I'm trying to work out a backup strategy for my photos using Lightroom. Backing up the Lightroom catalogue is no problem but then there are the photos themselves, so I'm looking for some feedback.

Currently for me photography is a sideline to my main job, so I just take photos where and when I can, and the majority are either family photos, or interesting/documenting photos that I have no intention of trying to sell. But some I do try and sell as a form of Art Photography.

This is what I've been doing up to now.

All within Lightroom

  1. Import photographs straight into Lightroom from my camera.

  2. Photos are initially stored on a local drive on my laptop (laptop is connected to an external monitor etc., but has limited space)

  3. I split the files between ones I might use commercially and family/general ones.

  4. The commercial ones are moved to another folder (COMMMERCIAL) on the local drive.

  5. The others are moved to a RAID-1 network drive, these are then uploaded to Flickr.

Once a week outside of Lightroom:

  1. Copy contents of COMMERCIAL folder to a network drive as backup.

  2. Backup the Lightroom catalog and copy to the network drive and the Cloud.


  1. I only have a Lightroom-compatible backup of the COMMERCIAL data( by this I mean a backp of the original files plus catalog with all lightroom changes to get final processed image)

  2. I only have an offsite backup of the non-commercial data (via Flickr), but these are the final images not the original images.

I can't keep all my originals on the laptop and just backup to a network drive because I don't have enough disk space and no space for expansion. I could have a USB drive but then I would always have to have it when I use my laptop away from the office.

I keep all files on my local computer until processed because this is quicker and more reliable.

So ideally I would just upload all my images to Amazon S3 to have an offsite backup, but it would take forever.

Currently COMMERCIAL is 10GB and NONCOMMERCIAL is 200GB, although I expect most to rise significantly because alot of the NONCOMMERCIAL is only in JPG format but now only shoot in RAW.

A broadband speed check shows by download speed is 17Mbs and the all important upload speed is 1.2Mbs

I dont use xmp or smart previews. There is no point in me using xmp as I can backup the catalogue okay its the files themselves that are the problem.

What is clear is that because Lightroom doesnot modify files it makes backups easier as I only have to backup the original files once because they are never modified UNLESS I rename them or move them, thats the awkward part.

Worth noting I categorise my photographs into folders by Year/Location. Basically I remember photos by where they were took rather than when. This is the most useful categorisation for me but because I visit some locations rather often they benefit fdrom being split by year to be manageable.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This question is more about file backups over photography \$\endgroup\$
    – thebtm
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @thebtm no its specifically about backups in the context of photography and lightroom. You cant just treat all your files the same when considering backups \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 22:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I am a Backup and Storage Administrator, you look at all backups as a file backup when considering backup solutions \$\endgroup\$
    – thebtm
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 22:08
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "How should I improve" is really open ended. What are your goals? What amount of data are we talking about(for each set)? What is your budget if any? What is your internet upload speed? Have you tried smart previews? What amount of images do you desire to store full resolution locally? What is a "Lightroom-compatible backup"? Do you use XMP sidecar files? So many questions I would want answered before I could recommend anything beyond just getting a big NAS and CrashPlan. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 1:48
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Like "what is this effect?" questions, "how can I improve my backup strategy?" does not really describe the problem. Could you phrase the question in a way that can be more directly answered? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 2:53

2 Answers 2


There are many solutions for Computer/Server backups. One that I use right from Lightroom is that I run a NAS (Network Attached Storage) that is in RAID 5 where Lightroom backs up its catalog and imports photos to both my computer and the NAS as the same time.

Other solutions that you can get are looking into backup software that backs up your data to multiple locations. You can backup to cloud, disk, and tape.

If you are looking for a Windows-only-based backup that is more for a small office or business, you can look up at Veritas BackupExec. if you are looking for Enterprise backup solution, Veritas Netbackup, CommVault Simpana, etc.

Mac has TimeMachine for end users but it's not as robust as the more dedicated software. Windows does have the Windows backup but I have never seen anybody actually use it.

When looking to back stuff up, you always have to look at it from an OS standpoint vs. an application standpoint. It will make your solution for restoring easier.


For having the photos save to a network device and your local drive at the same time, you need to map the network location to a network drive in windows or in mac, mount the location and save it in the fstab file (unix system file).

Once the drive is mounted to a network drive / folder path, in Lightroom, click import, and on the right side of the import menu under File Handling, there is an option to "make a second copy to" and you click the drop down menu and choose a folder. If you choose the mapped network drive or mounted path (mac), it will save a copy to the network device that is mapped to it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ dont you find using a NAS for all your photos makes photo editing a bit slow sometimes \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ or do you mean the RAID5 is split over both your NAS and you local disk? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ My local disk is a single 2TB drive with the Lightroom DB running from a solid state drive. The copy / backup of all the photos sits on the NAS that is Raid 5 \$\endgroup\$
    – thebtm
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah ok so how do you get Lightroom to automatically backup your photo to your nas as you import photo into Lightroom local disk, I would like to do that \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have updated the answer with the import process. \$\endgroup\$
    – thebtm
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 16:25

I use RAID 1 for my working drives, and a hot-swap bay for making backups that afterward go out of my computer.

I use 6 drives that I alternate between, with the hot-swap bay. For example, each week you'll advance to the next drive. I use Robocopy to move the new data to the drive.

I keep one drive at a bank, and I should do two - in a safety deposit box.

When I did programming, I used Crashplan as a way of making live backups in multiple locations. Your use of flickr is a good idea, but not a great one; as you said, they're the final image, not the original. I'd use it only as a supplement.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Its clear now that I do need a couple of drives for offsite backup, I'll have a look at crashplan as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ why waste so many drives when you can be running Raid 5 + 1 spare \$\endgroup\$
    – thebtm
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well I need one to store offsite backup, and then one to do the offsite backup which I can swap so I always have offsite backup \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 23:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was hoping for a solution that considered the lightroom process wrt to backups which I havent got. But this answer still gives some advice so marking as correct. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 9:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thebtm If you put all your drives in your PC and have an electrical fault, you are screwed. And unrelated, I'm running RAID 5 SSD for my OS drive. lol :p \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 17:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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