Copy versus Move in Lightroom


Today’s Question: Would this transfer strategy [discussed in yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter] function as a “backup” strategy as well? I’ve honestly never felt that I’ve had a solid understanding of backing up photos. Over the years I’ve used a “drag and drop” process outside of LR. Luckily I haven’t experienced a hard drive meltdown, yet.

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, the process of migrating photo to a new hard drive in Lightroom Classic does not provide an option for backing up your photos. Lightroom does not include a proper backup feature for photos, so I recommend using third-party software such as GoodSync ( to create a backup of your photos.

More Detail: When you drag-and-drop photos or folders within Lightroom Classic, you are moving the photos (or folders) to a new location. There isn’t exactly an option to copy photos within Lightroom, which is actually a good thing because I think having the option to copy photos within Lightroom would greatly increase the risk of confusion and unwanted duplication within Lightroom.

Lightroom includes an option to backup the catalog, but not exactly an option for backing up your photos. You could use the “Export as Catalog” command to create a full backup of all photos and your catalog, but this would be a time-consuming process. You would need to go to the All Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Then choose Edit > Select All to select all of the photos in your catalog. Then choose File > Expor as Catalog from the menu. You can then navigate to the location (such as another external hard drive) you want to use to store this backup. Make sure the “Export negative files” checkbox is turned on, as that is what causes your photos to be exported along with the new copy of your catalog. Click the Export Catalog to initiate this export to create a full backup.

A better solution, in my mind, is to use third-party software to maintain an ongoing backup of your photos. I highly recommend making use of the built-in feature for backing up your catalog within Lightroom Classic. Then, I recommend using software such as GoodSync ( to backup your photos. This software is able to intelligently synchronize your data, such as to keep a backup external hard drive updated so it is an exact match of the external hard drive you’re using for primary photo storage.

If you’d like help learning how to make use of GoodSync in your workflow, you can find my “Backing Up with GoodSync” course in the GreyLearning library here: