Back up your Lightroom catalog

Post Production Pro Tips - Weekly editing advice and workflow suggestions from the post-production pros.
Back up your Lightroom catalog

Lightroom has become integral to the professonal photographer’s workflow. As it holds a lot of important data, it’s a good idea to back up your catalog(s) on a regular basis.

Lightroom has backup functionality built in, so make sure you take advantage of it. To set up the backup for a catalog, open it and go to Lightroom -> Catalog Settings (on Mac) or Edit -> Catalog Settings (on Windows).

On the General tab, choose how often the backup should occur:

backup options screenshot

Note that the backup doesn’t actually happen until you open and close Lightroom. If you go weeks without closing Lightroom, your catalog will never get backed up.

When you do close Lightroom, however, and a backup is scheduled, you are presented with a few more options:

backup options screenshot 2

The backup is saved to a default location, but you’re welcome to save it elsewhere. You should consider saving to an external backup location for added protection.

During the backup, Lightroom can also test the integrity of the catalog and optimize it. These options are a good idea if you have some extra time to let Lightroom run in the background. In essence, catalogs can become quite big and messy internally. These two options allow Lightroom to clean up its messes and keep things orderly.

Another very important thing to note is that this process DOES NOT back up the image files. This is for the catalog file only, so make sure you’re backing up the image files on your own.

For more information, Adobe has a good help page on backups.


Quick-Tip: For tips on backing up other important files, read about the 3-2-1 backup method. Quick-Tip: We’ll be at Imaging USA  this Sunday through Tuesday. If you’re attending, stop by booth #758 to say hello.
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  1. Backups are a must for the PROFESSIONAL photographer, heck sometimes I worry if I have enough backups and copies of photos