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Back up a catalog

  1. Lightroom Classic User Guide
  2. Introduction to Lightroom Classic
    1. What's new in Lightroom Classic
    2. Lightroom Classic system requirements
    3. Lightroom Classic | Common Questions
    4. Lightroom Classic Key Concepts
    5. Lightroom Classic tutorials
    6. Feature summary | Lightroom CC 2015.x/Lightroom 6.x releases
  3. Lightroom and Adobe services
    1. Creative Cloud Libraries
    2. Using Adobe Stock in Creative Cloud apps
  4. Lightroom for mobile, TV, and the web
    1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for mobile and Apple TV | FAQ
    2. Sync Lightroom Classic with Lightroom ecosystem
    3. Photoshop family of mobile apps
  5. Import photos
    1. Import photos from a camera or card reader
    2. Import photos from a folder on a hard drive
    3. Import photos automatically
    4. Import photos from Photoshop Elements
    5. Import photos from a tethered camera
    6. Specify import options
    7. Set import preferences
    8. The Filename Template Editor and Text Template Editor
  6. Workflows
    1. Apply Masking in photos
    2. Export and save your photos as JPEGs
    3. Export and watermark your photos
    4. Import your photos
    5. Adjustment Brush: the basics
    6. Adjustments with the Tone Curve
    7. Advanced video slideshows
    8. Control white balance
    9. Create a contact sheet
    10. Enhance your workflow with Lightroom Classic
    11. Adjustments with Lens Blur
    12. Edit and Export in HDR
  7. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Set preferences for working in Lightroom Classic
    3. Display the Library on a second monitor
    4. Personalize identity plates and module buttons
    5. Watermark your photos in Lightroom Classic
    6. Color management
  8. Viewing photos
    1. View photos
    2. Browse and compare photos
    3. Set Library view options
    4. Share photos for comments and feedback
    5. Smart Previews
  9. Manage catalogs and files
    1. Lightroom Classic catalog FAQ
    2. How Lightroom Classic catalogs work
    3. Create and manage catalogs
    4. Back up a catalog
    5. Locate missing photos
    6. Create and manage folders
    7. Manage photos within folders
  10. Maps
    1. Work with the Map module
  11. Organize photos in Lightroom Classic
    1. Face recognition
    2. Work with photo collections
    3. Group photos into stacks
    4. Flag, label, and rate photos
    5. Use keywords
    6. Metadata basics and actions
    7. Find photos in the catalog
    8. Work with video in Lightroom Classic
    9. Advanced metadata actions
    10. Use the Quick Develop panel
  12. Process and develop photos
    1. Develop module basics
    2. Create panoramas and HDR panoramas
    3. Flat-Field Correction
    4. Correct distorted perspective in photos using Upright
    5. Improve image quality using Enhance
    6. Work with image tone and color
    7. Masking
    8. Apply local adjustments
    9. HDR photo merge
    10. Develop module options
    11. Retouch photos
    12. Cure red eye and pet eye effects
    13. Use the Radial Filter tool
    14. Use the enhanced Spot Removal tool
  13. Export photos
    1. Export files to disk or CD
    2. Export photos from Lightroom Classic
    3. Publish photos online
    4. Export to hard drive using publish services
    5. Presets for export, and other settings
  14. Work with external editors
    1. External Editing preferences
    2. Open and edit Lightroom Classic photos in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
  15. Slideshows
    1. Create slideshows
    2. Slideshow module panels and tools
    3. Specify the slide layout
    4. Add overlays to slides
    5. Play and export slideshows
  16. Print photos
    1. Print module basics
    2. Print module layouts and templates
    3. Work with print job options and settings
  17. Photo books
    1. Create photo books
  18. Web galleries
    1. Create web galleries
    2. Use the Web module panels and tools
    3. Work with web gallery layouts
    4. Work with web gallery templates and settings
    5. Preview, export, and upload web photo galleries
  19. Keyboard shortcuts
    1. Keyboard shortcuts
  20. Troubleshooting 
    1. Fixed Issues
    2. Known Issues

Plan your backup strategy

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

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 Classic 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 Classic 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 Classic 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.

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


On Mac, Lightroom Classic/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 Classic > 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 Classic, and then the Back Up Catalog option switches to Never.

    Every Time Lightroom Exits

    Backs up the catalog every time you exit Lightroom Classic, 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 Classic each day. If you exit Lightroom Classic 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 Classic 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 Classic more frequently, additional changes are not backed up until the next month.


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

Back up a catalog automatically

  1. Exit Lightroom Classic 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 Classic.

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

    Backup Folder

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

    Test Integrity Before Backing Up

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


    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 Classic. 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 Classic.

    The Lightroom Classic CC Back Up Catalog dialog box

Back up a catalog manually

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

Restore a backup catalog

  1. Locate and unzip the backup file. 

  2. Choose File > Open Catalog.

  3. Navigate to the location of your backed up catalog file.
  4. Select the backed up .lrcat and .lrcat-data files and click Open.

  5. (Optional) Copy the backed up catalog to the location of the original catalog to replace it.


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