“Temporary” Backup

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Today’s Question: You said that you consider Lightroom Classic’s backup during import to be a “temporary” backup. Why is that, and does it mean you don’t recommend using this backup option?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you use the option to create a second copy of your photos during import into your Lightroom catalog, the backup is not what I consider a “complete” backup of the source files. It is still perfectly fine to take advantage of this backup option during import, but I then recommend creating a more complete backup after the import is complete.

More Detail: When importing photos into Lightroom Classic with the “Copy” (rather than “Add”) option, you have the option of creating a second copy of your photos as part of that process. However, the backup copy created when you turn on the “Make a Second Copy To” checkbox in the Import dialog isn’t what I consider a “complete” backup.

When you enable the backup during import, Lightroom will copy the source images being imported to a second location that you specify. However, within the location you select, a subfolder will be created to contain the backup copy of the photos. The name for that folder will not match the name of the folder you are importing your photos into. Instead, the folder will be called “Imported on” with the date of import appended to the folder name.

If you rename the photos during import, that renaming will also be reflected in the backup copy. However, metadata updates you apply during import (such as by using a metadata preset or entering keywords) will not be written to the backup copy of the images. The source images can have those metadata updates applied to the source images (rather than only being included in the catalog) if you have enabled that option in the Catalog Settings dialog.

For these reasons, I treat the “Make a Second Copy To” option during import as a temporary backup solution. I do prefer to make use of this option, so that I have an “extra” backup of my photos immediately upon import into my Lightroom catalog. However, once I’ve then created a synchronization backup for two or more backup drives (using GoodSync, http://timgrey.me/greybackup), I can discard the backup Lightroom created during import.

To be sure, I’m never in a hurry to discard the “extra” backup created when I import photos into Lightroom. But when I need to free up hard drive space on the drive where I store those import backups, I can comfortably delete those backups since I already have two (or more) additional backup copies of all of my photos.