How Many Lightroom Catalog Backups Do You Need?

Lightroom backups could be lifesavers if you are a working photographer. They allow you to create backstops in your work; if the power is lost or a catastrophic event occurs, you can pick it back up. How many Lightroom catalog backups do you need?

A good rule of thumb is to have three Lightroom catalog backups. To keep them current, rotate them with each save or create new names that show the progress of the work. As you close out jobs, you can delete them or move them to secure storage.

Backing up your photos is encouraged. Digital-based professionals need to have a few backups in place at all times to protect their work. Being careless can carry the label of unprofessional, and people do not want to hire an inexperienced photographer. So how many Lightroom catalog backups do you need?

What Backups Can Do for Your Projects On Lightroom

Working with Lightroom can be a painstaking process encompassing hours of work time and effort. One of the pitfalls of technology is that your work could be lost in the event of a loss of power or a software malfunction. Creating catalog backups prevents these events from stealing all your work and creates a safe spot to fall back into.

A few reasons you need catalog backups in Lightroom are:

  • Crashes – One of the main reasons you need to create a backup in case your computer crashes. A crash means your computer has lost functionality and returned to its initial loading program. When this happens, you can lose precious work hours if you don’t have a backup.
  • Viruses – Another scourge of the electronic professions is viruses. Often used to destroy the processors in computers, they are sometimes used as a way to steal sensitive data and possibly hold your files for ransom. Having a backup will allow you to access workspaces that haven’t encountered the virus.
  • Physical Impacts – The most significant thing to ruin your data could be a broken computer. When you have an accident, and your laptop or desktop is damaged, there could be no way to retrieve it. Creating a backup not only allows you to get back to your work but will allow you to use another machine in a different location to access it.
  • Errors – Errors are everyday things while you are working. By creating a series of backups, you can protect your work from errors that could ruin the pictures or be something the client doesn’t want.

Creating backups is the most intelligent and safest way to protect your work from accidents and malfunctions. Remember that you must have a system to save the data regularly, or you could be forced to lose several hours of work. By creating backups, you save yourself time, and by creating multiple backups, you increase your chances of protecting data.

Managing Your Lightroom Catalog Backups

Lightroom saves every time you adjust the photo. This protects you but creates an excess of saves that could begin to take up the lion’s share of your total save space. By having regular catalog backups, you can mitigate this problem before it turns into a full-blown disaster.

Creating Filenames

One of the best ways to control the avalanche of files is to create backups with filenames you recognize or have a system to them. Doing this creates a workspace that allows you to move quickly from one part of the job to the next without errors.

A few rules to follow when creating file names are as follows:

  • Consistency – One of the most important things you can do for files is to name them something and stick with that format. There are tons of ways to save your files, but the most important thing is that you recognize them. Keeping the same system creates a consistent base for locating files when you need them.
  • Year-Month-Day – A popular way to label your files is to use the YMD or YYYYMMDD process when naming files. This keeps you on a daily flow that allows you to make additions as needed to remember important jobs or projects.

There are tons of hacks for naming filenames that could benefit you. The basics are a good place to start, but once you have chosen a naming scheme, you should stick to it. Changing means you will have to learn a new system, and if your files merge, you could be in for a headache that Calgon or Excedrin can’t get rid of.

Removing Excess Files

When you reach the max file limit on your computer, deleting old files could be the place to start. However, moving the files to other locations could save time and trouble if you are asked to pull old files and create new projects.

Some ways to move files rather than delete them are:

  • External Storage – A fast and cheap way to save an avalanche of files is with external hard drives and storage. Moving files is an excellent way to protect your cherished work and still have room to create new projects or take on new clients.
  • Cloud Storage – Another popular way to get more space is by purchasing cloud storage. Lightroom will come with a fair amount of space but having cloud access means you can work with the data from any terminal and multiple devices.

Making room for more files is an excellent way to see the importance of having a few backups and not an excess. By traveling light and having a small and consistently named series of backups, you can save space on your computer or network while still being able to grab your files quickly and always.


Having at least three backups for your Lightroom Catalog is a good idea. Computer malfunctions and user errors could completely derail a project if you don’t have sufficient saved data to get back to work.

Using proper naming conventions and keeping an eye on the amount of data you use, you can protect yourself and your files from crashes and work stoppages. By keeping your number of backups low and your file naming to an art form, you can control the number of Lightroom Catalog backups you need.