Lightroom catalog backup

Here’s a few tips on backing up Lightroom catalogs.  It’s reprinted from a post I made on a photo message board.

I must have missed the discussion about backing up Lightroom Catalogs. Why isn’t Time Machine a good method?

The problem occurs if the catalog is backed up while still open. If the database (the .lrcat file) is changed during the backup, then it may produce a corrupt backup. You would not know unless you tried to restore from the backup.

Apple may have fixed this – they did for Aperture, as I understand it. The fix involves not backing up the database while it’s open.

Even if that’ s fixed, however, there could still be problems for people, depending on how you use the program. Perhaps you leave Lightroom open most of the time, and there is limited opportunity to do the backup in the background.

The best method for backing up Lightroom has a few components.


1. Set Lightroom to backup on exit. Run it as often as you can, dropping a backup version in the same folder that the primary lives in. You should always (if possible) run this after most file-based changes to your images – added, deleted, renamed or re-foldered. This backup protects against corruption of the catalog.



2. Backup the entire Lightroom folder to another disk periodically (ideally, on a daily basis while the catalog is closed). You could use Time Machine to do this, but it will be making lots of copies. I personally use Chronosync to do this on the Mac.


3. You can tell Chronosync to skip the lrdata file (a folder on PC) in these backups to save time. These are the previews of the images and can be reconstructed in the event the backup is needed (as long as you still have the originals, with the same names, in the same folder arrangement – see item 1). This saves substantial time in the backup.



4. I published a pretty massive set of video-driven Lightroom tutorials earlier this year working on a grant from World Press Photo. Totally free.