If you don’t render the standard-sized or 1:1 previews, then Lightroom is constantly trying to build them as you edit your images, resulting in very slow performance. And if your Lightroom Catalog is on an external USB or Firewire hard drive, this too will handcuff Lightroom and impact its performance greatly.
In a similar manner, if you are working with an internal drive that is almost full, Lightroom’s performance will be hindered because the scratch disks that are needed when the RAM is maxed out are virtually non-existent. I would also advise having at least 4GB of RAM in your imaging computer, which will allow for access to Lightroom’s built-in 64 bit processing. Lastly, don’t forget to optimize the Lightroom catalog every so often to keep things humming. Adapt these tips to your Lightroom workflow, and you will be amazed at how efficient and fast Lightroom can be. And if that isn’t enough, buy yourself a serious amount of RAM and then Lightroom with really start to motor. I recently worked on a friend’s brand new 12-core Apple MacPro with 32GB of RAM, and Lightroom never hesitated for anything. Even exporting 100 images took very little time.
Also, if you start to see Lightroom crashing often, you may have some RAM issues in your computer. I have had several peers recently deal with some serious computer issues, especially because Lightroom and many applications like it rely very heavily on the computer’s RAM. The cause of their computer crashes and other issues was not the Lightroom software itself but a case of bad RAM chips. Once they replaced the RAM, all of their Lightroom problems were solved. So if you start having massive issues with Lightroom and your computer crashing, you might want to remove any third-party RAM you have installed and replace it.
On another note, I have talked with several photographers who are frustrated that Lightroom won’t work the way “they” want it to. If you learn to use Lightroom the way it was designed, then you’ll have an exceptional experience with the software, and it will make the digital workflow process a lot easier. It can only do what it was designed to do, but as it continues to get better and better, hopefully it will be able to do what you want it to do as well at some point. If you are frustrated that Lightroom doesn’t work the way you want it to, please go to the Adobe Lightroom website and give them your feedback. Adobe has a fantastic track record of listening to its customers and incorporating their ideas into future software updates.