I tried Zoner Free to try to get around Adobe, which was acting very slow. Unfortunately, Zoner was worse - faster for viewing, but unusable for tagging.
The answer is: It's the network, stupid. I host all my photos on a central file server, which was just too slow for either Adobe or Zoner, Gigabit connections and RAID6 notwithstanding. The only solution is to move everything to a local drive.
You can kind of forget about any kind of graceful migration from one photos location to another using Adobe Elements Organizer. I have never seen a program that has such brain-dead defaults and crappy file handling in my life. It's almost like they make it intentionally difficult for you to re-organize anything at all.
Example: everyone says to "backup" and "restore" your Adobe catalog in order to move drives. Awkward, as the backup / restore functions take HOURS.
Then, when you restore, you will probably check "Restore original file locations" (or whatever it is) to restore your previous directory structure. But when you do this, Adobe will NOT restore the original structure.
Moving from \\myserver to USB drive P:\, if your photos were at:
they will end up at:
INSTEAD of at:
which, of course, is where you want them. Why Adobe saw fit to prefix the path with the server file name and drive letter is beyond me.
Do anything wrong and you are forced into the dreaded "Reconnect missing files" which has the worst UI I have ever seen in my life.
Now, maybe most people out there do not care so much. But I find it really irritating when an application takes control of my files from me. The fact that Adobe tends to pollute my directories with thousands of .XMP files is bad enough - now it is telling me where I can store them?? Not cool.
Unfortunately, there seems to be NO WAY to get tag information out of Adobe and into Zoner. So I may end up with Elements after all, or end up having to re-tag all 54,000 of my photos with Zoner. Not fun either way. Zoner is neat, but I don't know if it is THAT neat.
To make matters worse, Zoner does not support drag-and-drop tagging for multiple files at once. This is how I have always tagged groups of photos in Adobe. Instead, Zoner uses a right-click menu option that I find awkward. This will make any re-tagging operation extra laborious. Plus Zoner does not really support non-destructive editing, which is a surprising and concerning omission.
Picasa, on the other hand, barely supported tagging at all last time I checked. The new 3.9 seems to have tagging, so I may need to revisit that. Same problem as Zoner, but perhaps facial recognition will eliminate some of the tagging issues for me. (Yeah, right.) Picasa is all web-oriented, though, which I suspect is the wrong focus for me.
Make no mistake, the vendors want to lock you in to their photo organization system. Be smart and pick the right one before you start.