First using the Export As Catalog is not the way to Back Up your images. No images are ever actually IN LR. They are just Referenced into the LR Database file, IE the Catalog file, from where they are stored on your hard drives.
To properly back them up you Copy the actual Image files to an External drive or NAS or some other physical drive connected to your system other than the one the original images are stored on.
There is a way to get whatever edits you have done to the images in the Exported catalog on the F drive back into your original catalog.
You did an "Export as Catalog", to reverse the process you use the menu command File->Import from Another Catalog.
I agree with Just Shoot Me that export as a catalog is not a proper backup procedure. However, you are lucky in that sense that Export as catalog copies all the data (catalog and images). When doing a (proper) backup, you should keep in mind that you need to copy the lrcat file AND your images. Best is to use a backup program to do so and let that one do the backups using backup rules.
More information on this may be found on the web(for example: What’s the Best Way to Back Up My Computer? ), this is not necessarily a Lightroom problem.
Now for your immediate problem:
Questions to ask:
All your current data is on F: with the exported catalog? Your C: catalog contains only older edits or no edits at all or no images at all? Neither you C: catalog nor your F: catalog contain all data?
Method 1: (For merging a incomplete F: catalog to a incomplete C: catalog)
- Connect F:
- Do File->Import from an other catalog
- Decide on overwriting or getting virtual copies for conflicting edits.
- Missing files will be copied to C:
- Missing or modified edits will be added accordingly.
Method 2+3 will create a new catalog structure and is easiest when the structure on F: is complete and no files are missing on F:.
What was on C: will stay on C: and you should do absolutely a clean-up procedure deleting the older data (catalog and pictures) after you are sure that the new catalog works. For this I normally create a directory "to-delete" and I put all the data that should be deleted in. At a much later point of time, when I did not find problems in my workflow, I delete those files.
You may use "Export as Catalog" to get the data and edits back to C: . Disconnect F: then and open your newly created catalog fom C:
- Connect your disk F:
- Go to the place where the data are located (if you called them BACKUP, there will be a directory BACKUP).
- Copy that directory to your disk C: (or a different directly connected disk) at a location of your choice.
- Now disconnect the drive F: - that is to avoid working with the data on the drive F:
- Your copied directory (BACKUP in my example) will contain a bunch of directories and one file.
- The file will have the extension .lrcat and there your edits will be stored as instructions on how to edit the files.
- A directory ... Previews.lrdata - prevews will be stored there. This directory is of lesser importance.
- Your pictures as structured on F:
- When you open the catalog via Lightroom, Lightroom will complain about missing directories and pictures as the disk F: is not attached. That will be good news because you moved them.
You see that by the "?" icons on the directories and the "!" icons on the pictures. Given you have copied the the previews also, you will, however, see the image previews.
- You need to reconnect the directories and you are done... for that you select the top directory (in this case "00000 LS") Right Mouse Button->Find Missing Folder ... select the correct folder and you're done.
Thank you for your very helpful and speedy response. I'm now back in business with my C drive catalogue.
If you know of a good back up system I'd be glad to hear from you.
I'm using this one: https://www.lupinho.net/en/hardlinkbackup/
The advantage here is that you will find back your directory structure but that ONLY modified files get copied. Each set, however, represents the whole structure. To understand the concept, you need to understand the concept of hardlinks (Hard Links and Junctions (Windows) ). I'm using the pro version but the free version works the same with some features less.
You may try the free version and if you need more features, you switch to the paid one. There are regularly updates.
Thanks for that. Jolly useful.