Lightroom Tips

My New Lightroom Backup Training Course

First off, there’s a tip post right below this one so don’t forget to check it out. Also, I Just wanted to let you guys know that I had a brand new online training course go up on Kelby this week. Its all about backing up Lightroom. It sounds easy, but its probably the most-asked questions that I get (or I wouldn’t have created a whole course for it). I don’t just show you how to backup your catalog and photos but I show you why and the best ways to do it to make sure you’re back up and running in no time if something ever happened. I even went through some disaster scenarios. Like, what would you do if you’ve been backing up the way you should and one day you open Lightroom and its corrupt, or your computer crashed and your catalog is gone – what would you do? I go over those scenarios as well as some things like switching computers and backing up preferences and presets. I’m really psyched with the way it came together, and I made sure to keep each lesson right around the 3-4 minute mark so its easily digestible. You can find it (and the course outline) over at Thanks!



  1. Michele Wassell 19 November, 2009 at 22:37 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    I have been watching your lightroom videos on kelbytraining for the last 3 weeks. I started to use LR and importing my images into LR and storing them (instead of on computer, on my LR external drive, then making copies of that drive onto another drive for 2nd backup). Anyway… No problems until tonight. I hooked up my external drive (main LR external drive) to my laptop and my “travel” drive to import the photos from there into LR and store on my main LR drive. However, I noticed that all my photos in LR have ? on them, the folders all have ? next to them on the left hand side. However, when I went into “my computer”, then into the LR drive, all my folders and photos are there. I kind of followed a similar catalog filing like yours on your video to keep it easy. Can you please help me out here? Thank you so much!!


  2. Rob Sylvan 13 October, 2009 at 14:07 Reply

    Just a note to those relying on writing to XMP as a backup alternative, collection membership, virtual copies and develop history steps are not written into the XMP metadata space, so that info is only stored inside the Lightroom catalog file itself.

  3. Ron 13 October, 2009 at 09:31 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    whats going on with psutv no new podcast for last week (or an old one like there has been). I was thinking there would be one from PS world at least.
    and whats going on with D town? in the last podcast scott mentioned there would be a continuation to the podcast there ?

  4. Cindy 13 October, 2009 at 09:11 Reply

    Yes, Matt. A completely unrelated question to this website. But when is D-Town TV coming back? Are you working on new episodes?
    Thanks, Cindy

  5. Marcelo Couto 13 October, 2009 at 06:47 Reply

    Hello Matt,
    Thanks for this most useful course.
    I’ve a question regarding this topic: when you compose a HDR image, do you keep all your original raw file in archives, or just the resulting TIFF?
    Take care,

  6. JasonP 10 October, 2009 at 03:44 Reply

    Same as Nick above, I use the XMP created by Lightroom as redundancy/backup. I know there’s a reduction in performance, but my computer is thankfully fast enough to handle having “Auto-write XMP” turned on. So, as I work, it’s like having a mini-backup of each photo automatically.

    Then, when I do my backups (2-3 times a week), I use Microsoft’s SyncToy. Each year of photos has it’s own backup rule as well as the Lightroom catalog (I don’t use LR’s backup, I want a mirror folder structure, not multiple subfolders for each backed up catalog) and my LR preferences folder. To sync, I choose “Run All”. It looks at each year and only updates/deletes files that have changed. Since LR doesn’t touch the photos themselves, any changes to previously backed up photos in LR it copies over all my .xmp files (I shoot RAW). My older JPEGs from before I shot RAW are copied over if they’ve changed, of course.

    It’s for this reason I don’t use DNG (yet). Any developing or keyword changes would result in the multi-MB file getting backed up each time. With only the XMP needing to move, backing up thousands of photos worth of work literally takes seconds.

  7. JayM 9 October, 2009 at 17:42 Reply

    Hey Matt

    I watched this last night and really enjoyed – well done and an excellent, if not overdue topic. While a solid backup strategy I’m hoping that Adobe is planning on a better solution in LR3. Having to go in and manually replicate the main file structure on the backup drive after import is a rather primitive workaround. Lightroom should do that for us. It’s applying the new file name syntax, so it should be duplicating the directory structure as well. That was always a frustrating/confusing part of their backup approach and frankly I never even considered your method of manually changing/creating directories on the backup drive. Likewise Adobe needs to fashion a means to synchronize changes to that backup rather than being forced to cut and paste.

    My approach has changed and was actually inspired by a comment you had posted some time ago. As an interim measure I still have LR backup my files as I import them. Likewise I also regularly backup the catalogue to the same external drive. But rather than monkeying around with the backup file structure I rely on Apple’s Time Machine to keep everything in order for me. It appears to be working perfectly in that regard.

    On a related note, you had mentioned in the video your were considering the newer Western Digital 2TB and 4TB RAID drives. I have the 2TB version set to RAID 1 (?) for mirroring. With the FireWire 800 connection it’s fast as hell. And also turns on and off automatically with my MacPro which I really like. A really slick solution and the built-in redundancy lets me sleep at night.

    Thanks again for another great course. And here’s hoping that Adobe improves their backup solution in future LR editions.

  8. Cindy 9 October, 2009 at 17:28 Reply

    Wow, Matt I didn’t think you would respond to my question about back-ups with a whole course. Damn, your good. Thanks, Cindy

  9. Jerome Brunet 9 October, 2009 at 14:08 Reply


    Quick question about the 300 preset, been using the preset to great effect but seem to get different Lightroom results from computer to computer. Any suggestions?

    Thanks again!


  10. Nick 9 October, 2009 at 09:24 Reply


    Not wanting to hijack your course plug but I have been recently looking into something that may be relevant and I would be interested to hear your/others thoughts if possible.

    The issue relates to the exporting of files and back-up, particularly in the case of jpegs (although the principal argument applies to any file type RAW, dng, tiff etc).

    When I export an imported jpeg, with keywording, develop adjustments etc applied to it, a significantly bigger jpeg is created on export (in the File settings of the Export dialogue I’m setting maximum quality i.e. 100). I think I’m right in saying that, on export, a bigger file would have been created regardless of any adjustments being made – something to do with file compression maybe?

    An alternative to exporting is to ask Lightroom to save the xmp metadata directly to the original file. (I didn’t realise that jpegs could store xmp data, including develop settings.) If you do this and compare the file size the latter (i.e. the original file with xmp changes saved to it) is considerably smaller than the former (i.e. the exported file with the changes applied) and yet both are identical when opened in Photoshop (interestingly the jpeg file with the xmp data saved to it launches in camera raw in P/Shop).

    This opens up the question that a potentially more efficient back-up option (for those shots that didn’t require any further work) would be to save all the xmp data to the original files and then simply copy (not export) them to a back-up device. This back-up would be independent of Lightroom (since there is no need to rely on a Catalogue file) and potentially offer considerable savings in disk space.

    Clearly you would always need to back up the Catalogue file and probably the original files but this could be a good option for an alternative/further back-up dependent on your work-flow.

    I’m a total amateur at all this so apologies if I have not expressed myself particularly

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