Catalog Backup Considerations


Today’s Question: If I’m backing up the drive with all my images and Lightroom each night to a cloud site and multiple external hard drives, is there an advantage to backing up the Lightroom Catalog in Lightroom? It can be time consuming and if my daily back up is providing the same level of “protection,” what’s the value?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key advantage to using Lightroom to backup your catalog in addition to any other backups you may be performing is that Lightroom enables you to check the integrity of your catalog and optimize the catalog as part of the backup process.

More Detail: Obviously if you have an excellent backup workflow that provides you with redundant copies of your Lightroom catalog, then the option within Lightroom to backup the catalog may seem redundant. At least in concept there is no need to have a Lightroom version of your catalog backup if you have another perfectly good backup to restore from in the event of a problem.

However, Lightroom also includes the option to check the integrity of your catalog and to optimize the catalog as part of the catalog backup process. Both options are available as checkboxes within the “Back Up Catalog” dialog in Lightroom.

The “Test integrity before backing up” option will cause the catalog to be checked for any problems that could ultimately lead to a corrupted catalog file. I highly recommend employing this option whenever you backup your catalog from Lightroom, to help minimize the risk of a corrupt catalog that could cause data loss.

The “Optimize catalog after backing up” option will cause Lightroom to perform some housekeeping chores for your catalog. You can also find this option on the File menu if you want to optimize the catalog outside the context of backing up your catalog. Optimizing the catalog with this process can help improve overall performance. Therefore I recommend performing this task every time you backup your Lightroom catalog (or about once a month if you aren’t using the Lightroom catalog backup feature), or anytime you notice degraded performance in Lightroom.

It is also worth noting that it is a good idea to backup your Lightroom catalog to a location that is on a separate storage device from your original catalog. For example, if you store your Lightroom catalog on the internal hard drive on your computer, you can store the backup copies on an external hard drive.