A Better Way to Back Up


Today’s Question: I work exclusively in Lightroom Classic and work on an external drive with nothing on my computer. Backups are critical but when I drag and drop the folder [containing the catalog] to the backup it does not give the option to replace but copies it. The result is the latest folder is inside the prior folder and the process takes 2-3 hours. What am I doing wrong and how do I do it correctly to replace?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend using Lightroom Classic to back up the catalog, I strongly recommend using a synchronization-based backup solution rather than copying files through the operating system, and I recommend discarding older backup copies of the catalog.

More Detail: The built-in catalog backup feature in Lightroom Classic includes options for checking the catalog for errors and optimizing the catalog, which is why I recommend using this backup option even if you are already backing up the catalog with other software.

Rather than depending on an approach that involves using the operating system to manually copy files you want to make an additional backup copy of, I recommend using software that can streamline this workflow. I use GoodSync software (http://timgrey.me/greybackup), for example, to back up my photos and other important files. With this approach only new or updated files are backed up, which can save considerable time. In addition, with this type of approach the backup is an exact match of the original, which is particularly helpful if you ever need to recover from a backup.

Finally, I recommend deleting older copies of your Lightroom Classic catalog backups rather than retaining the clutter and additional storage requirements of numerous backups. When deleting old catalog backups I typically keep the most recent few backups, a backup from several months ago, and perhaps one backup from about six months ago. Keeping older backup copies provides a potential solution in the event that a backup represents a catalog that had already become corrupted, though this is not a very likely scenario.