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Thread started 12 Aug 2013 (Monday) 21:02
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Backing up entire Lr catalog

 
drvnbysound
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Aug 12, 2013 21:02 |  #1

I'm planning to re-format my main PC soon; I built it about a year and a half ago and I want to get a fresh start. That said, I've got a pretty decent catalog in Lr and I want to ensure that I maintain all of those images, edits, etc.

Let me first explain some madness (possibly)... I use a CF card reader and manually copy/paste images from the card, to a directory on my HDD. Once that is complete, I go into Lr and manually add that folder to Lr view viewing/editing. I wanted to explain this, because I have no idea if it changes the export process at all or not.

That being said, I'd prefer to be able to export everything in a single effort if possible, but I assume that I would export each folder if I had to... I'll certainly be testing this (probably to my laptop) before completely wiping the PC.


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drvnbysound
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Aug 12, 2013 21:47 |  #2

More thinking...

Say I manually moved all of the picture files from their existing location, to a new HDD. Is there a way to backup the Lr catalog, but to sync them with the new location(s)?


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tzalman
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Aug 13, 2013 00:52 |  #3

Let me first explain some madness (possibly)... I use a CF card reader and manually copy/paste images from the card, to a directory on my HDD. Once that is complete, I go into Lr and manually add that folder to Lr view viewing/editing.

Nothing mad about that. It's what I usually do.

I have no idea if it changes the export process at all or not.

Nope, doesn't change anything, export or import, except that you set Add in import instead of Copy.

That being said, I'd prefer to be able to export everything in a single effort if possible, but I assume that I would export each folder if I had to..

Now you have confused me. Because the title says "backing up the catalog" and exporting images is very different. "Exporting" means rendering them all as RGB files - tiff, psd or jpg. Is that what you want to do? Backup means making a copy of the single catalog .lrcat file and putting it somewhere safe. You should already be doing this frequently and that "somewhere safe" should not be the same drive that the working .lrcat is on. You should also have backup copies of your Raw files
on another drive, on dvds, in cloud storage - whatever. So there should be no need to export images, if you have copies of the Raws. You can reformat and then reinstall LR and copy the .lrcat back to whatever location you want on the HD. If when you copy the images back you maintain the same folder structures and paths as now, that will make it much simpler, but if something gets changed and the catalog can't find the images, just right-click on the question marks and navigate to the image folders.


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Aug 13, 2013 03:08 as a reply to  @ tzalman's post |  #4

WARNING: Just to be sure you understand - Backing up your catalog does not back up your images. Your catalog only includes details of where the images are and what adjustments you have made. You must back up the catalog and the images separately.


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drvnbysound
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Aug 13, 2013 07:16 |  #5

tzalman wrote in post #16203403 (external link)
Now you have confused me. Because the title says "backing up the catalog" and exporting images is very different. "Exporting" means rendering them all as RGB files - tiff, psd or jpg. Is that what you want to do? Backup means making a copy of the single catalog .lrcat file and putting it somewhere safe. You should already be doing this frequently and that "somewhere safe" should not be the same drive that the working .lrcat is on. You should also have backup copies of your Raw files
on another drive, on dvds, in cloud storage - whatever. So there should be no need to export images, if you have copies of the Raws. You can reformat and then reinstall LR and copy the .lrcat back to whatever location you want on the HD. If when you copy the images back you maintain the same folder structures and paths as now, that will make it much simpler, but if something gets changed and the catalog can't find the images, just right-click on the question marks and navigate to the image folders.

My apologies. I believe I went back and added that last part after the fact... and tried to add it quickly before anyone responded.

I completely understand the standard Export function of Lr, and understand that is not what I am interested in.

What I am interested in is the entire Lr catalog. It sounds like the .lrcat file is what I am interested in... I guess I just want to be sure that contains everything I need (with the exception of the files themselves) before I wipe the computer. As mentioned, I do plan to do some file-restructuring, so they will be moved to a different directory. It will take some time for me to navigate/map the new location, but I'm aware of it and will deal with that accordingly. My main concern is losing edits, virtual copies, flagging, ratings, etc.


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drvnbysound
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Aug 13, 2013 07:24 |  #6

Dan Marchant wrote in post #16203539 (external link)
WARNING: Just to be sure you understand - Backing up your catalog does not back up your images. Your catalog only includes details of where the images are and what adjustments you have made. You must back up the catalog and the images separately.

So, as I mentioned above, I've successfully exported a folder as catalog before (and included the files), but have never tried to move everything.

I'll be the first to admit that I've honestly never backed up the Catalog before; I do however have my pictures backed up. This is an area that I'm about to get better with... I just want to ensure that I have the proper understanding before wiping my computer and possibly losing things.

I just went to Edit > Catalog Settings, and found the location of the catalog. Am I correct to assume that I just need that .lrcat file, and my image files?


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IslandCrow
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Aug 13, 2013 11:43 |  #7

Yes, the .lrcat file is your entire catalog. That said, there are a few other things you may want to consider doing. First, and this will take awhile if you haven't done it before, you may want to have Lightroom also write the EXIF to the image file (it actually writes it to a .xmp file for files in the camera's raw format). This way, even if you do lose your catalog file, all of your edits will still be there. I think you may lose some things like flags, color tags and things like that, but it will maintain all your adjustments, keywords, captions, etc. Second, if you've created any editing presets, I don't believe these are included in the Catalog file (I use LR4, so it may be different in LR5). I'm not in front of my own computer at the moment, and I can't remember the best way to back up these presets, but I'm sure someone else here can probably help out.




