Back up and restore Adobe Lightroom

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If you use Lightroom to organize and edit your photos, backing up Lightroom's catalog, settings, and metadata files is almost as important as backing up your actual photos.

This article provides background information and best practices for which Lightroom files you should and should not back up, as well as tips for restoring your Lightroom files.


 Non-Crashplan products

Information about products from other manufacturers is intended as a resource to help you get the most out of CrashPlan products. However, our technical support engineers cannot provide direct assistance for these products. For assistance with products not developed by CrashPlan, contact the product's manufacturer.

 Make your files available offline

The guidance in this article applies to Adobe's "Lightroom Classic" by default. Users of "Lightroom" and Adobe's Creative Cloud must store local copies of their Lightroom files so that CrashPlan can back them up. Follow Adobe's instructions to edit your Local Storage preferences.

What to include in your backup file selection


Obviously, backing up your photos is critically important. The Lightroom catalog does not actually contain your photos—they must be backed up separately. The CrashPlan app backs up your user directory by default. If you store photos outside your user directory, or you previously modified the default file selection, you may need to update your backup file selection to ensure it includes all of your photos.

 Back up both your original files and exported photos

Back up both your original files and exported photos
Backing up your original photos is most important, but don’t forget to include photos exported from Lightroom in your backup file selection as well.

Lightroom catalog

Backing up your Lightroom catalog file is extremely important—it contains all the details about edits, keywords, and ratings you have applied to photos.

Editing photos in Lightroom is nondestructive, which means Lightroom never changes the original photos. Instead, Lightroom records the details of your edits in a catalog file. The Lightroom catalog file also includes the location of each photo on your computer, as well as metadata for the photo, such as keywords and ratings.

To find your catalog, see Where is my catalog located? on Adobe's Catalog FAQ page. After locating your catalog file, add the file to your backup selection. If you have more than one Lightroom catalog, make sure to add all of them to your backup file selection.

 Backing up open catalog files

The CrashPlan app may not be able to completely back up your catalog file while it is open in Lightroom. Make sure to exit Lightroom periodically and allow enough time for the CrashPlan app to back up the catalog. You can also use Lightroom to create catalog backups and add the catalog backup to your backup file selection.  

Lightroom settings

Lightroom settings include your develop presets, custom watermarks, and other preferences, so backing them up is also very important. The default location of these files varies depending on your device's operating system and your version of Lightroom.

Add these files to your backup file selection:

  • Lightroom preferences
  • Lightroom settings
  • Lightroom presets
  • Camera Raw settings
  • Camera Raw presets
  • Preferences

See Adobe Lightroom help for specific file locations, and then add those locations to your backup file selection.


Metadata in Lightroom includes a record of edits made to images, IPTC/EXIF data, and other data related to the images. This data is stored in Lightroom's catalog files, but it can also be written to separate files to improve portability and provide redundancy in case a catalog becomes corrupted or is otherwise unavailable.

It's still important to keep your Lightroom catalogs selected for backup, but writing out XMP data regularly makes restoring and importing files easier in the future, while also preserving your edits and embedded data.

Since metadata is either written into the original file (in the case of JPEG, TIFF, PSD, or DNG formats) or to XMP sidecars at the location images are stored (in the case of all other RAW files), CrashPlan automatically backs up this metadata as long as the original image files are already included in your backup file selection.

Writing metadata to your files or XMP sidecar files as part of your regular workflow also makes it easier to import images into Photoshop and other Lightroom catalogs. You can also configure Lightroom to do this automatically, although performance may be impacted.

To learn more about managing metadata, see Adobe Lightroom help articles Metadata basics and actions and Advanced metadata actions.

What to exclude from your backup file selection

Lightroom creates preview files for your photos, and these previews can grow to be several hundred gigabytes (GB) in size over time. You exclude these files for several reasons:

  • Previews are nonessential cache files. Previews are a great feature of Lightroom and can help speed up Lightroom's workflow, but they are built or rebuilt automatically as needed. If Lightroom detects a preview is missing or out-of-date, it simply creates a new preview. If your Lightroom data needs to be restored, preview files will not serve any practical use.
  • Previews slow down your backup. Lightroom stores thousands—or possibly tens or even hundreds of thousands—of previews for photos in the Lightroom catalog. Because the CrashPlan app focuses on backing up new and newly modified files first, the previews may be backed up before your more important files.

 Remove the following preview and cache files from your backup file selection:

  • Preview cache
  • Smart Preview cache
  • Adobe Camera Raw cache

See Adobe Lightroom help for specific file locations, and then remove those files from your backup file selection.

Restore files

After restoring Lightroom data, particularly if the photos themselves are restored to a different location, you may need to tell Lightroom where to find your restored files. See Adobe Lightroom help for details about how to locate missing files.

External resources

Adobe Lightroom Help

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