Is It Safe To Delete Old Lightroom Catalogs?

Lightroom is a fantastic batch editor and photo management tool, loved by countless photographers across the globe. However, with batch editing comes a lot of photos, and that means your Lightroom catalog can fill up pretty fast. So, you might be wondering if it’s safe to delete old catalogs, or is there a reason to hold onto them?

As a general rule, it is a good idea to delete old Lightroom catalogs on a regular basis. Depending on how long you have used Lightroom, some of the files you have may be quite old or outdated. These can take up space on your computer, creating a less efficient storage system.

Removing files can be somewhat nerve-racking, especially when you are not sure what will happen with them. Keep reading to learn more about safely deleting old Lightroom catalogs and why this is a good idea.

Do You Need To Keep Old Lightroom Catalogs?

If you are new to using Lightroom, you may not have a full understanding of what catalogs are and why you need them in the first place.

A catalog is a database file specific to Lightroom. When you import and edit your Lightroom photos, this is where they are stored, along with image previews and other crucial data.

All of the files in your Lightroom catalog, though, might not be necessary. Some of your files might be quite old, depending on how long you’ve been using Lightroom. Some of them most likely have something to do with long-gone projects or clients of the past.

Over time, these outdated catalogs can build up. This uses up a lot of storage on your computer that could be used for other things. You will need to use your judgment as you browse the catalog to determine which files are important to keep and which are just taking up space.

Why Does Lightroom Take Up So Much Space?

In order for Lightroom to function, you must import photos into your Adobe cloud storage first. These photos serve as the foundation for all edits. Lightroom Classic, on the other hand, links to files saved on your computer’s local storage.

Additionally, since Lightroom utilizes a database system, you are not directly working with the original files. Instead, it keeps data on them in a collection of files called the Catalog. This includes details like metadata and any adjustments you might have made.

Although this is excellent for non-destructive editing, a lot of space may be required. Lightroom copies the images you import into it to a different folder on your computer’s local drive before uploading them to the cloud. These images stay here, taking up your hard drive storage without you even realizing it.

Where Are Lightroom Catalogs Stored?

Knowing where their working catalog is located on their computer is one of the most crucial things a Lightroom user should know.

To find your catalog location, start by launching Lightroom and clicking on the Edit tab. Now select Catalog Settings and navigate to the General tab. Here, you should see an information box that lists details about your catalog. This includes:

  • Catalog location
  • File name
  • Date created
  • Last backup date
  • Size

Now, if you need to move your catalog or delete it altogether, you can easily find it.

Should You Delete Old Lightroom Catalog Backups?

Your Lightroom catalog will contain a large number of backup files. Lightroom generates backup copies of the edited images as you work on them. When you unintentionally lose a file, this is incredibly helpful. In that case, simply use the backup catalog to restore it.

Although useful, this takes up a lot of storage space. After all, the number of files you are working with is essentially double. Once these backups are no longer required, it is a good idea to delete them over time. This can help free up storage and keep Lightroom running smoothly.

How To Clean Up Your Lightroom Catalog

Your Lightroom catalogs may occasionally need to be deleted. It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that deleting a catalog also means that all of your Lightroom work that hasn’t been exported as a new file is lost.

For a quick and easy way to delete your entire catalog, you will need to access your file search system (Explorer for Windows or Finder for Mac OS). Simply locate the folder that contains your catalog, and drag it to the Recyle Bin on your desktop.

If you aren’t sure where the catalog is, remember that you can find the location in the Catalog Settings. Use that location to open the Lightroom catalog folder.

Deleting Catalog Backups

The local Lightroom catalog you use will contain several folders. The backups will be kept in one of these. Finding the backup folder is the first step to deleting a backup.

Start by opening the folder and deleting the desired items. The files you want to delete can be manually selected. However, it is best to refrain from erasing every backup you have. Remove the old backups instead, and look for any that may have become corrupted. Once deleted, your computer will have far more storage space.

Clean Out Cloud Storage

You receive a certain amount of cloud storage when you sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud plan. When you import image files into your catalog, Lightroom uses this storage to keep the complete versions of those files. Your amount of cloud storage could range from 20GB to 1TB, depending on your Creative Cloud plan.

If you are shooting in RAW, you’ll probably fill up your storage faster than you think. Despite the fact that Lightroom does not allow you to store these files exclusively locally, you can move them into Lightroom Classic in order to free up cloud storage space.

Final Thoughts

Lightroom catalogs are useful to anyone working with larger batches of photos. However, this can also eat up a lot of storage space, whether that be locally or on the cloud. Hopefully, this article gave you a clearer idea of how catalogs work so that you can safely delete them when need be.