3 Replies Latest reply on Sep 8, 2016 7:34 AM by Abambo

    Backing up Lr photos on external hard drives

    archontic Level 1



      This post is longwinded. Apologies.


      I am sorry if this query has been answered before, I am about to make a hard drive purchase to store some Lr photos and wanted to be clear what I am doing is a correct and/or whether I have to do some tidying up work before attempt to move my photos. I am a novice user, so please pardon my ignorance.


      I am running Lr CC (2015) on a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, 2013) running El Capitan 10.11.6.


      I am starting to accumulate a large number of photographs on my laptop that I would like to store on 2 4TB external hard drives - the second being a back up for the first. I want to move my photos to the hard drives and still be able to see them in Lr CC (2015) on my and work on them on in Lr CC  my laptop once they have been moved.


      My photos are currently in the Pictures folder on my Mac: Pictures> 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016


      I am about to copy the photos to the first hard drive. And I want to make a copy of that hard drive on a second hard drive as the photos are very important to me.


      If I copy the folders to my first LaCie 4TB hard drive:


      1) What formatting do I need to make on my HDs to work with Lr and Mac?


      2) Do I simply copy the folders to a folder I create on the hard drive that I call Pictures, like the folder name on my laptop? And then make a copy of that hard drive in its entirity on my second drive using backup software that comes with my drives?


      3) One of my problems at the moment: I do not understand what  files such as iPhone photos-2.ircat .... mean and I seem to have many of them scattered in many locations? Do I move some or all of them, leave them where they are or duplicate them all to the hard drive?


      For example, they can be found in the location:


      My name>Pictures>iPhone photos>Backups>2014-07-21 0150>iPhone photos.lrcat .... and so on


      Other files exist called iPhone etc are zipped files


      My name>Pictures>iPhone photos>Backups>2014-07-21 0150>iPhone photos-2.Ircat.zip  dated 10 July 2015 at 21:19 for example


      and there are other files:


      My name>Pictures>iPhone photos>Backups>2014-07-21 0150>


      called Lightroom Catalog.Ircat dated 27 August 2015 at 17:30


      There is also a folder called Lightroom

      My name>Pictures>Lightoom


      Inside of that there are 4 items:

      a folder called Backups

      and four files called

      Lightroom 5 Catalog Ircat

      Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata

      Lightroom Catalog.lrcat

      Lightroom Catalog Ircat.zip


      Why do two files refer to Lr 5 and not Lr CC?


      Do I move all of them to my hard drive at leave them in the locations where I found them and delete them on my laptop and then make a second back up of that hard drive?


      I have never understood why there are all these files such as Catalog Ircat exist or what they mean? Have I somehow made a mess that I should spend time on before the transfer?


      I would like to know how to proceed before I transfer the correct files so that I can view all my files and use all my on the external hard drive that I am moving to win space on my laptop and have the security that they are backed up by a second hard drive. I also have a Time Machine  wireless HD back up for my laptop that I am intending to continue using  after transferring my photos to the external drive plus backup drive.


      Sorry to be longwinded - it's just that I really don't know what to do next and wanted to supply as much information as possible.


      Many thanks


      David Perkins

      (Brighton, UK)

        • 1. Re: Backing up Lr photos on external hard drives
          dj_paige Level 9

          Somewhat out of order


          The .LRCAT (not .IRCAT) files are your Lightroom catalogs. This is where Lightroom stores all of your work (but the photos are not stored in the catalogs). You can't run Lightroom without them. You should not delete them. You absolutely MUST have backups of these as well.


          Clearly you have created somehow a catalog named iPhoto photos.LRCAT. You may or may not need this. The ZIP version is a backup of the catalog file. The file named Lightroom 5 Catalog.LRCAT does not refer to Lightroom 5, it probably is a Lightroom CC catalog. The name is simply a name, it is simply text, it has no other meaning, all files have to have a name.


          If I could give you a mandatory homework assignment, it would be to read this: How Lightroom catalogs work . It explains the concept of a catalog. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!


          When you copy the files to the new hard drive using your operating system, you then need to open Lightroom and reconnect the Pictures folder so that it now points to the new External HD. To do this, right-click on Pictures in Lightroom, select Update Folder Location, and when the next dialog box appears, select the Pictures folder on the new EHD. More details and screen captures in these directions, read the part entitled "Part 2 — Updating Folder Location". Do not import the photos from the new External HD.


          Side comment regarding backups: in my opinion, backups must be automated and at a regular interval. You can back up your catalog file(s) from within Lightroom (see https://photofocus.com/2016/04/08/backing-up-your-lightroom-catalog/ ); backing up the photos can be done via your operating system or third party software. Manual backups after creating the initial backup are not sufficient. People forget or they're too busy and the backup doesn't happen and then you are up a creek if you need a backup and you don't have one.

          3 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Backing up Lr photos on external hard drives
            Abambo Adobe Community Professional

            If I remember well, the LR 5 catalog comes from an upgrade to LR 6/CC, when LR migrates the old catalog.

            • 3. Re: Backing up Lr photos on external hard drives
              Abambo Adobe Community Professional

              Look really here for infos ion the catalog file. They are hell important: How Lightroom catalogs work.

              Equal important is this: Photoshop Lightroom catalog FAQ


              If you still have questions concerning the catalog, come back to the forum.


              If you want using a disk on a Mac OSX and on a Windows PC, you need to format the disk as exFAT ()or install additional software on the Windows system /(to read OSX formated drives) or on the OSX to write NTFS formated drives. OSX can read NTFS drives.


              I have the impression, that your LR organisation is somehow a little messy. So I suggest, you backup first and the reorganize to have ONE location for your photos and ONE LR catalog.

              2 people found this helpful