Incremental Backup


Today’s Question: I think I remember that you suggested a program that would perform incremental backups as well as full backups. I run into this problem whenever I add photos to a master file and catalog. The photo file is now very large, and to completely backup a current master and catalog each time an addition is made to Lightroom would take forever. I would like to set a backup program that would do an incremental backup within some set period.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do indeed recommend what in some ways can be thought of as an incremental backup, but that is more along the lines of a one-way synchronization approach to backing up. This helps to streamline the backup process, especially as it relates to the time required to “update” your backup.

More Detail: When it comes to large files such as the “previews” file associated with your Lightroom catalog, an incremental or synchronization backup doesn’t provide a significant benefit. That’s because it isn’t possible to simply “update” the parts of a file that have changed. Instead, every time a file is updated that entire file must be copied to the backup drive.

However, there is no need to backup your entire collection of photos just because you have downloaded new photos. This is the key benefit of an incremental or synchronization backup. When you download new photos, for example, only those new photos need to be copied to your backup hard drive, because all of your existing photos are already on that drive.

There are differences between an incremental and synchronization backup. In general, an incremental backup involves making a copy of files that have changed, but in a way that requires recovery software to restore lost files if you experience a hard drive failure, for example. A synchronization approach involves updating the backup drive so it is an exact copy of the “master” drive, so that a failure is easier to recover from.

The software I have recommended (and continue to use) for a synchronization-based backup solution is called GoodSync. You can learn more about GoodSync here: