Name and Backup your Lightroom Catalog Properly

My C: was getting a little full a few days ago, which was causing me issues with using Photoshop.  So I started doing a bit of a cleanup of some old folders that were taking up space and could be deleted.

One of those was really large, but it was titled LR5catalog  and I was using LR6 and there was also an LR6catalog file – so Shift+Delete to totally blast it off my hard drive.

Couple days later, go back into LR and……. no catalog to be found!!!

Somewhere along the ways I had got my catalogs confused and not realised that I was using an older version and had deleted my active one!


Hangon…..LR has a backup system and I had been using it…….

But no, dear reader, something had gone wrong there too!

You see, the default backup file location is in the SAME FOLDER AS THE ACTUAL CATALOG!!!!

If you don’t change it to somewhere else (which I’m pretty sure I did as I have the files) or if you change the catalog but don’t reset the backup location, and then you delete the parent folder (like I did)  YOU LOSE EVERYTHING!!

Just to be clear here, it wasn’t my image files, just my LR catalog files with all the editing settings.

It took two days to rebuild it, one to rebuild the catalog from scratch, and one to recreate all the preview files.

I now have the files clearly marked as Active Catalog – DO NOT DELETE and I also have the backup stored in a completely different place, and also marked as Active and not to be deleted.

Also at some point in my past, I had a moment of genius and set LR up to save the .xmp files (the ones with all the info about your LR edits) NEXT TO THE ACTUAL image files – so when I imported everything, all my edits were still there *thank god for that*

SO if you are a LR user, check these two things:

Are your ACTIVE Catalog and Backup files/folders clearly marked so you know which ones they are?

Is your backup destination to another separate folder on your hard drive (or on another actual drive if you have the option?)

Also check where your .xmp are being saved, it might save you some heartbreak too 🙂


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Name and Backup your Lightroom Catalog Properly

  1. Yup, by dumb luck when I was starting out in Photoshop, I saw this tutorial that suggested saving the Lightroom back up to a different location, so I set that up. Seems a bit ridiculous that the default would be to save it to the same place. Good post, and solid advice.

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