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Purging Lightroom Backups

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New one to me this, was I alone in ignorance?


My system backups were taking longer and longer to execute, eventually my backup software hung up, so great was the task.


I had a hunch that it was something to do with Lightroom, and indeed my aged version of that software produces multiple backups, they are not purged when a new backup is created.  Following some massive deletions going back to 2017 or thereabouts,  all was well. 


There's plenty of stuff on the Internet telling you how to find your LR backups.

Edited by Bryan
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You can control the frequency of LR backups in the Catalog Settings. I don't recall if this has changed much since older versions but I don't think so. However, I prefer to back up the catalog file only manually by copying in the OS not in LR. This is simple and takes a few seconds as it is a small file. If you do auto backups, it backs up the previews as well which can take up a lot of space afer a while. I've never had a catalog corrupt in my years of using LR though - it is very stable. 

Edited by MDM
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I clean out my backups periodically, every few months. I usually move a few to a permanent backup drive and delete all but the last few. That and the Adobe cache files quickly grow out of control. Even with a 2TB internal hard drive,  I'm constantly moving files to a permanent drive (vs the weekly in use backup drives that mirror my computer) just to keep my laptop's hard drive from filling up.


I used to back up all the catalog backups before deleting. It's so easy to just figure you've got plenty of backup drives, but I learned the hard way that just removing files to a backup rather than going in and purging the ones you really will never need is much more efficient. So, my advice, delete all but a few. 


Here's an example of what not to do: These days, when I'm working on huge multilayer PS files, I put them on a little SanDisk 1TB SSD rather than cluttering up my laptop's drive. I figured I had plenty of space but after just a couple of months, I had only 361GB left. Turns out, I'd "temporarily" moved some LR catalog files there because I wasn't near my 12TB drive when I was purging. Big mistake. But now they're old enough to have been replaced with newer backups, so they went in the trash. 


Going through my old backup drives (5-7 years old) to move stuff to newer ones, I found a lot of old LR catalogs including a bunch of small "Export as Catalog" ones I'd made in order to keep my LR catalogs on my iMac and Macbook in sync. So much easier now that I have one computer and a monitor rather than a dual computer setup. I used to think that having more backups was better but when your computer crashes, a haphazard mishmash of backups is a nightmare to organize. 


I have a question about purging previews. They take ages to build especially for my 61MP files, so I keep them rather than letting LR purge them after 30 days, especially since I'm as likely to be processing files from 2015 on an attached hard drive as I am files from 2023. All my backup drives are in my single huge LR catalog. Is there a way to selectively purge previews without having to purge them all? And what if I have both smart and regular previews? Advice welcome. 





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BTW, thanks for the reminder. I just deleted 24GB worth of backups. Hadn't purged in a while. 


I have LR set to backup when I exit. 


Also, if you use Carbon Copy Cloner (and maybe it's the same with other backup software), you need to close LR before you back up or it won't copy correctly. 


This article about optimizing performance and clearing out unneeded Adobe files looks very helpful



Edited by Marianne
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Thanks for the responses. 


My copy of LR is set to backup once a week. I backup my hard drive too infrequently, basically when I remember to do it, maybe once a month. To be honest my LR files are of less importance to me than my documents relating to finance and other activities as I don't shoot for clients, the photos are only of interest to me.


I'll take a look at that link thanks Marianne.


Interesting to know that it is possible to backup the catalogue without the previews, but I'm too bone idle to start to do that manually !

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