Skip to main content
Code42 Support

Backing Up And Restoring Adobe Lightroom

Applies to:
  • CrashPlan PRO
  • CrashPlan PROe

Overview

If you use Lightroom to organize and edit your photos, backing up Lightroom's catalog, settings, and metadata files is almost as important as backing up your actual photos.

This article provides background information and best practices for which Lightroom files you should and should not back up with CrashPlan, as well as tips for restoring your Lightroom files.

Considerations

Non-Code42 Products
Information about products from other manufacturers is intended as a resource to help you get the most out of Code42 products. However, our Customer Champions cannot provide direct assistance for these products. For assistance with products not developed by Code42, contact the product's manufacturer.

What To Include In Your Backup File Selection

Photos

Obviously, backing up your photos is critically important. The Lightroom catalog does not actually contain your photos—they must be backed up separately. CrashPlan backs up your user directory by default. If you store photos outside your user directory, or you previously modified the default file selection, you may need to update your backup file selection to ensure it includes all of your photos.

Back Up Both Your Original Files And Exported Photos
Backing up your original photos is most important, but don’t forget to include photos exported from Lightroom in your backup file selection as well.

Lightroom Catalog

Backing up your Lightroom catalog file is extremely important—it contains all the details about edits, keywords, and ratings you have applied to photos.

Editing photos in Lightroom is nondestructive, which means Lightroom never changes the original photos. Instead, Lightroom records the details of your edits in a catalog file. The Lightroom catalog file also includes the location of each photo on your computer, as well as metadata for the photo, such as keywords and ratings.

Backing Up Your Lightroom Catalog

To find your catalog, see Where is my catalog located? on Adobe's Catalog FAQ page. After locating your catalog file, add the file to your backup selection. If you have more than one Lightroom catalog, make sure to add all of them to your backup file selection.

Backing Up Open Catalog Files
CrashPlan may not be able to completely back up your catalog file while it is open in Lightroom. Make sure to exit Lightroom periodically and allow enough time for CrashPlan to back up the catalog. Alternately, you can use Lightroom to create catalog backups and add the catalog backup to your CrashPlan backup file selection.

Lightroom Settings

Lightroom settings include your develop presets, custom watermarks, and other preferences, so backing them up is also very important. The default location of these files for Lightroom 5 is listed below. We recommend adding these folders to your backup file selection. 

Windows 7 / 8
  • Lightroom preferences / settings / presets: C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom
  • Camera Raw settings / presets: C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\Setting
OS X
  • Lightroom settings / presets: /Users/<user>/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/
  • Camera Raw settings / presets: /Users/<user>/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRawFolder/Settings
  • Preferences: /Users/<user>/Library/Preferences/com.adobe.Lightroom5.plist

See Adobe Lightroom help for specific file locations for other versions of Lightroom and Windows.

Metadata

Metadata in Lightroom includes a record of edits made to images, IPTC/EXIF data, and other data related to the images. This data is stored in Lightroom's catalog files, but it can also be written to separate files to improve portability and provide redundancy in case a catalog becomes corrupted or is otherwise unavailable.

It's still important to keep your Lightroom catalogs selected for backup, but writing out XMP data regularly makes restoring and importing files easier in the future, while also preserving your edits and embedded data.

Since metadata is either written into the original file (in the case of JPEG, TIFF, PSD, or DNG formats) or to XMP sidecars at the location images are stored (in the case of all other RAW files), CrashPlan automatically backs up this metadata as long as the original image files are already included in your backup file selection.

Writing metadata to your files or XMP sidecar files as part of your regular workflow also makes it easier to import images into Photoshop and other Lightroom catalogs. You can also configure Lightroom to do this automatically, although performance may be impacted.

To learn more about managing metadata, see Adobe Lightroom help articles About Metadata and XMP and Advanced Metadata Actions.

What To Exclude From Your Backup File Selection

Previews

Lightroom creates preview files for your photos, and these previews can grow to be several hundred gigabytes (GB) in size over time. We do not recommend backing up these files for several reasons:

  • Previews are nonessential cache files. Previews are a great feature of Lightroom and can help speed up Lightroom's workflow, but they are built or rebuilt automatically as needed. If Lightroom detects a preview is missing or out-of-date, it simply creates a new preview. If your Lightroom data needs to be restored, preview files will not serve any practical use.
  • Previews slow down your backup. Lightroom stores thousands—or possibly tens or even hundreds of thousands—of previews for photos in the Lightroom catalog. Because CrashPlan focuses on backing up new and newly modified files first, the previews will be backed up before your more important files.

Therefore, we recommend removing all preview and cache files from your backup file selection. The default locations of these files for Lightroom 5 are listed below. 

Windows 7 / 8
  • Lightroom previews cache: C:\Users\username\Pictures\Lightroom\Lightroom 5 Previews.lrdata
  • Smart previews cache: C:\Users\username\Pictures\Lightroom\Lightroom 5 Smart Previews.lrdata
  • Adobe Camera Raw cache: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\Database
OS X
  • Lightroom previews cache: /Users/username/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom 5 Catalog Previews.lrdata
  • Smart previews cache: /Users/username/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom 5 Catalog Smart Previews.lrdata
  • Adobe Camera Raw cache: /Users/username/Library/Caches/Adobe Camera Raw

See Adobe Lightroom help for specific file locations for other versions of Lightroom and Windows.

Restoring

After restoring Lightroom data, particularly if the photos themselves are restored to a different location, you may need to tell Lightroom where to find your restored files. See Adobe Lightroom help for details about how to locate missing files.