Lightroom Videos

Friday Video Tip – Backup to another drive

While I was teaching this week I realized a tip that I had forgotten about. Backing up your catalog automatically but doing it to another drive. Oddly enough, the backup location is not specified in Lightroom’s preferences (where of course, you choose your backup frequency). It’s in the actual dialog that pops up when you choose to backup. If you’re like me, for a long time you just left it as it’s default but you can indeed change it. I’ll explain more about why you want to change it and how in the quick video so click below to watch it.

Well that wraps up another week. I hope you have a great Mother’s Day weekend. Me and my kids are making Mother’s Day morning breakfast for my wife so if you smell smoke, don’t worry (or maybe worry just a little) 🙂 See ya!

Click here to watch the video. (10Mb)



  1. Alan Taylor 13 June, 2008 at 07:15 Reply

    Hi Matt
    Great stuff on back up, here is something I only found recently. It’s for paranoid folks like me, who like to keep a duplicate file containing all my photos on a separate drive. This programme free from Microsoft syncs the duplicate folders and I use it in addition to regular back ups of all my drives. It’s what we in the UK call belt and braces approach, where the wonderful people in the US might say belt and suspenders. Thanks again for the great tips excellent stuff on HDR this week.

  2. Curtis 18 May, 2008 at 05:45 Reply

    Another great and timely tip. I have spent about 4 hours trying to figure this out. I now know several of these drop boxes very well.

    Again a sincere thank you!!


  3. Finn Hansson 14 May, 2008 at 12:59 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Another quick question. As a side-remark you say you allways turn off the ‘Test integrity of this catalog’ in this video – why do you turn it off?

    Great videos – keep them comming!
    Finn Hansson

  4. Randy Bynon 13 May, 2008 at 16:50 Reply

    Hi Matt! Quick question. I sometimes bring images into Lightroom on my laptop and then later want to put them on my desktop. Is there an easy way to sync two different sets of images or do I just have to ALSO import them to the desktop? What about syncing any changes I made in my laptop Lightroom so that those changes are reflected in my desktop copy?



  5. Michael J. Titera 12 May, 2008 at 17:07 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I liked the little commericial prior to the clip. But you need to put a link to your book on the front page of Just put up a thumbnail of your book and the appropriate links under it. That way we can find and easily purchase your great book.

    Keep up the great work,

    Michael J. Titera

  6. lvthunder 12 May, 2008 at 13:45 Reply

    Is there a way to get Lightroom to just do the backup and not ask me? That way I launch Lightroom it does the backup then launches without me having to click backup.

  7. Scott Jones 11 May, 2008 at 16:39 Reply

    Another thought is that even if you do not regularly back up your catalog separate from a full computer back up to HD, it is a useful move to be sure that your LR catalog bckups are to a different internal disc on your machine than the program itself (some laptops do have two HDs). That way if one internal HD dies, then you can recover from the other HD either by having the program itself intact with the current catalog or with a backed up catalog on the other drive.

    Also in response to some of the comments above, one of the great benefits to storing all images in DNG format is that you can directly write all of the LR changes directly into the file, so even with a crash of LR, reimportation will resurrect at least all the changes you made to your images. Of course the other things in your catalog won’t be there…


  8. TommyR 11 May, 2008 at 01:57 Reply


    What I do is that I backup my catalog to the same place here I have my images that I backup. So everytime I back up my images, to 2 or 3 places, I will always grab the catalog aswell.

    And Thats how I do it, if it makes sance!

  9. Martin 10 May, 2008 at 04:28 Reply

    Annoyingly, in Windows anyway, LR creates a seperate folder within the LR backup location specified, and puts the backup file inside that. You’ll therefore get a seperate folder every time you back up, each with a single catalog file in it.

    As suggested above, it would be worth going back and deleting all but the last few.

  10. Mario 9 May, 2008 at 14:20 Reply

    to khara

    just save your edits as *.xmp files (“save metdata to file” in the Photo menu) on the laptop and copy these over to your desktop. then in lightroom you can apply the settings from the *.xmp files (“read metadata from files”) and all the edits on your desktop get updated with the laptop settings

  11. Khara Plicanic 9 May, 2008 at 12:52 Reply


    I’m writing in a desperate attempt to free myself from the chains of my desktop. If you can answer this, my life will improve by leaps and bounds. 🙂 (no pressure or anything….) Here’s the deal:

    When working with Lightroom on my desktop, I often have need to travel and move things to my external hard to be able to work on my laptop. My solution was to expert the client folders to my external hard drive, then import to lightroom on my laptop.

    The problem comes after I’ve made edits on my laptop. How do I export just the develop/pick settings to apply them to the catalog that already exists when I get back home on my desktop?

    Going bananas! Thanks for any help you can throw my direction. 🙂

  12. Glyn Dewis 9 May, 2008 at 12:25 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Great tip. I was recently a victim to a backup or should I say, lack of backup disaster. For some reason my system threw a wobbly and Lightroom froze. I had to shut down and when I restarted, it said that the current catalogue was corrupt … tried to repair it but to no avail. This left me with a backup from a week ago, that didn’t include all the alterations I’d made to over 400 wedding photos :o( Needless to say, I now have Lightroom set to back up or atleast give me the choice to, each and every time it’s launched.

    Well, they say the best way to learn is the hard way, and boy, did I :o)


  13. Kirk 9 May, 2008 at 12:10 Reply


    What timing… I was just going to send you an email asking this same question, but with a little twist. I have filled my int. DH on My Mac Book Pro, plus I stuffed my 160g ext. HD. I would like to transfer all my photo files from both HD to a new ext. HD (1 tb). Will LR automatically know where the files are when I attach the new HD, or will I have to tell LR where I stashed all my old files?

  14. Seim Effects 9 May, 2008 at 11:57 Reply

    Good vid Matt. Backup is always a little bit of on unknown it seems. I confess that though I’m pretty into backup I have usually avoided backing up the catalog. Lately I’ve been really thinking I need to fix that.

    Only thing I wounder about it size. These can get pretty big, and it just keeps on backing up. We need a setting to only save say the last 10 backups, so we don’t get loads of files in there.

    I know we can manually delete them, but that’s not a very efficient workflow.

    Maybe I just missed it, but I don’t see an option to automatically delete past backups…


  15. chris 9 May, 2008 at 11:48 Reply

    Actually what I do so far is to exclude the lrct file and turn off the TM while in LR but LR is doing a backup every time I lauch it in a folder and that folder is backup by TM.
    But can we do better ? or still not ?

  16. chris 9 May, 2008 at 11:46 Reply

    Thanks for the tip !

    About backup, what is the situation with TimeMachine ?
    Do we have to turn off the TimeMachine while we work in LR ?
    Do we have to exclue de lrct file from the backup ?
    Or we can back it up but not while LR is open ?

  17. Paul 9 May, 2008 at 11:44 Reply

    Great tip Matt! I wasn’t even thinking about where I had been backing up to. As soon as I watched your video I went in and changed the backup locations for both my version 1.4 and 2.0 beta. – Thanks.

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