Today’s Question: I really like the idea of keeping my Lightroom Classic catalog on an external drive so I can use it with both my desktop and laptop computer. What is the suggested workflow for backing up the external drive and would you have your photos on that external drive as well?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You can keep your Lightroom Classic catalog and photos on the same external hard drive to enable working on different computers simply by connecting the hard drive to the computer you want to use. I recommend backing up that drive with software such as GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup), though I would also use Lightroom Classic to backup the catalog for maintenance purposes.
More Detail: The Lightroom Classic catalog can’t be used across a network, so if you want to be able to work in Lightroom Classic on more than one computer, you’ll need to move the catalog between computers. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply keep the catalog on an external hard drive that can be moved between computers.
Keep in mind that performance will generally suffer to some extent when keeping your Lightroom Classic catalog on an external rather than internal hard drive. Therefore, if you are going to keep your catalog on an external hard drive you’ll want to choose a drive with high performance, such as an SSD drive.
You can also keep your photos on the same external hard drive so that both the catalog and photos being managed by that catalog are on the same drive. This makes it easy to switch between computers and work with your catalog and photos, as long as you have Lightroom Classic installed and activated on the computer you want to work on.
To backup the catalog and photos on an external hard drive I recommend a synchronization approach. I use GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) for this purpose, but there are other backup solutions that provide similar features.
However, even if you’re using other software such as GoodSync to backup your catalog, I still recommend using backup feature in Lightroom Classic to backup your catalog. That’s because Lightroom Classic enables you to scan your catalog for errors and optimize the catalog as part of the backup process, which can help alert you to potential problems with your catalog and also help improve overall performance.