Good Technique for Backing Up a Lightroom Catalog
In the last article I shared, “The Most Important Setting in Lightroom is Set To Off By Default”, I believe there was a misunderstanding because while talking about auto-saving your edits, I didn’t also discuss backing up your Lightroom Catalogs. It is important to back up your catalog and as you will see in this video I’d even highly recommend changing the Lightroom default location for a more secure backup.
The issue that many photographers have right now (and don’t even realize it,) is that they are backing up their Lightroom catalogs to the same main hard drive where their working catalog is located. This means that if the hard drive fails they lose both the working catalog and back up. Bad idea. Unfortunately though most don’t take the few minutes to understand Lightroom backups and change the storage location. Hopefully the video I posted (see above) helps to clear things up and gives you a good idea of how I keep my catalogs backed up and off my main hard drive in a safe place.
If you would prefer to read the information rather than watch the video, no worries I got you covered.
My Lightroom Catalog Backup Workflow
1. Go to your “Catalog Settings” (Mac > Lightroom > Catalog Settings) (PC > Edit > Catalog Settings) and under the General tab where it says “Backup” choose to have it back up the catalog “Every time Lightroom exits.” Now this might be way to many backups for you, I know it would be for me, but choose this setting temporarily for now to move on to step 2.
2. Now close Lightroom. When you do, the “Back Up Catalog” dialog box will pop up. Click the “Choose” button in order to choose the location of your backup catalog. Make sure the location is a different hard drive from the location of your working catalog. Either choose an external hard drive or as in my situation I choose to have it go directly to a folder in my Dropbox. What that means is that my catalogs are getting backed up into the cloud each time. I feel that is a safe option.
3. Once you have the location chosen, click the “Back up” button and give the program some time to back it all up. Depending on the size of the catalog it should take between 15-60 seconds maybe a bit longer if you’ve got a huge catalog.
4. Once you have the location of your backup set up, open up Lightroom again, go back to Catalog Settings and choose the frequency of your backups (once a week, once a day, on exit etc.)
That’s it. You are now all set up to have your Lightroom Catalog be backing up into a location that will be safe from a hard drive failure. This will also make sure you have another catalog to pull up in the case that your working catalog gets corrupted.
Lastly, keep in mind that these catalogs can take up quite a bit of space. I’d recommend holding on to a few of them but don’t be afraid of going back and deleting them as they start to pile up. If you don’t feel good about getting rid of them altogether at least zip them up so you can compress the size.
This is the way I back up my Lightroom catalog. Let me know in the comments below if you have an even better option. I always love tweaking my system to be the best it can be.