I read a couple of post talking about the same topic but i didn't get an answer (step by step) on how can i backup all my catalg and files (pictures/raws) to another drive (network drive).

So far i manually copied all the raw files to the network drive, plus i run a backup of the catalog. is this enough?

or what should i do? i don't want to lose 100gb of photos with edits :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ RAW+Catalog Backup+Potentially XMP sidecar files is enough. If you don't use sidecars then you don't need that. Its as simple as that. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 16:07

3 Answers 3


Lightroom has three files it depends on: the Lightroom database (.lrcat), the previews database (.lrdata) and the image files themselves.

  1. You need to make sure you have backups of the image files themselves, since LR does not create copies of these images, nor does it edit or change the images in any way. If you lose these images, LR can do nothing to recreate or restore your image.

  2. The Lightroom database (.lrcat) is where LR stores all the edit tasks, history, tags, collections etc, so it is fairly critical. If you lose this database, you lose your edits and settings, but NOT your images.

  3. The previews database is not very critical, but is useful for time savings and performance, but can be easily recreated by LR. If you lose this, LR will simply recreate it.

Personally, I backup my images and the LR database (.lrcat), but not the previews.

Note you can also ask LR to create '.xmp sidecard' files, which essentially create a file for each image that contains the edit 'recipe' for that image. This way you can ensure that edits for an individual image are retained in the same directory as the image itself, making it simpler to backup the edit recipe. If you use .xmp, be sure to back these up as well, and also note that the .xmp does not store all edit history, just the last edits.

A backup is only part of the task, but a good first step. Make sure you cover all possible doom scenarios: having an external hard drive backup of your images, that are stored on you PC is fantastic, until a fire/flood/burglar takes both. So, in this case, be sure you have ANOTHER backup in an offsite location.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The .xmp sidecars are a good idea, they allow Photoshop to read the settings in CameraRAW - however the downside is that .xmp sidecars have a negative impact on performance and even on a SSD you sometimes need to wait for them to be finalized... (which is funny as Bridge writes them a lot quicker) One downside to some people is that .xmp sidecars only save the final settings and no history - depending on workflow that can matter or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – DetlevCM
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 20:05

"Is this enough" is one of the age old debates on backup. Some people are happy with one backup drive, others like 3 or more backups in different locations...

You yourself need to evaluate what is enough for you as a backup. (I personally defend the stance that 2 copies on 2 drives is enough as a backup - but others will differ.)

In terms of using a network drive, if you point Lightroom at the network location via good old explorer it should work just fine. (At least for RAW files it did in my case until I removed the path due to performance issues in Lightroom -> also reduced the library size.)

Having said that, I think a structured PC backup a la Windows Home Server that is created regularly is possibly easier to manage than a manual backup. Additionally, I would worry about performance on a network drive - especially if you work with the thousands of tiny files (mainly previews) that Lightroom creates.

  • \$\begingroup\$ good. I just need to move some old photos because i don't have much space left on this pc. if it works then fine! \$\endgroup\$
    – EsseTi
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 11:41

I don't understand what you exactly meant by "Network Drive"?

If you meant personal SAN (Storage Area Network) of home, then I think that is NOT enough. You should have at least one copy online somewhere, e.g. Gdrive, Dropbox etc. In that case you only need to save the image files (RAW/DNG/JPG) and the catalog file(*.lrcat).

If you mean Gdrive, Dropbox etc. Then you are just fine. Also, try to maintain a offline copy, to keep your collection portable


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