Today’s Question: I keep my photos and their edits on an external hard drive and would like to back them up to a second external drive. What is the best way to do that? I’m using Lightroom Classic.
Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two basic options I would recommend here. For an ongoing backup that you’ll update regularly I recommend using software such as GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) to create a synchronized backup of the external hard drive. For a one-time backup you could also use the “Export as Catalog” command to back up the catalog and photos in one process.
More Detail: For backing up photos (or other important data) on an external hard drive I recommend creating a backup that is an exact match of the source data. This approach makes it much easier to recover from a hard drive failure or other data loss compared to other approaches to backing up data. I use and recommend GoodSync software (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) for this purpose. With GoodSync you can define a backup job that will maintain a backup that is an exact copy of the source data, which you run periodically to keep that backup updated.
If the Lightroom Classic catalog is stored on the internal hard drive rather than an external hard drive then the catalog obviously won’t be backed up as part of a job with GoodSync created for an external hard drive. Regardless of where the catalog is stored, I recommend using the built-in backup feature in Lightroom Classic to back up the catalog, in part because doing so enables you to perform error-checking on the catalog and optimize the catalog as part of the overall purpose. You could set Lightroom Classic to store those backups on the external hard drive with the photos so that the backup would also get backed up as part of your workflow for backing up the photos.
Another option if you wanted to create a one-time backup for some purpose would be to use the “Export as Catalog” command. Start by going to the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Librarty module. Make sure there are no filters set for the photos, and then choose Edit > Select None from the menu so that no photos are selected.
You can then choose File > Export as Catalog from the menu. Navigate to the storage location where you want to create this backup, making sure there is enough space on that drive for the photos and the catalog. You can give the backup a name in the “Save As” field. Also, make sure the “Export negative files” checkbox, which will cause the photos to be copied along with the catalog copy you’re creating as part of this process.
In general, I would say there are very few scenarios where you need to use the “Export as Catalog” command to back up your photos, though it is a helpful option for creating a backup of both the catalog and all photos. Generally, I recommend simply using software such as GoodSync to back up your photos and other important data. You can learn more about GoodSync here: