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It’s ‘Pitch Your Outdated Backup Catalogs” Friday!

Hi gang, and happy Friday! Just a quickie today, but it’s kinda important — especially if you’re working on a laptop or a desktop computer where you’re constantly running out of free space.

I am declaring today ‘Pitch Your Outdated Catalog Backups” Friday!

Simply put: Check to see if you’re accumulating a bunch of useless outdated backup catalogs, and throw the ones away you don’t need anymore to free up space

You see that dialog above — the one that appears when you quit Lightroom, asking you if you want to make a backup copy of your catalog? Each time you see it, it asks you to make a COPY of your entire catalog. Each time you hit that ‘Back up’ it makes yet another backup copy. Sure, it compresses that backup quite a bit, but still…those backups can get really big in file size, but worse yet, after a couple of weeks, they’re so outdated that those older ones become useless anyway.

So, go see how many backups you have (you really only need one or two very recent ones).

Look inside your Lightroom folder (the one where your catalog(s) are stored  (mine was inside my Pictures folder on my Mac), and look for a folder named ‘Backups” and inside that folder, see if you don’t have a whole bunch of backups that are way out of date, just eating up hard drive space for no reason. If you don’t see a folder named ‘Backups’ that’s because you don’t have any backups (ack!) so if disaster strikes (your catalog gets corrupted), you will be starting over from scratch in Lightroom (double-ack! Or as they say in the movie Mars Attacks – “Ack, ack!”)

I still had some hanging around from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. If somehow my catalog got corrupted, I would want to use a backup from April of 2017 — not one from 2012, 2013, and so on, so those outdated backups are doing just one thing — eating up space. Now’s the time to pitch ’em, seeing as it’s ‘Pitch Your Outdated Catalog Backups” Friday!

Hope at the very least it frees up some space for you, and if you looked in your Lightroom folder and didn’t even see a folder named ‘Backups’ maybe it made you go and hit that ‘Make Backup’ button so you at least have one on hand in case disaster strikes.

Hope you found that helpful.

Have a great weekend everybody!!! 🙂



P.S. Great little tip over on my personal blog today at scottkelby.com – you’ll dig it. 



  1. Lionel 26 June, 2017 at 15:04 Reply

    Was always worried about deleting old LR backups because I thought it made incremental backups between full backups but didn’t know what the schedule was so therefore wouldn’t know how far back should be kept. So are we positive this is not the case? (Sorry Scott, not questioning your impeccable knowledge, just my paranoid, belt and braces approach!)

  2. Michael Schwaiger 30 April, 2017 at 04:59 Reply

    For the Mac Users with the tool Hazel installed on their machines, simply create a rule with the condition “Date created is not among the … most recent” -> Move to trash. Works perfect for me…

  3. Natalie Strand 29 April, 2017 at 19:47 Reply

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for this tip. I freed up over 60 GB of memory going back to 2013, which is when I first got LR. I’ve been needing that space so badly that I don’t have any current catalog backups on my local hard drive (insert a very embarrassed face here). You can bet that tonight I’m going to back up my LR catalog! Wooo hooo!

  4. Michael Remijan 28 April, 2017 at 16:10 Reply

    Thank you so much! I had 26GB of backup going back to 2010! I just assumed Lightroom would have managed this better.

  5. Pat O'Halloran 28 April, 2017 at 05:00 Reply

    I use a plug-in by Jim Keiron to automatically remove old back-ups each time Lightroom launches. Keeps the folder clear of old back-ups, you can set the number you wish to keep.

  6. PeteM 28 April, 2017 at 04:09 Reply

    The lack of a backup folder inside the Lightroom folder is not necessarily a problem providing it exists somewhere, in fact I would say that is the wrong place to have your backup folder and you should move it elsewhere. That keeps the backups clear of the photo library and LR catalog allowing easier housekeeping and off computer backups.

    My setup is:- D drive is the data drive, the pictures and Lightroom folder are both on here (separately for me), the entire D drive is automatically backed up to my NAS drive. My E drive is used for short term storage, the Lightroom backup file is on there along with the copies made when importing photos.

    Apart from that the basic premise of this article is good in that peoples computers often get clogged with backup and temporary files and periodic housekeeping on these is good practise.

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