Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

So finally I've enough time to format my pc and install Windows 7, I have Lightroom 4 and I want to know how can I backup my photos, catalog and settings so I can retrieve them in Lightroom 4 after formatting.

The photos are on a separate drive and I won't format that, but the Lightroom 4 catalog is on the Windows drive and this will go away and I want to retrieve it back after formatting.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The photos you can just leave where they are, as long as the drive letter remains the same between installations (it's possible to change the drive letter of a volume, if necessary, in Disk Management).

As for the catalog, the surest way to back it up is to use Lightroom's built-in catalog backup functionality - follow the instructions on this post (Joe Barrett, The Image-Space, "Lightroom Tip - How To Change The Default Backup Location") to set the backup location to a directory on your other drive and invoke a backup immediately. I recommend leaving this option turned on, to protect against catalog loss due to Lightroom crashing and leaving the catalog in an inconsistent or corrupt state.

To restore the backed up catalog, you just need to copy the backed-up catalog to some location on the newly formatted drive, then open it in Lightroom with File->Open Catalog.

To protect against inevitable disk failure, you should also copy both your photos and the backed-up catalog files periodically to another disk and/or to online storage. Using RAID 1 (mirrored disks) for storing your data is a good idea, but does not protect against human error (accidentally deleting everything) - so regular backups are essential.

See also this guide (Rob Sylvan, Lightroomers, "Migrating Your Lightroom Catalog and Photos to a New Computer") for a slightly different approach with screenshots. If you have custom presets this guide will explain how to transfer them.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.