We've got 4 catalogs running on our production computer (Families, Weddings, Fashion, Personal). All of these catalogs contain images that we want to retain long term.

When our hard drive filled up, I moved all the original "raw" images over to our NAS (network attached storage) in order to free up space.

When we went back into the catalogs, we saw a "ghosted" folder of those pictures, since the raws were missing. Later, we needed to recover on of those images, and since it was on the NAS, all of the LR edits were lost.

I need a way to archive the images to the NAS, delete them from the primary computer, and still retain all of the Lightroom edits in case we need to recover the images.

What is the right way to achieve this?


3 Answers 3


The easy way: Use LR to move them.

  1. Add the NAS folder to the folder list
  2. Open the local folder in the library view
  3. drag the images from the local folder to the NAS folder.

Note that this will lose the undo stack!

The better way: move them in the OS, then tell LR where you moved them to.

  1. Quit LR
  2. Do the move as you did, best to move the entire folder
  3. Restart LR
  4. in the Folder view you'll see the folder is greyed out with a question mark, right click on that folder and choose "find missing folder"
  5. Navigate to the NAS and select the same root folder
  6. wait.

Note that this is the way I highly encourage you to do it. And you will not loose your edits this way, or your undo stack. (At least I haven't, and I do that all the time.)


Lightroom editing is non-destructable, meaning that it does not touch the RAW image itself. Instead it records your edits as actions, and only performs them at time of export, and only does them on the exported image.

Lightroom keeps these 'edits' in the Lightroom database, which presumably is located on your primary computer (this should be backed up as well).

There is no reason why you can not maintain Lightroom links to images on your computer as well as the NAS, since LR does not touch the images, they will not be impacted. Therefore, the simplest method it to move these images to the NAS via LR interface itself. Simply go into Lightroom Library Module, under Folders, and click on the "+", then 'Add Folder, and choose one that is on your NAS drive. Then simply drag the images or image folders from your computer, to the folder on the NAS. Lightroom will physically move the images, and update the catalog at the same time.

If you wish to remove images from the LR catalog itself, but still have them available in the future in LR, the best way to do this is the select the images or folders, then "Export as Catalog" and then delete them from the primary catalog. By doing this, you effectively are 'archiving' and you can open this 'archived' LR Catalog anytime you wish. This works especially well in cases where you have also moved the images to your NAS for storage.


To quickly answer your question, you can easily copy the image(s) you want to edit back to its original location or you can click on the question mark on the "ghosted" images and tell Lightroom where to find them and none of your edits will be lost.

I would like to also point out that NAS is not a good backup solution, here is a good post on AVForums about that http://www.avforums.com/forums/networking-nas/1497419-nas-not-backup.html

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the NAS comment. I agree that a nas on it's own is not a backup solution. But I'm not talking about "backup" as much as "archive". Our backup strategy is to use the cloud. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2012 at 18:37

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