Wrong error message: Lightroom was unable to back up the catalog named

  • 1
  • Problem
  • Updated 1 year ago
Lightroom was unable to back up the catalog named

This error message is wrong! It suggest that the problem is the destination harddrive, I have found that the problem is the source HD for the lrcat file is full!

I'm an experineced user of LR and computers. I have used LR since version 1 and have 163000 images in my catalog. Suddenly I can't backup my catalog. Now I will upgrade to LR5 and Before that I want to be sure the LR4 catalog is OK.

I did a straigt copy of the LR4 catalog file to Another hard drive. Renamed it and backed it up to the normal back up HD. Worked fine.

I want to be sure not to loose any information. I will have a LR4 catalog I can trust Before I upgrade.

How shall I proceed?

Photo of Lotta Wesslund

Lotta Wesslund

  • 2 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes

Posted 4 years ago

  • 1
Photo of Steve Sprengel

Steve Sprengel, Champion

  • 2586 Posts
  • 323 Reply Likes
The error message seems correct to me. In your case the last part of the message "and your main catalog's drive" seems to cover the situation when the source-drive is full. Apparently your catalog is on the SSD E: drive which is relatively close to full compared to the other drives.

I believe LR thinks a drive is full when the size of the catalog multiplied by a small number, maybe 2 or 3, is larger than the free space, so if your catalog is a couple GB then the SSD freespace is less than that.

When you upgrade to LR5 it will want to make a copy of your current LR4 catalog and upgrade it. That will likely require a bit more space than even the backup wants.

So if you cannot clean up space on your SSD, then move your LR4 catalog and any settings that you have stored with your catalog to another drive and use it from there--by double-clicking on it from that new location and make sure that all works with LR4. Once you're satisfied it does, then upgrade to LR5, perhaps the trial version, first, then have LR5 open your LR4 catalog and do its upgrades and make sure LR5 is working ok with it, then copy the new LR5-upgraded-from-LR4 catalog to the SSD and continue to use it from there, although you will probably want to clear some space from the SSD so LR5 will be able to back up your catalog.

There is an issue with LR5.0 where it clears some older spotting feathering from LR4 and before, when it upgrades the catalog, so you probably want to start with LR 5.3 using it in Trial mode until you're satisfied it is ok, then pay for the update.

You can get LR 5.3 from http://www.adobe.com/downloads/updates
Photo of Lotta Wesslund

Lotta Wesslund

  • 2 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Thank you for your answer Steve. The main drive for LR is an SSD only for Lightroom. The lrcat file is about 3.3 GB, the rest is generated previews. Free space on the SSD is 2.8 GB.

I want to use my SSD for Lightroom (until I can replace it with a larger SSD), gives better performance. The only way to release space I can see is to delete the previews. I assume this is safe, the previews will be regenerated and I will be able to perform a backup using LR.

I have copied the main lrcat-file to another drive and backup using LR worked fine. Noticed that the backuped catalog is a Little bit smaller than the original lrcat-file. Why is that? Optimized catalog takes less space?

Is a copied lrcat-file equal to a backup file using LR?

I want to be 100% sure I don't miss any data. A lot of work has been done to the catalog, it contains 163.000 photos.

I have a subscription for LR and Photoshop, can't see why I should use the trial version. I hope it will work fine with LR 5.3.

Now I will delete all my previews. Backup my LR 4.4 catalog. Upgrade to LR 5.3
and hope it will work fine.

I really like LR, it gives me overview of all my Pictures.Have been using it for many years.
Photo of Steve Sprengel

Steve Sprengel, Champion

  • 2586 Posts
  • 323 Reply Likes
A backup of your LR catalog is a file-copy of the LRCAT file, yes.

Optimizing compresses out the deleted database objects so it could become a little smaller.

If you haven't, already, you should be backing up your catalog periodically when you exit via the settings in LR.

Depending on how many GB your previews are taking up, I'd still recommend copying your LR4 catalog to one of the other hard-drives with more space, then open that once so LR remembers where it is, then upgrade to LR5 with the LR4 catalog on the drive with more space. Once you've done that you can move the LR5 version of your catalog back to the SSD. That way your LR4 catalog and your LR5 catalog don't both have to take up space on the SSD.
Photo of Leroy Schulz

Leroy Schulz

  • 12 Posts
  • 2 Reply Likes
I'm glad I came across this thread. I had the same issue of Lightroom 5.x throwing the "unable to backup catalog" error message. Permissions were fine, and I had plenty of space on the several drives that I instructed LR to backup the catalog TO.

But this thread pointed out, the issue was a shortage of space on **the OS** drive. I cleared up space on that drive and the backup successfully completed.

Thank you!
Photo of Simar

Simar, Employee

  • 45 Posts
  • 7 Reply Likes