Is the Lightroom Backup generated at exit a real second backup or just amending the current catalog

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After using Lightroom for years and watching the many excellent videos I have a question that I need a clear answer to and can't find it anywhere concerning the catalog backup.
I want to keep the backup in a place other than the internal hard drive. Is the catalog backup generated by LR upon exiting a second catalog (a true second backup file) or is it simply backing up, that is, appending newly added data to the existing catalog. And if it is a second backup to the main catalog, where is the main catalog located. If that's the case then there will be a LR catalog and a LR catalog backup and this backup can be stored away from the internal drive. See my confusion
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Frank Kohn

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Posted 3 years ago

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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It simply creates a copy of the catalog and places it in a dated folder.

Yes, changing the location of the backup is an excellent plan.
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Frank Kohn

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Thanks.
So, just out of curiosity, where is the original catalog stored?
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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The original catalog can be anywhere you have chosen on an internal or external hard-drive as long as it's not a network drive. You can see its location in LR's Preferences / Catalog Settings.
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Frank Kohn

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I want to automatically backup my catalog to my external hard drive in case the catalog on the Internal Hard drive gets corrupted.
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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You want to keep multiple backups to avoid losing old data if your catalog becomes corrupted.

You want to backup to an external drive to avoid losing everything if your internal drive fails or gets reformatted.

When you Backup on Exit, you are given the opportunity to specify where the backup location is. As Victoria said, the backup catalog copies are merely entire copies of the LR catalog.

And make sure you understand, the term "LR Catalog" refers to just the database of all your photo locations and settings. Your LR Catalog does NOT contain your photos. You are responsible for making copies of those in a sensible alternate location because, with possibly terabytes of photos, that might take days to copy, it is beyond the scope of LR's backup to copy all your photos. LR backup only copies the LR database which is usually a few 10s or 100s of megabytes and only takes a few minutes to copy and test the integrity of. And the point of LR backup is to keep those full-database snapshots so you can go back in time if the current working catalog becomes corrupt, you only lose your most recent work since the last backup, not all your edits..
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Frank Kohn

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Thanks. I fully understand the need to backup my photos. I have them on two other hard drives. My question was whether the backup that LR makes upon exiting is a true second backup. So as I understand from your explanation the primary catalog or database resides on the internal HD where the program sits but the backup is a true backup in case of failure of the riginal database. That I will keep on my external drive with my photos and also copy it to a third drive.
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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You have a choice of where your catalog resides and even how many catalogs you create. Some people make a new one for each client, though I personally only have one.

Go find out where yours is, as described, above. We can't guess where you put it.

To answer your what-is-a-backup question, again, your catalog is a single database file, and a LR backup copies that single database file into a subfolder with the name of the current date-time, so you'll have as many copies of your catalog as there are date-time subfolders under the backup folder.

You'll eventually probably want to thin them out, keeping them all for the recent past, and a few per year for older timeframes, in case some corruption is not detected for a long time and you'll still have copies of the catalog to go back to.

The other thing that helps with catalog corruption is to have LR save your settings to XMP files, probably automatically, so it happens for each photo as you update things. This will allow you to open a previous backup of the catalog, and update or import any changed or new photos since that backup and have those updated/new photos have their current adjustments intact, to the extent of what the XMP contains, rather than starting over. For some people this automatic writing of XMP files slows LR down. And if you are doing this XMP file creation you'd want to decide if you want to backup those to your other photo backup locations along with the photos, or not. I currently have my photos and catalog on a USB3-speed external drive and have a second USB3-external drive of identical or larger size set as the destination of a copy-new-or-changed-files backup job I run every night, overnight.
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Frank Kohn

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Thanks again. So are the settings to XMP files saved automatically or do I have to set that up. Also do you have any recommendations for automatic incremental backup programs?
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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Automatic writing of XMP files is enabled in LR / Prefs - General / Catalog Settings - Metadata


Some people use RoboCopy. I use PTReplicator which has a bit of a quirky UI but is free and you can set up multiple backup jobs to run at various times, as long as the program is loaded:
http://www.karenware.com/powertools/p...

