5 Replies Latest reply on Apr 21, 2017 8:27 AM by Sandygrove

    Can you see previews when opening a Backup Catalog?


      I have an iMac desktop OSX 10.8.4    Lightroom 5


      1. When I double click on a Lightroom backup.  It just opens the backup and not the
      photos.  Can I open the pictures with the


      2. So far I have been importing photos by Add, to the catalog from my
      working external hard drive.  I have been
      backing up to another external hard drive.
      My Lightroom catalog is on my computer.

      When I am done importing, I disconnect Lightroom's external hard drive and then work on the photos (keywording / caption) from previews in the catalog itself.  I have standard previews, not 1:1.

      When I close my catalog and open up a backup, it does not report any photo
      sizes.  It says: “file not found.”  Do I have to open both the lrdata with the lrcat
      backup files to see the sizes in the backup catalog?
      Or should I open a backup while my Lightroom photo's external drive is
      still connected to see the sizes?


      3. If my Lightroom
      catalog becomes corrupted and can’t be recovered and I need to replace the
      catalog file with a backup file, will I have all the photo’s sizes when I do? …
      I will if my Lightroom photos external drive is connected – is this right?



      4. Also, I have been cautioned to CLOSE LR BEFORE DISCONNECTING AN EX HD! Is
      this a real danger?  Does this mean the
      external drive your importing photos from by "ADD?"  [Which is how I'm doing it.]


      What are the steps I should use?  


      What about attaching external hard
      drives?  Does Lightroom need to be closed
      when you are attaching the drive you are importing photos from and/or the
      Lightroom backup external hard drive?  (Sometimes
      I have had the Import drive and Backup drive attached at the same time. )  Is this okay?

      Thank You Very Much,


      Thank You,



        • 1. Re: Can you see previews when opening a Backup Catalog?
          SeanMcCormack Adobe Community Professional

          The Previews and Smart Previews folders/file need to have a prefix that matches the catalog name..



          If your catalog is called Lightroom.lrcat, then the previews would be Lightroom Previews.lrdata and smart previews would be Lightroom Smart Previews.lrdata


          So to use a back catalog, you'd need to move it to the folder with the previews and rename it to match the previews.


          So 1. It needs to have those previews folders present and named correctly.


          2. Why are you opening a backup at all?


          3. See the introduction.


          4. If the catalog is on the main drive and you disconnect an external drive, the images will show as missing. If the catalog in on the external drive and you remove it when Lightroom is open, you could corrupt the catalog if Lightroom was writing back to it at the time. It will give an error and exit at this point.

          • 2. Re: Can you see previews when opening a Backup Catalog?
            JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            It's difficult to know how to answer your question because I'm not really following your workflow. In order for Lightroom to enable you to work on your images it must have access to the master images. In other words, you cannot import images to an external hard drive and then disconnect that external drive and expect to be able to just work on the previews that won't work. That's why you're getting the "file not found" message. The whole purpose of a backup catalog file is to replace your working catalog in case it becomes damaged or corrupted. Lightroom doesn't keep track of backup catalogs. But when you restore a backup catalog it will have all the photos and their sizes that had been imported at the time that backup was created.


            I think it's probably best to attach external drives before you open Lightroom. And it's okay to have both the backup drive and a working external hard drive attached at the same time. I have my backup and my working external drives attached almost all the time.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Can you see previews when opening a Backup Catalog?
              Sandygrove Level 1

              Sorry my question does not have all the information.   I have my Lightroom catalog on my computer’s
              hard drive.  I have done nothing with the hard drive, like partition it.  It’s a 2013 iMac desktop.  Running OSX10.8.4.  I have Lightroom 5 ver 5.0.  I have a portable Seagate external hard drive
              that I copied all my photos to and I am using that to import into Lightroom from (By
              ADD)(I call it "Lightroom Working Drive").
              I have other external hard drives for archive purposes.  My first two Lightroom backups went into the
              default Lightroom backups folder, just like they should.  I finally learned how to change the Lightroom
              default folder location.  As far as
              saving my backups, I don’t have a plan yet until I understand what is going


              As far as why I am opening Lightroom backup catalogs, I am
              exploring and checking if all is there.
              I’m not (always or ever) going to be opening backup folders in the
              future.  I just want an option to do so,
              now and then, to check and
              see if the Lightroom catalog backup machinery is working and doing what it is
              supposed to do.


              My overall Lightroom catalog backup strategy (I would like
              to put in place) is to backup to an external hard drive or a folder on my computer’s
              drive and then copy that backup folder to other external hard drives.   My computer can fail.  An External Hard Drive can fail.  But then I would always have a recent spare
              Lightroom backup somewhere in another external hard drive!  And all my photos are also archived on two
              separate external hard drives.  So
              they are safe for now.  I hope to get
              them on DVD sometime.


