Synchronized Deletion

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Today’s Question: What happens when I delete a synchronized photo [in Lightroom]? Is it deleted everywhere? Generally I want to keep my photos on my home computer, where I do my own backups. I don’t want to store them in the cloud. If I delete them on my phone, what happens on my PC?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you are using the cloud-based Lightroom CC, deleting a photo from any device will cause that photo to be permanently deleted from every device, including your computer at home. If you are using Lightroom Classic CC (as is the case here), deleting a photo from a synchronized location (rather than the original) will only remove the synchronized copies, and will not delete your original photo.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC are very similar (and somewhat interactive) when it comes to synchronizing photos. That said, there is a fundamental difference between the two in terms of how synchronization happens.

With Lightroom CC, all of your original photos are synchronized to the cloud, and available on all devices via the Lightroom CC application on a computer, app on a mobile device, or web browser through the Lightroom site (https://lightroom.adobe.com/).

Because Lightroom CC is synchronizing all of your original photos, the idea is that the cloud-based storage becomes your primary storage. Therefore, when you delete a photo that is synchronized via Lightroom CC from any platform that enables you to access those photos, all copies of that photo will be deleted. In other words, the photo will no longer be available anywhere unless you have a separate backup copy.

With Lightroom Classic CC, synchronization involves proxies of your photos rather than the original source images. Therefore, deleting from a mobile device, web browser, or copy in a collection will not cause the original source capture to be deleted. Keep in mind, of course, that with the Lightroom Classic CC desktop application it is indeed possible to delete the original source image file, which would cause that photo to be removed from all locations, such as a synchronized collection.

It is important for photographers to understand the fundamental differences between Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC, so they can both make a decision about which option is better suited to their workflow, and also be sure they are using an appropriate workflow for managing their photos.