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Thread: LR 4.0 Backups and exports

  1. #1
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    LR 4.0 Backups and exports

    I am reading the latest Martin Evening book on LR 4.0 and have a question about backups. First, if I backup to an external drive, do the original RAW files get backed up there as well? Related to this question, obviously if the external drive is not connected then a backup cannot be made unless I change destination to some folder on the laptop. Also related, does EXPORTING the entire catalog, with negatives to the external drive do the same thing that a backup does? Any help appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Hi Victor, welcome to the forum.

    To be totally clear, the Lightroom catalog backup that you run on exit only ever backups the catalog. Backing up your image files is your responsibility, so the answer to the first question is "Not by Lightroom, you have to do it yourself". Of course there are many backup utilities available (some free, some not so free) that would allow you to incrementally backup your image files.....Chronosync is one such utility I hear mentioned a lot for the Mac, plus of course you have the Time Machine function.

    Your second point is correct, so best to make sure the external drive IS connected before taking a catalog backup?

    Your final question, I guess the answer technically is "yes" although I believe you would lose things like Publish Services in doing that. To be honest, the Export as Catalog function wasn't really designed as a backup process, and it's a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.....a properly structured incremental backup system is, in my opinion, a far more efficient means of protecting your Lightroom environment.
    Jim

    Desktop: i7-930, 12gb RAM, 2 x SDD, 3 x Internal HDD, Win7 Pro 64bit
    Cameras: 5D MkIII, 7D

  3. #3
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    OK Thank you so much for the help. So then, in the case of a catastrophic loss, catalogs and originals on the computer are wiped out. It is up to me to back up original RAW files on the external drive AND to back up the Lightroom catalogs on the ext. drive as well. OK. In the case of an import from an SD card which I take from the camera to the laptop, Lightroom sees it and imports the original file to a Lightroom file. Then allows me to destroy the files on the SD card. I guess this is a source of my confusion as well. The original RAW file seems, to me anyway, somehow linked or attached to the catalog file.

  4. #4
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    Victor, there's a couple of things you need to make sure you fully understand:

    1. Your image files, Raw or any other type, are not IN Lightroom, they are only referenced by it, i.e Lightroom contains pointers to all the files that you import. If you move things around outside Lightroom, the links get broken and you'll get 'missing file or folders' appearing in the Lightroom Library module.

    2. When you import new pictures, e.g. from your SD card, you are expected to Copy (or Copy as DNG) them to a hard drive. At the same time you are given the option in the Import Panel to "Make a Second Copy"....if you choose this option you can specify a different drive from the location that you specify for the primary copy. Note that if you use this option, the copy is made but the files are not referenced by Lightroom, i.e. you can't 'see' them from within Lightroom.
    The purpose of this 'second copy' is really a byte-for-byte copy of the contents of the SD card (assuming you select all the files on the card to import), so that once completed you now have two copies of the files on hard disk so you can go ahead and re-use the SD card. I would think some people use this 'second copy' as their primary image backup method, but note that the structure of that second copy is fixed, and so does not replicate the structure of the prime copy.....so not easy to use if you ever need a wholesale restore.

    3. As I said in my first post, the catalog backup which you can take on exiting Lightroom ONLY backs up the catalog database, nothing else. Many people advise ensuring that this backup is taken to an external drive, which is good advice if that's your only backup. My routine is a little different, as I work on the basis that there are TWO threats that I need to guard against: file security, i.e. ensuring that I have multiple versions of my catalog backup to protect against a creeping database corruption that I may not spot for a few days or weeks, and fire security, now more commonly known as disaster recovery. This is the need to protect against threats ranging from hard drive failure through to complete destruction of my home and surroundings. So my own backup routine is as follows:

    a) On import I do use the "second copy" function which copies the files to an external hard drive. These are my disposable copies that I hope never to use, as they do not reflect my prime structure.....so in reality they're only needed as an instant backup for an hour or two until my 'main' backup run is triggered. They also act as a source of recovery should I delete files from within Lightroom which I then later regret. So once the import is complete I am then free to eject and reuse the memory card (CF in my case).

    b) During import my 'prime' version of the imported files are copied into a date-based folder structure (using a standard Lightroom template) onto a dedicated internal drive.

    c) After the import session is complete, I have Lightroom backup the catalog (file security). I allow this backup to be taken to the default 'Backups' sub-folder on the same drive and adjacent to the catalog. Because these backups are date/time-stamped they provide an automatic versioning system....every few months (usually longer!) I manually clear out some of the many copies in that folder, but I'll always keep at least the last dozen or so, plus the last one of each month for the last year. At the same time as doing that housekeeping I'll also do the same for the "second copy" of the imported files.

    d) Then when the Lightroom catalog backup has completed, I trigger my own "disaster recovery" backup utility. This does several things, firstly taking a backup of the contents of my catalog folders....this includes catalog and backups folder, but not previews cache (on the basis the latter can be recreated at will)....so yes, I do take backups of the backups, remember I'm dealing with two threats in respect of the catalog. Then my image folder structure is backed up, but as the utility allows for incremental backup the newly imported files only will get copied and added to the backup of previous files. I also include my Lightroom settings folder structure in this backup run. There are plenty of other non-Lightroom related stuff also included, but that's not relevant here. The backup run copies to three locations: a simple external drive, a NAS drive, and a portable external drive. The latter is actually a set of three portable drives which I cycle offsite, thus providing recovery against a serious local disaster as well as a form of backup versioning.

    As I said, it's important to be clear in what you can do backup-wise using Lightroom, and what you need to do yourself. There have been far too many instances here in the past of users losing their entire image collection because they "thought it was included in the Lightroom backup". I hope this post helps clarify things for you.
    Jim

    Desktop: i7-930, 12gb RAM, 2 x SDD, 3 x Internal HDD, Win7 Pro 64bit
    Cameras: 5D MkIII, 7D

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