Today’s Question: Where are photo edits from the cloud-based version of Lightroom desktop stored? I know the edits to raw files in Lightroom Classic are stored in the catalog and optionally as .XMP files next to the raw files, and the same with Bridge. But how about with the cloud-based version of Lightroom? How do you back up the edits for the photos?
Tim’s Quick Answer: For photos stored in the cloud with the Lightroom desktop application (not Lightroom Classic), the edits are stored in the cloud as well. You can back up the edits by exporting with the “Original” option, which includes the original image plus the settings.
More Detail: The cloud-centric version of Lightroom (not to be confused with Lightroom Classic, though it is obviously confusing) now enables you to manage photos with both local storage and cloud storage options. For local images the metadata is saved to the source image, with an XMP file created or updated for raw captures.
For photos that are stored in the cloud with Lightroom the photos and metadata are stored in the cloud. You can specify that you want copies of the originals stored locally as well, by turning on the “Store a copy of all originals” checkbox on the Cache tab of the Preferences dialog. You can also designate where you want these copies to be stored.
However, enabling that option means you aren’t really taking full advantage of cloud-based storage for your photos. Note, by the way, that Adobe does maintain a backup for your photos that are stored in the cloud, minimizing the risk of any of those source images ever being lost.
Instead of storing a copy of all originals locally, it can be more efficient to only export copies of the cloud-based photos that you want to back up locally along with the settings for the image. To do so you can select the photos you want to back up to local storage, click the sharing icon toward the top-right of the Lightroom interface, and choose the “Original” option. You can then designate the location where you want to save the exported copies and click the Export button. The source raw captures along with an XMP sidecar file containing the metadata for each source raw image will then be downloaded to the location you designated.