How to Delete Old Catalog Backups


Today’s Question: I understand that we should be deleting our Lightroom Classic backups periodically to save disc space. Could you explain how to do this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can delete older backups of your Lightroom Classic catalog by deleting the folders associated with those backups, which by default are stored in a folder called “Backups” within the folder that contains your catalog.

More Detail: Deleting catalog backups is one of the few situations where you actually need to work outside of Lightroom Classic, rather than within Lightroom Classic. The first step is determining where your catalog backups are being stored. You can get this information in the Back Up Catalog dialog.

Start by selecting Edit > Catalog Settings from the menu on Windows, or Lightroom Classic > Catalog Settings on Macintosh. Go to the General tab and from the “Back up catalog” popup choose “When Lightroom next exits”. Close the Catalog Settings dialog and quit Lightroom Classic, and the Back Up Catalog dialog will appear.

In the Back Up Catalog dialog you’ll see a reference to the Backup Folder location. By default, the backup folder will be a “Backups” folder within the folder that contains your catalog.

Within the operating system navigate to the folder that contains the backups of your catalog. There you’ll find folders for each of the backups, with a folder name that includes the year, month, day, and time of the backup. This information can be used to determine which backup folders to delete.

I recommend retaining at least a few recent backups, a backup from perhaps a month or so ago, and a backup from several months ago. As long as Lightroom Classic seems to be behaving normally, all other backups (especially older backups) can be deleted. Simply select the backup folders you want to delete, then right-click and choose “Delete” from the popup menu on Windows or “Move to Trash” on Macintosh.

Note that on Windows deleting these folders will move them to the Recycle Bin, and on Macintosh the folders will be move to the Trash. You’ll need to empty the Recycle Bin or Trash to actually free up the space that had been consumed by the backups.