              I went back and tested with what you said.  When I have my Lightroom Working Drive
              connected and I open a Lightroom backup I then do see the photos and the photo


              And I understand that I use a
              backup file to replace a corrupted catalog file, not to always open.


              Is it normal when
              you do a Lightroom backup to have just the Catalog lrcat file inside the Date
              Stamped Backup folder? Not the Previews lrdata file?


              And my way of working in the catalog:   I’m
              importing my photos (by Add from my Lightroom Working Drive) now without
              a Develop preset.  But I am using a small
              Metadata preset at Import.  Then I do
              nothing else after import to the pictures in the catalog,  except adding Keywords and Place Names.  Occasionally change a Caption mistake. 

              As my understanding you can change these things in Lightroom without referencing the photos (having my
              “Lightroom Working Drive” connected).  I would
              have to have the drive connected to Export, Make 1:1 Previews, or edit photos
              in Develop.  [I do not have Smart
              Previews.]  So I can safely eject and disconnect the Lightroom Working Drive after import and work on the photos metadata fields like I said above...right?


              So I don’t know your ideas on what I have just written.  Thank You for clearing up attaching and
              ejecting external hard drives with Lightroom and how many drives I can have
              connected at a time.  I’m still kind of
              swimming in the subject of Lightroom Catalog Backup.  I’ve studied the guidelines about it, but
              actually putting it in place and understanding what is going on is harder.  I’m not that knowledgeable on basic computer. 


              I’ve got the photos and sizes to show up when I open a
              backup catalog, like I said above.  But I don’t think I
              really need the photos or sizes to show when I open a backup, just the catalog
              info minus the photos and photo sizes.  I
              can check a backup from that.  So best
              not to have the Lightroom Working Drive connected when I wanted to open and
              check a Lightroom backup catalog.  That
              way I just get the catalog information. 


              I know that Lightroom backups are used to replace from if you have a
              corrupt catalog.  You don’t ever have to
              open a backup catalog, unless occasionally to check.


              [If I had a corrupted Lightroom catalog I would need to
              replace with a Lightroom backup file.  I
              would replace by (copy the Lightroom backup lrcat file & open Finder and paste
              the backup file within the Lightroom root folder, replacing the root lrcat file. {the
              lrdata Previews file would already be in the root Lightroom folder}).  Do this  with the Lightroom program closed.  Then close Finder.  Then attach the “Lightroom Working Drive”
              (with all my Lightroom photos).  And then
              open the Lightroom program.  That should
              fix a catalog corruption situation.]  You
              should then see both the Catalog and Photos.     Right?    I think this ties in with what you were explaining to me.




              I need to know (as question above) what typically is in the
              Date Stamped backup folder after a backup, just the Catalog lrcat file?


              Thank You on any opinions or help on what I’ve said…


              Thank You,



              • 4. Re: Can you see previews when opening a Backup Catalog?
                SeanMcCormack Adobe Community Professional

                Hi Sandy,


                There's no need to open a backup generally. Only the Catalog file is backed up. Previews can be be generated again from the original files at any time. If your catalog does get corrupted, there are a number of steps you can take to try and recover it (including using SQLITE to try and fix it). If none of these work, take the zipped catalog file out of the most recent dated folder, put it into the Lightroom catalog folder with the Previews.lrdata file and rename the catalog file as mentioned to match the Previews. Double click on the newly renamed file to open it in Lightroom.


                The main problem with running a backup file is that, by default, the last catalog closed is the one that Lightroom opens, so you may end up working on the backup by accident. Often that can mean your edits since the last backup are missing and that you're not adding edits to the main catalog, and it's messy to fix. Save yourself that headache and don't open backups unless you specifically need to use one. If you use the Optimize and Check Integrity functions during backup, Lightroom is already making checks for you during backup.

                • 5. Re: Can you see previews when opening a Backup Catalog?
                  Sandygrove Level 1

                  Never heard of SQLITE.  Is that a plug-in?  I don't know if my Lightroom backup catalog files are zipped with LR 5.  I have Lightroom set to always open my one and only catalog.  It will not open a backup by mistake.  It's not set to "open most recent."  And after closing a backup catalog, when I open Lightroom again, I check the path.  Thank You for the knowledge and tips.  I know a little bit, but there is much I just don't know and I don't want to make major mistakes.  Thank You again so much for the help.   I keep a extra backup list document too.  Not really needed because when you replace a corrupted catalog file with a backup you can see in the Folders panel just what the backup covers.  But if I  do any global keyword changes, or any other metadata changes to the catalog which can cover some or all of many past imports, by this list I can know which backup that change is in.  If I had to replace with a backup in back of that change, I would then know that I had to repeat those metadata changes on this replacement catalog. 


                  Thank You So Much For This Help.  I can now feel safer that all my work in the catalog is safe by storing backups.  Because as it grows, losing it becomes more and more of a major problem.


                  Thank You So Much For the Help,


                  Thank You,