Photos and Catalog Backup


Today’s Question: Does the Lightroom backup for the catalog also backup your photos? If not is there a way to accomplish this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, the Lightroom catalog backup feature does not backup your photos. While it would be possible to backup both your photos and the catalog using the “Export as Catalog” command, I recommend using a different solution for backing up your photos.

More Detail: When you use the backup feature in Lightroom, you are only backing up the Lightroom catalog, not your photos. In other words, you’re backing up the information about the photos and not the photos themselves.

As noted in yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, there are some benefits to using the Lightroom catalog backup feature for backing up your catalog, including the option to check the integrity of the catalog and optimize the catalog. Therefore, it is a good idea to use the Lightroom catalog backup feature even if you have another backup solution that is also backing up your catalog.

For your photos you’ll need a different backup solution. I personally prefer a “synchronization” approach to backing up my photos and other data, which is covered in the “Backing Up with GoodSync” video training course in the GreyLearning library. If you’re not a GreyLearning subscriber you can purchase this individual course at a discounted rate using this link:

In theory you could also use the “Export as Catalog” command to backup both your Lightroom catalog and your photos in a single process. However, to make this approach useful you would need to export (and therefore copy) your entire catalog of photos. That could obviously require considerable time. Therefore, I only recommend using the “Export as Catalog” feature as a backup option when you need a one-time solution for copying your Lightroom catalog and photos to a different location, or for backing up everything in one overall process. For an ongoing backup solution I recommend something a bit more streamlined, such as the synchronization approach referenced above.