m doing for backup. I’ve got three folder systems, one for Lightroom, one for Luminar, and one for PhotoLab.

I’m glad I asked. Thanks!

I always keep my DNGs, TIFFs and JPEGs in the same folder as the raw files used to create them. For me, its far easier to keep track of everything that way. I will occasionally create a subfolder for some specific purpose and copy exported files to it. However, once those folders have served their purpose I delete them.



I’m with Mark on this. In short, I keep the RAW files (and DOPs) for future further work on them as tools evolve and / or I get more accomplished at using them. I keep the exported JPEGs for ease and speed of access.

  • I keep my RAW files and their DOPs in identical directory structures (RAW / Decade / Year / Month / #-Subject) on two external hard drives (plus occasional backup onto a portable hard drive that is unconnected apart from when copying the files). This way I can revisit the RAW corrections any time I want - as I have been doing so recently for example to take advantage of PL4’s DeepPrime).
  • I keep my exported JPEGs in the same directory structure ( Pictures / Decade …) on my computer’s main hard drive and the two external hard drives (JPEG / Decade …). This way I can use other tools for browsing the exported JPEGs (Faststone Image Viewer is simple, and quick) without having to wait for exports.

I don’t use Keywords or a separate DAM and so have to remember or browse through the structure to find images. Also I have to make sure that I’ve replicated the directory structures and their contents across the various disk drives. So, my approach has it’s drawbacks but it works for me. However, each of us has to work out what we need and what suits us best and what tradeoffs we are happy with.

I sit in the camp of exporting, using then deleting the exported files.

I have one folder for exported jpegs, which is usually kept empty, apart from special events that might require reprints in the near future, which get put in sub-folders of the export folder.

Now that we have the possibility of “pre-treating” RAW files with DeepPRIME and exporting to DNG files, those get kept in the same folder as the original RAW file.

My structure for RAW files is Place or Event/Year/Month/Day and I use my own browser that flattens that hierarchy from the first level, allowing me to browse all images from one place or event, regardless of the date, in one window.

As for keeping jpegs, I, personally, don’t see the point when you can re-export at any time.

As I indicated earlier, that assumes that you will always be using PhotoLab and that your .dop files won’t be deleted, misplaced, corrupted or otherwise unavailable or unusable at some future point when you want to recreate a JPEG.

If I have created an image I’m very happy with, I don’t want to have to worry about being able to recreate it exactly the same way sometime in the future.


Another reason for NOT deleting exported files is that newer versions of PhotoLab do not necessarily produce the same exported results as the earlier version you used for the original export … That is, PL is not (necessarily) backwards compatible.

I know this from personal experience.

John M

You have all convinced me. I don’t really need to free up the space, and they’re only jpg images anyway, so I will leave them in place.

Not to be contrarian, but I never export into the same structure that my originals live in. I have a completely separate set of folders for various export purposes and clean them out often — usually when they get a little too cluttered for new arrivals. Part of this is I don’t want to see exports alongside originals in the photo library, as that is my “primary” collection.

I understand that PL may change or I may change to use different software etc, but I have changed software so many times now that there are a lot of photos I cannot faithfully reproduce, and I look at this as an opportunity. I love to have another go at processing old images and see what I can do with them with today’s eyes (and software). In cases where I do have an old, typically low resolution export to compare against, I am usually much more satisfied with the new results.

I’ve taken this to extremes by reprocessing a lot of my old photos I have on Flickr and re-uploading them. I think I’ve redone north of 1,000 images now. All of them were originally processed with software other than PL.

Adding my workflow/storage:

  • One folder for raw
  • one folder for “master” files - these are 16bit tiffs, if needed/wanted in several versions like b&w or whatever.
  • jpgs are created based on the master file for each purpose specifically and after use deleted.

I keep of course the raw file and the master files This concept is simple and straightforward. Has served me well for years.

The idea behind this is based on “The DAM” book by Peter Krogh.