Is a Catalog Backup Complete?


Today’s Question: If a Lightroom Classic catalog is saved as a backup, are the collections saved as well, when restored from the saved backup?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, when you backup your Lightroom Classic catalog, collections are preserved as part of that backup. In fact, all information about your photos contained within the catalog, meaning everything you see in Lightroom Classic, will be preserved by that backup.

More Detail: When you use the built-in backup feature in Lightroom Classic, the backup represents a copy of the complete catalog file, which has an “lrcat” filename extension, as in “Lightroom Catalog”. The backup actually compresses that catalog backup into a ZIP file, which both makes the backup consume less hard drive space and also helps ensure you won’t accidentally open a backup catalog rather than the primary catalog file.

As a complete copy of the Lightroom Classic catalog, that backup will contain all of the information about your photos that can otherwise be found within your primary Lightroom Classic catalog. So, if you needed to recover from a backup of the catalog, you would not lose any information about your photos other than information that had been added after the backup catalog was actually created.

You could, of course, back up your Lightroom Classic catalog file using other backup software outside of Lightroom Classic. However, even if you’re backing up the catalog through other means, I still recommend using the Lightroom Classic backup feature for two reasons.

First, as part of the backup process you can have Lightroom Classic check the catalog for errors. This can help catch any corruption issues early, potentially resolving those issues before they become serious. A corrupted catalog can cause you to lose considerable information about your photos, of course.

Second, you can enable an option to have the catalog file optimized after the backup is complete, which can help improve overall performance in Lightroom Classic.

So, be sure to use the built-in backup feature in Lightroom Classic, so you’ll have greater confidence that the information contained within the catalog will be preserved and protected. However, also keep in mind that the catalog backup is only backing up the catalog, not your photos. So you’ll still need to use another solution for backing up your photos as well, such as the GoodSync software I use and recommend (