Lightroom Q&A'sLightroom Tips

How This Blog (and your comments) Changed My Lightroom Backup Strategy

In this blog post a few weeks back, I wrote about a question that I got quite a bit during my Lightroom 3 Live seminars. The question (so you don’t have to go back and read) was how many Lightroom backups do I save. You know, when you quit Lightroom you can set LR’s preferences to backup your catalog. By default it will do it every week or so, but you can tell it to backup every time you quit Lightroom if you want. Well, each time it backs up it saves a folder of your backup. If you’ve got a decent sized catalog, those folders can grow to take up quite a bit of space and I heard from a lot of people wondering how many of them they should save.

My answer to them was none. I simply backup my computer every night using Super Duper for Mac. So I not only have a backup of my computer, but also a backup of Lightroom’s catalog in the process.

After reading your comments, I’ve since changed my strategy though. See, when Lightroom backs up your catalog, it does an integrity check. Several people pointed out that they’ve had corruption problems with their catalog before. So theoretically, my backup plan could cause a problem. What if my catalog became corrupt? Then, that night I backed up to Super Duper. But instead, my backup now became the corrupt version? Now, it’s never actually happened to me. And I don’t personally know anyone who’s had a corrupt catalog either. But there were enough comments from people who’ve had a corrupt catalog that I thought it was worth giving some thought to.

My new strategy has changed slightly. I set Lightroom’s backup preference to once a week. Then I make sure I delete all prior backups (you don’t need ’em). I continue on with my usual backup plan of backing up to Super Duper every night. So now Lightroom’s working catalog is backed up, Lightroom’s backup catalog is backed up (with full integrity check so I know it’s not corrupt), and my entire Mac is backed up too.

As a side note, that’s why I love this blog. It often takes on a life of it’s own. The comments, questions, answers, etc… all have a huge part in feeding it and giving me plenty of things to think and talk about when it comes to Lightroom. And that all happens because of you. So… thank you 🙂



  1. Gene Kimball 21 November, 2011 at 16:38 Reply

    I did not consider integrity checks but, sytematically, it creates one every time I do a catalogue backup. BTW, I have also had problems with full system backups in the same fashion which is why I choose not to put all my eggs in one basket [metaphorically speaking]. I generally keep two backups for this reason. What impressed me most about this particular blog was that you are willing to look at other views and reconsider your own views if there is sufficient reason.

    I enjoy your blogs, books and videos. This is one of the reasons I think so highly of your material which is to say, you listen.

  2. Dennis Zito 21 November, 2011 at 12:53 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    You’ve made me check my catalog backups and boy did I have a bunch! I also have four different catalogs and backed each one up this morning and deleted the old ones. So right now I’m in good shape and safe a bunch of hard drive space. I don’t back up my computer every night, but I do back it up once a month. All my photos are backed up a two different external hard drives. Also, I have my operating system and program disks plus all updates are on a separate hard drive.

    Thanks again for keeping us smart about updating and backing up!


    PS: Have a Great Thanksgiving!

  3. Cris da Rocha 21 November, 2011 at 11:19 Reply

    The integrity check is a good point and would warn you of corruption way sooner. Backup systems like Time Machine, will keep several previous copies of your backup, so you can go back in time to the point it was not yet corrupted, but you probably loose some (or maybe a lot) of information.

    It would be nice to have the integrity check without backing up, though.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *