When Lightroom does a catalog backup does it do anything more than copy the .lrcat file? Assuming the Optimize Catalog option is turned off of course.

Lightroom takes a long while to backup my catalog file, in the order of a few minutes. Now, if I copy the .lrcat manually, it takes a few seconds. What is it doing that would warrant more time to perform. Even with the Optimize Catalog option, LR takes time to optimize but then the backing up still takes much longer than copying the file.

Is there a reason to let Lightroom do the backups when I am already copying the .lrcat file as part of my regularly scheduled backup? As matter, my data backup scripts backs up the actual .lrcat file of Lightroom plus all the backups it has created, so I have backups of backups, in duplicate and different physical locations.


1 Answer 1


The Lightroom catalog backup does multiple things, generally: does an integrity check on the catalog (why back up something if it is corrupt), copies the file, and optimizes the running copy for better performance. I am fairly sure during the optimization that it does a cleanup of (some? all?) preview files. And finally it zips the catalog's backup to save space.

Should you decide to copy it, be absolutely sure that Lightroom does not have it open, as copying a changing copy of the SQLite database is not safe.

The Lightroom catalog backup is a good idea to have point in time catalogs to recover in the event of catalog corruption or user error.

The backups your backup system are somewhat redundant to the catalog backups, provided you do them regularly and also keep multiple versions. But they are not a substitute for periodically doing the optimize step, nor the integrity check. A mixture of both is the best idea.


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.