Either of these programs just copies at entire subfolder structure to another place, like if you were using copy/paste in Explorer and told it to skip all the duplicates, so all the files are in the same structure in the new place. It allows various filters and options to you can control how things work. This is not a traditional backup program that keeps a backup in a single huge file, somewhere, and requires an backup-explorer program to see and restore files from. These are just copying files so you use the OS to view or manipulate them just like you would the original files.

Here is an example PTReplicator backup job for my C drive at work to back up any changes to a subfolder on an external drive called R:


Since I have deletion-replication turned on, I also have test-source-drive turned on so if my source drive is offline (not likely for C, but perhaps for my photo hard-drive) it doesn't delete everything in my backup just because the source isn't there.

Another thing to consider is to backup to two different subfolders on alternating days of the week, and maybe a third place once a week, so if you do something bad to your originals but don't notice immediately, and a backup job replicates those changes, then you'll have a second place to get them from that wasn't backed up to except the day before. If you have the space you can do a separate backup for each day of the week. To do either of these, get your initial backup job set up how you want, then make a copy of it and change the schedules so they don't overlap. You can also highlight a job and run it whenever you want. I have one of these set for my current month's photos (that I have to edit the source and destination paths of every month) so if I don't have the time to have it check the entire terabyte of files for changes, I can at least get my current photos copied more quickly.
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Frank Kohn

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So I've checked some setting and the location of my backups and now I'm confused. I have it set to backupeverytime I exit but it reads that the last backup was 10/10/2014 which is clearly not the case. I never had any trouble exiting before but now when I tried to exit I got a message that LR is not finished writing metadata changes into XMP even though I haven't made any changes recently. Ideas?
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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The message you got about XMPs not being finished is because you've just turned it on and it's actually writing XMP files for every adjusted photo because there aren't any XMP files, right? That will take some time so I'd leave it overnight and make sure your computer is plugged in and set to not sleep at least this once.

When you exit, LR should ask if you want to do a backup and you can do it or skip? I assume you're actually not skipping the backup and letting it take it's few minutes of testing and copying, and it's not stopping prematurely because you're out of space on the program/temp drive as well as not out-of-space on the backup drive? Do you watch to make sure it's finishing?
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Frank Kohn

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When I looked at the settings XMP was already checked so the XMP files should already have been generated .And after exiting it did say that the last backup was today. Wierd.There is plenty of space on the program and backup drive. I'm thinking that this may all have something to do with being on LR mobile and upgrading to 5.7. It looks like 5.7 doesn't know that I'm on LR mobile and I probably installed 5.7 around he date of the former last backup. I don't recall ever having allowed my catalog to be backed up to the cloud if that is even possible. Does being on LR mobile do anything to the backup location? The XMP is still running although this is the first time I've seen the message. I'll keep the machine awake tonight and see what happens.
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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What happens when you exit LR, does it ask you to do a backup or not, and if it does, do you choose to let it, or not? I'd suggest you check what backup subfolders actually exist under the location LR is telling you as it exits and wants you to confirm the backup, and if you've just changed this to another folder, look for any .lrcat files on your hard-drive to determine where it has been backing up to, previously. Match up the subfolders you find with what has occurred since 10/10/2014.

According to Adobe Press, LR Mobile was introduced with LR 5.4 April 7, 2014. And the Adobe LR Updates page says LR 5.6 came out July 30th, and LR 5.7 came out November 18th, so your last backup was not close to either of those dates. LR Mobile and the cloud have nothing to do with LR backup, either, as that occurs to a local folder on your hard-drive, not the cloud. And of course, LR backup works with the standalone version and the cloud-licensed version of LR just the same and only the cloud-licensed LR can do LR Mobile.
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I occasionally get that XMP message and usually it's because I've just changed a bunch of files, perhaps via a global sync across many selected images, and am exiting before it's done. When I get that message, I usually just cancel and let it run another minute or so, and I'm fine. It probably depends on how many images are in the folders you've visited in the current session and how many you've changed.
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Frank Kohn

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It does ask me if I want to backup after I cancel the XMP screen and quit. So must have been user error. Glad I checked. I'll change my backup location to my external HD and then also copy each new backup to another HD. Thanks for your help. Chalk these things up to typical windows ghosts.