  
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Aug 13, 2013 11:57 |  #8

I can say from personal experience that your publish settings will not be saved if you Export the whole thing as a catalog. If you have a bunch of collections that you've published to Flickr or Facebook, these won't be saved.

My recommendation would be to use your file browser (Explorer) to copy everything to a temporary external storage for the duration of the format. All the .lrcat, .previews, etc. Do the same with all your images. Then after the fresh OS is in place, install Lightroom, manually move your .lrcat (etc) files to the appropriate location, and manually move your image files to the appropriate location.

The first time you launch Lightroom, you can tell it to open that Catalog. You may need to additionally tell it the new location of the image files directory - they'll show up with a question mark, if you click on that you can browse to the directory where the images reside.

For restructuring the contents of your image directory, do that separately from within Lightroom - not as part of your fresh OS installation. You can move you image files with Explorer, but then you'll have to tell Lightroom where to find them. If you move the folders in the Lightroom library module, Lightroom will automatically know where you moved them.

Good call about the Presets, above. Don't forget to move those.


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drvnbysound
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Aug 13, 2013 12:47 |  #9

Thanks for the information guys. I'm pretty sure I've got a handle on this now. For now, I don't have any presets to worry about; I've been doing things pretty manually, and just utilizing sync features. This is something that I'm hoping to change soon as well.

@nathancarter: I am planning to do as you said and move all of my files to a temporary external HDD while I re-format. Having said that, I do want to do a bit of cleaning up with the organization of picture folders. Am I correct to say that you recommend doing this from within Lr (so Lr keeps track of where they are moved) as opposed to doing this in Explorer first, then trying to load the .lrcat ?


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Aug 13, 2013 12:54 |  #10

I work with multiple catalogs and they live in their own folders. I put the raw files in a sub-folder where the catalog lives and that seems to get around the problem of drive letters on a PC. Even when the drive letter changes LR has no problem finding the files.

The recommended way to move images is within Lightroom so they don't become "lost" by breaking the path in the database. But I find the process pretty slow, so I have moved files manually in Explorer and then re-linked them in Lightroom.

I use SyncBack to perform two backups (one at home, one at work) of my data and have used it successfully to move data as well. The problem with using Explorer is when you have a failure and you have no idea which files are missing. SyncBack (and other backup tools) have a log so you can see what failed.


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nathancarter
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Aug 13, 2013 12:57 |  #11

drvnbysound wrote in post #16204687 (external link)
@nathancarter: I am planning to do as you said and move all of my files to a temporary external HDD while I re-format. Having said that, I do want to do a bit of cleaning up with the organization of picture folders. Am I correct to say that you recommend doing this from within Lr (so Lr keeps track of where they are moved) as opposed to doing this in Explorer first, then trying to load the .lrcat ?

Yes.

Before or after your O/S install, it doesn't matter. Just do it from within Lightroom. If you do it from Explorer, you're going to have to help Lightroom find all of the files you moved.


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drvnbysound
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Aug 13, 2013 14:35 |  #12

Thanks guys. I'm hoping to get everything else on the computer cleared up this week and do the re-format this weekend. This was the first time I really had multiple internal HDDs installed, and I realized how much of a organizational mess the computer can become when I don't follow some structure... I think I found 3 different folders, each on different HDDs (or at least different partitions) which were labeled as "Downloads"... some had files that I had copied over (where I was trying to backup), others were just additional places that I was placing files at that time.

Overall, I think one of my biggest issues is that I do a LOT of different things with this machine; photo and video editing, testing software on VMs, vinyl graphic work, along with all of the other standard PC uses and probably some stuff that I'm forgetting too. Trying to have a single machine that does so many different tasks... rather than dedicated machines for various things. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the organization of the data is a bit of a mess ;-)a


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Merlin_AZ
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Aug 13, 2013 14:58 |  #13

Also, image your drive before you do anything.
That way if there's an issue, you have a fallback.
I'd recommend Macrium Reflect Free.




  
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Aug 13, 2013 16:41 as a reply to  @ Merlin_AZ's post |  #14

Usually, by the time I need to rebuild an "important" computer, it is old enough (due to HD's MTBF) I just buy a new HD to put in. I pull out the old, build the system on the new drive, copy what I need from the old drive and put it in storage (labeled) to have "just in case".


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Aug 14, 2013 00:50 |  #15

drvnbysound wrote in post #16203843 (external link)
I'll be the first to admit that I've honestly never backed up the Catalog before; I do however have my pictures backed up. This is an area that I'm about to get better with... I just want to ensure that I have the proper understanding before wiping my computer and possibly losing things.

This is a bad thing !! Your catalog file could be damaged and you would lose everything. Go to Edit > Catalog Settings > General > Backup and select an option to automatically backup your catalog. Note: By default LR will save the backup on the same drive, which isn't going to be much use if your drive fails. You should really set it to backup to an external drive (I use the one I backup my images too). I plug it in once a week and run the backup so I have the images and the catalog together.

I just went to Edit > Catalog Settings, and found the location of the catalog. Am I correct to assume that I just need that .lrcat file, and my image files?

No, you also need to backup any publishing, import, develop and export presets, as these aren't stored in the catalog.

Go to Edit > Preferences > General > Presets and click "Show Presets Folder" to see where they are stored. Personally I have ticked "store presets with catalog" so they are stored in the same folder as the catalog. I can just copy that folder to an external drive once a week and it saves it all.


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