Update: While I'm not out of the woods, yet, in fixing this problem, I have some clue to what might have happened, and it looks like I'm making some progress in fixing it.
Basically, I think it came down to "fat-fingering" something. With LR2.7, I had been using about 6 Catalogs. When upgrading to verion 3.0 (and now 3.2), I have been putting everything into only 1 Catalog.
That seemed to be working fine, with backup catalogs put into Pictures\Lightroom 3\Backups. Each backup file was created each time I exited LR, and was put into this folder structure with the name of DATE_Time. I knew this was working and working as far as I know the way it should. That is, until 08/28/10 apparently......because on 09/07/10, I discovered backup files were being placed elsewhere (that folder dated 08/28/10).
I discovered tonight that I actually have 2 catalogs, not one. I don't know what I did, but I think in the process of transferring one catalog into LR3, I did it the wrong way, and it was put in as a 2nd catalog in LR3, not into the single one I wanted. Hard to explain, but this looks like it might have contributed to the messing up the actual location of where the backups go.
Further, there seems to be some problem/confusion on what I was doing because I saw one set of data called Lightroom 3.LRCAT and another set called Lightroom 3 Catalog.LRCAT. (same with the catalog files themselves as well as the preview files).
Lastly, there seemed to be some issue with some files being put into Pictures\Lightroom and other pictures being put into Pictures\Lightroom 3.
This probably doesn't make much sense; it's hard for me to explain; but I think I did "fat finger" something; I am in the process of just using the Lightroom 3 Catalog.LRCAT and related files, and eliminating the Lightroom 3.LRCAT files because that's what seems to be working right now. I need to do more investigation, but it looks more "normal" now.
I've had strange things happen with the catalog, backup, and preview files before. I am more convinced than ever that I have "fat-fingered" things in the past.
I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations on a decent article or two which explains very specifically all of the Lightroom File types, what they are for, and where and how they typically are stored? Can you rename any one of these LR files to something of your liking? From what I've seen, I think that for LR3 files, I wanted to call them "Lightroom 3" files, but maybe by default Lightroom calls them "Lightroom 3 Catalog" files? Is there a good or "best" way to delete any of these files? Someone once told me that you can delete Preview files with no problem; they will just be recreated the next time you load a Catalog.
It also appears that I cannot change the default backup location; I can change it on any indivdual exiting out of LR3, but it doesn't look like I can permanently make a new backup location. I'm not sure I really want to do this.....I was only trying to do it because of the problem I was seeing this morning with backups being placed in a different location. But, any rational for not being able to change it permanently might just be useful for one to know.
I think things like this would be very helpful to have in document form, at least for me.....perhaps for others.
More investigation Thursday, but for now, it's time for bed.
It has been a while since this was posted but I discovered a similar situation on Lightroom 3 for my computer as well. All my most recent back ups seem to be going into a July 2011 folder (which I almost deleted when I was clearing out outdated LR backp files). I suspect it may be the date that I used LR3 for the first time, or perhaps created my current catalog. I, too, would like to find a way to move the backups to a different folder so I don't accidentally delete them in the future.
I honestly can't remember exactly what the problem was I had. I do remember the thing with the Icons, and there was something about getting things into the proper catalog and/or backup, but I don't remember the details.
One thing I just noticed, though, is that I very recently upgraded to Version 4. I actually just downloaded the trial and then paid for it a few weeks later when the trial was up. In the process of doing this, the pictures I have imported went into a Catalog I really did not want them to go into. It looks like it took an old version 3 Catalog and did not create a new version 4 Catalog and/or backup. I'll have to fool around to see what I need to do to get them into the proper catalog. What I have not seen, as I have seen in the past I think, is a newly created catalog or backup called "Lightroom 4 Backups" or "Lightroom 4 Catalog", or something like that. Such catalog or backups were apparently created automatically when I went from v1 to v2 and v2 to v3.
In response to Dorin's comment, I'm not sure about the ability to change the folder. When I X out of LR, it does ask me if I want to backup the Catalog. However, I do not see in this dialogue box where I can change the folder.
Anyway, since I originally entered this awhile ago, I either have figured out what was going on or learned to live with it. I'll have to investigate it further, though, since I do see something I didn't expect with LR4. I also will have to check this on my desktop......I've not been home in awhile and only am using my laptop, which I do not keep as "clean" as my desktop with respect to properly putting things where they belong, naming things properly, etc.