This is a question I got at my seminar last week (in fact, she brought her laptop up to the stage to show me the warning dialog she was concerned about, which is seen below).
When Adobe releases an upgrade to Lightroom with new features (like the one they released last week) and because of that update, it requires you to let Lightroom upgrade your catalog so it can work with this newly updated version.
After you download this recent update, when you launch Lightroom you’ll see the message dialog below.
What you’re seeing is a pretty standard message (even though the part in bold sounds kinda scary). Clicking upgrade won’t erase your images or anything crazy like that. In fact, when you click the ‘Upgrade’ button, once the upgrade process is done you probably won’t notice anything different at all (well, except that you’ll have a different splash screen, and a few new features, and probably none of them are the ones you were hoping for). In short, it will be business as usual.
It doesn’t delete your old catalog — it creates a brand new catalog based upon your old catalog with all the same photos, sorting, edits — all the exact same stuff, and it puts it in the same folder as your old catalog (so yes, now you’ll have two catalogs. The old one will no longer work with this new upgraded Lightroom, but you have a new catalog that works and looks just like your old catalog, so nothing really lost here.
So, when you see that warning what should you do?
I just hit the upgrade button and move on. The only reason I can think of that you might want to backup your Catalog and preview file is that you don’t think you’ll like this version, or to protect yourself in the event something is terribly wrong with this particular upgrade (that hasn’t happened so far, but I guess it’s possible). So, if you feel the least bit queasy before you hit Upgrade, you can certainly back up your catalog (here’s how), but just so you know, I don’t do that — I don’t think it’s necessary, especially since you do have your original catalog still intact.
Hope you found that helpful.
P.S. One week from today I’m teaching my “Ultimate Photography Crash Course” full-day seminar in Atlanta and then in Seattle a few days later on Wednesday, Nov. 20th. Hope you can come out and spend the day with me. Tickets and info here.