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Deleting Old Lightroom Backups

Hi Folks:

I still remember a computer teacher of mine from… let’s just say more than twenty years ago… telling us of a project where he gave everyone in the class several pages of text to type in, set them to it and waited until they were about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way done, then turned off the power to the computer system.  Amid the groans of everyone who was sitting in front a terminal he said, “Let’s talk about backups.”

Computers have changed a lot since then.  It used to be with UNIX for example (and still is), that UNIX had no error messages.  If you told UNIX to delete everything off your hard drive it simply said, “Okay”, and did it.  There was also no ‘undo’ button.  Most software today has an option to autosave your work at a specific time period, and I highly recommend you use it.  I also highly recommend you backup your computer’s hard drive to an external source.  As to how much to backup, and when, there’s only one answer to that question, and it’s a question in itself… “How much can you afford to lose?”  Remember that EVERYTHING on your computer is ephemeral.  Barring theft or natural disaster there’s still the knowledge that someday your hard drive will die.  It’s not an ‘if’, only a ‘when’.  As far as backup strategies, how often, when, where, what… there are plenty of resources available online for that, or you can find someone knowledgeable to talk to about this.  Don’t put it off!

That’s not what I wanted to write about, but I’ve heard a few too many people tell me that they’ve lost _____ and there’s simply no reason for it.

Now then… I have Lightroom set to backup my Catalogue and related files once a week (Edit/Catalog Settings-Win or Lightroom/Catalog Settings-Mac), and it stores all of those backups on my computer’s hard drive.  All of my images, catalogue files  and everything else on my computer are backed up to external drives as well.  However, I came across a link this morning on Matt Kloskowski’s “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips” page on deleting old Lightroom backups.  I know Lightroom has been backing up my files because once a week it asks me to do so and I say yes.  What I hadn’t thought to consider is that it doesn’t have an ‘auto purge’ feature for old backups.  I still had backups on my computer from several years ago.

Now, I make no claim for this information, but I just tried it and it worked well for me.  The article was written by photographer Chris Shepherd.  It’s pretty simple if you know much about computers, but it is for Windows users only.  There may be a similar avenue for Mac users, but you’ll have to find it somewhere else.  Of course you proceed from here taking responsibility for your own actions.  Here’s the link: Deleting old Lightroom backups.

As for me I set it up to run weekly (Lightroom backs up my catalogue files weekly) so from now on it will keep my system clean, but the first time it ran (today) it freed up some 30GB of hard drive space and I’m pretty fastidious about keeping my catalogue small and clean of junk image files.  My thanks to Chris!!

NB: In his post Chris mentions two file locations: [directory]\Lightroom\Backups and [directory]\Lightroom\Archives\Backups.  I don’t have a [directory]\Lightroom\Archives\Backups directory on my computer.  YMMV!

Mike.

P.S. You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

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