Plan your backup strategy

Lightroom allows you to schedule regular catalog backups when you exit the software. Backups executed from Lightroom include only the catalog file. You must independently back up your edited photos and anything exported from Lightroom.

Performing frequent, regular catalog backups is only part of what should be a comprehensive backup strategy. When formulating a backup strategy:

  • Remember that the more frequently you back up your catalog and photos, the less data you stand to lose when a crash or corruption occurs.
  • If possible, store the backup copies of your photos and catalog on a separate hard disk from your working files.
  • Consider using dedicated backup software to automate the process and synchronize changes between your working and backup files.
  • If you’re worried that your backup files might be accidentally erased, create redundant backups on additional disks, or on read-only media such as DVDs.
  • For greater security, store your backup disk in a separate location from your working disk, preferably offsite or in a fire-proof safe.
  • Consider making copies of your photos when you import them. Remember that this gives you only a copy of your original photos, not your edited photos. See Back up photos during import.
By default, Lightroom saves backed up catalogs to the following locations:
 
  • Windows: \Users\[user name]\Pictures\Lightroom\[catalog name]\Backups\
  • Mac OS: /Users/[user name]/Pictures/Lightroom/[catalog name]/Backups\
Inside the Backups folder, Lightroom creates a folder with the date and time of the backup: YYYY-MM-DD HRMN. (The time is represented by a 24-hour clock without a colon between hours and minutes.) The backed up catalog is saved inside the date-stamped folder, with the same name as the working catalog. 
 
Lightroom writes a new catalog every time it creates a backup. To save space on your hard disk, delete or compress old backup files. In addition, make sure that you have write permissions for the location where you decide to save your backup.

Note:

Running Mac OS X Time Machine™ backup or restore operations while Lightroom is in use is not recommended.

Note:

On Mac, Lightroom CC/Lightroom 6.1 doesn't zip catalogs larger than 4 GB. This is because the default Mac OS unzip utility is unable to handle archives larger than 4GB and reports such zipped catalogs as "corrupted".

Schedule catalog backups

  1. Choose Edit > Catalog Settings (Windows) or Lightroom > Catalog Settings (Mac OS).
  2. In the Backup area of the General panel, choose an option from the Back Up Catalog pop-up menu:

    When Lightroom Next Exits

    Backs up the catalog the next time you exit Lightroom, and then the Back Up Catalog option switches to Never.

    Every Time Lightroom Exits

    Backs up the catalog every time you exit Lightroom, so changes from every working session are always backed up.

    Once A Day, When Exiting Lightroom

    Backs up the catalog the first time you exit Lightroom each day. If you exit Lightroom more than once a day, additional changes are not backed up until the next day.

    Once A Week, When Exiting Lightroom

    Backs up the catalog once a week. If you exit Lightroom more frequently, additional changes are not backed up until the next week.

    Once A Month, When Exiting Lightroom

    Backs up the catalog once a month. If you exit Lightroom more frequently, additional changes are not backed up until the next month.

    Never

    No backups are performed by Lightroom. (Not recommended.)

Back up a catalog automatically

  1. Exit Lightroom when a catalog backup is scheduled in your Catalog Settings.

  2. In the Back Up Catalog dialog box, click Back Up to back up the catalog at the default location and quit Lightroom.

    Optionally, select any of the following before you click Back Up:

    Backup Folder

    Shows you the default location where Lightroom saves backups. Click Choose to back up to a different location.

    Test Integrity Before Backing Up

    Checks for catalog corruption before Lightroom completes the backup. Testing integrity increases the time it takes to back up the catalog but reduces the risk of data loss.

    Note:

    You can also test catalog integrity when you open a catalog. In the General panel of the Preferences dialog box, select When Starting Up Use This Catalog > Prompt Me When Starting Lightroom. Then, start Lightroom. In the Select Catalog dialog box, select Test Integrity Of This Catalog and then click Open.

    Optimize Catalog After Backing Up

    Cleans up and reorganizes your database file to make it run faster and more efficiently.

    Skip Until Tomorrow

    If you've opted to back up your catalog once a day, click to postpone the operation for a day.

    Skip Until Next Week

    If you've opted to back up your catalog once a week, click to postpone the operation for a week.

    Skip Until Next Month

    If you've opted to back up your catalog once a month, click to postpone the operation for one month.

    Skip This Time

    Click to postpone the backup until the next time you quit Lightroom.

    The Lightroom Back Up Catalog dialog box

Back up a catalog manually

  1. Choose Edit > Catalog Settings (Windows) or Lightroom > Catalog Settings (Mac OS).

  2. Choose Back Up Catalog > When Lightroom Next Exits.

    Back up catalog when Lightroom next exits
  3. Close the window and then quit Lightroom.

Restore a backup catalog

  1. Choose File > Open Catalog.
  2. Navigate to the location of your backed up catalog file.
  3. Select the backed up .lrcat file and click Open.
  4. (Optional) Copy the backed up catalog to the location of the original catalog to replace it.

Video tutorial: Backing up your catalog

Video tutorial: Backing up your catalog
Adobe TV

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