Lightroom: In need of a pro quality Backup / Archiving / Replication Feature

  • 3
  • Idea
  • Updated 6 years ago
We need a better solution for backups/archiving/replication of catalogs and master files (RAWs or Jpegs, you get the point)...

For those of us that don't have a single computer with tons of attached storage, the current multi-catalog management features are very weak.

I am not suggesting that the multi-catalog approach is a good one to segregate images by shoot or categories, that would nullify the advantage of being able to search on keywords, collections, etc. But when you are on the road with a laptop, are working on images and want to sync them back to your master catalog, you are stuck with a half-cooked solution.

Also, I need to back up my master catalog on another drive with the RAW files effectively. Again, the Export catalog or Import from Another Catalog functions are not powerful enough. There is the possibility of creating a backup copy of the imported image to an alternate location when importing, but this does not create a backup catalog. You still have to do that yourself...

A bit of background:

- I have a working catalog on my laptop. It holds the images I am working on currently and the RAW files are on the laptop disk.

- I backup these images to a removable drive unto which I have a "master" catalog containing all images and RAW files on that drive.

- I also maintain a second copy of this "master" catalog onto a second removable drive. It is a mirror copy of the first one but pointing to the same RAW files on this second drive.

I am currently using the Import from Another Catalog function to move images around from the laptop's catalog, to the first master catalog and to the third. This is the only way to ensure LR recognizes the image duplicates on subsequent "Import from Another Catalog"s. If you simply import in both, they are considered as separate images.

My problems with this:

1 - There is no real compare/merge tools. You are basically relying on LR's view on what has changed but cannot see what has changed specifically. It would be great to have a compare/merge view between two catalogs and have the ability to push changes from one side to the other and have at least the history list of each images to compare. Similar to any file compare/merge tools on the market.

2 - There is no catalog and RAW (master files) synchronization tool. It would be nice to have an automated function to replicate a catalog and it's master files (RAWs) to a second catalog. As soon as changes are done to the first, replicate that in the second (or triggered manually).

The current approach I think most have is to just backup the master files and store LR catalog backups on backup locations. Then, if needed, copy back the LR backups and master files in the new location (let's say after the computer was replaced). But I think it would be a much more elegant solution to always do it in LR terms, catalogs to catalogs. I would like to do all of it from LR and not have to move files around in Finder or Windows Explorer. The catalog is a delicate sql database, we need tools to deal with it effectively.

I know there are ways to do that now and I have built my own set of tasks and rules to do so. But Lightroom becoming the tool of choice for professionals to catalog and organize images, it seems to me this is a must have and a deeply missing feature.
Photo of Andre Malenfant

Andre Malenfant

  • 65 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes

Posted 6 years ago

  • 3
Photo of Axiom

Axiom

  • 111 Posts
  • 9 Reply Likes
in relation to the lightroom not being shareable - which if it did, your issues would be more limited to backup software requirements - I use FreeFileSync
it's lean, mean, and does comparison syncing - and over networks.
I've found it's the only practical solution to migrate my catalogues around.
You can even have it "sync/backup" to multiple locations.
So I have it sync my desktop to laptop (and back) and externals - so all locations have the same files, at the same time, and only the "new/modified" files are affected, so it's pretty quick.
It does "cloud" also if you simply point it to your local cloud folder, and let the cloud software do the updates.
Throw in more complexity with "versioning" and you have a "backup" of the last version of the modified files as well.
Photo of Scott Martin

Scott Martin

  • 197 Posts
  • 15 Reply Likes
I personally think Pro Backups should be managed outside of Lightroom...
Photo of Axiom

Axiom

  • 111 Posts
  • 9 Reply Likes
true scott... I'm leaning to think the OP is more in need of a sharing and collaborative approach covered in another thread... but i figured I'd chime in with a small solution that may meet most of the needs described above - short of merging lol.
Photo of Andre Malenfant

Andre Malenfant

  • 65 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Sorry to come this late... I was busy on the other thread ;)

LR is a pretty good cataloging tool and as photo collections grows comes the need to keep archives separate. Since I like the LR GUI and tools, I keep a master catalog for the complete collection (I might have to split at some point, still under 100K), on a removable drive + mirror for backup purposes. (I am constantly travelling for now so a third copy is difficult to do but back home I have a third copy.)

I wish that LR would give me better tools to work with multiple catalogs, let me move file around easily from one catalog to another (better than the Import from Another Catalog feature) and provide and compare feature to check the actual changes from one catalog to another.

One interesting feature would be to be able to configure an "archive" catalog, where all files imported would also be imported simultaneously (asynchronously is fine) to it and changes propagated automatically later on. This could be automatic, behind the scenes or triggered by the user. You can already define a second location for backups during import but that only takes care of the master file. Why not create an archive catalog at the same time.

Then, that would also open the door to catalog + master files mirroring so that second and third copies is created automatically, on different volumes that can then be backed-up somewhere else with a proper backup tool.

Combine that with centralized catalogs for multi-user and you have a pretty good solution for archiving and small teams.

I am not suggesting LR does off-line or tape backups, etc. I am simply suggesting that LR adds the concept of archive catalogs and centralized catalogs and it would be even better if the master files would also me synchronized across multiple locations. LR is definitely single-user, single-computer centric and I think this is preventing us to have a better integrated solution, that could become a greater tool to implement a clean photographer's workflow. Archiving, collaboration and backups are part of the equation.

P.S. Thanks for the FreeFileSync suggestion. I use ChronoSync for backup/mirroring and it could definitely be a short term option for a "wannabe" collaborative environment.