Lightroom Tip: Backing Up Huge Lightroom Files

lightroom-logo.jpgWhen searching for a backup solution I was most fascinated with the option of online storage. My major concern was the huge catalog files that Lightroom creates. I even listed the huge catalog files a deadly sin :)

I got a great tip on the comments explaining how to use XMP files to override the huge files issue. Thanks Jigar. (Unfortunately, the comment got deleted as part of my fight with a spam attack. Please post the comment again so I can provide appropriate credit).

My Lightroom workflow is very similar to the workflow Kerry showed on his Lightroom workflow video. That mean my catalog is always changing/evolving/growing. It also means that my backup software will notice that the file has changed and try to back it up after every session. Kinda heavy with a 60 Megs file. This is where XMP comes in to play.

One of Lightroom features is to allow you to save small portions of your catalog as XMP files. Those XMP files will reside next to your raw files and save the development changes you made with Lightroom. If you shied away from Lightroom, this may bring you back.

Once you enable XMP (Edit -> catalog settings -> Metadata -> Automatically write changes to XMP) Lightroom will save a small XMP file near every RAW file with the latest develop settings of this file.

The Good

  • Once you enable XMP, you can backup your small-almost-unchanging XMP files instead of your huge-ever-changing catalog file
  • XMP is a great format for on the go, instead of exporting from catalog and importing back to catalog to preserve Lightroom develop settings.
  • XMP is a great back in case your catalog ever crashes (and they sometimes do).

The Bad

  • XMP does not support develop history – it will only show you the latest state of the image. That means that you can not go back if you don’t have the catalog as well.
  • No support for Lightroom attributes – XMP files will not show you how your file was flagged, of which collections it belongs to.
  • When setting Lightroom to support XMP, it will only do it from the moment of selection, you will have to manually export the files that are already in the system to XMP.