This blog text is for all of you Lightroom users out there. The importance of backing your image files cannot be underestimated, but if you are using Lightroom to edit your photos there is more. Lightroom does NOT save the edits into the original image file. In fact the image files are intact and in the original state even after serious retouching via Lightroom. Lightroom stores the changes in the so called Catalog. All the edits you ever do in Lightroom are stored in this .lrac file. Hence, it is really important to take regular backups of this file. I suggest using the option you can find in the Lightroom catalog settings to backup automatically at least once a day. In addition to this, take a copy of your catalog file to some other backup disc drive regularly. Drawback is that over the time the size of the catalog file grows really huge and it takes lots of disk space to have several copies around. To free disc space I clean up the old versions regularly.
There is a possibility that some day the catalog file gets corrupt and Lightroom fails to open the file. I have experienced this three times already during the past few years. Should this happen and you have used only one catalog for all your edits, you have lost all of them without the backups. Two times out of the three I had a recently taken a backup copy of the catalog file available and could revert to it. However the third time when I faced the threaded corrupt catalog file, I had done several long hours of photo editing since the last backup. It was a horrifying moment to realize that all those edits where gone, almost. That moment could have been even more horrifying if the last available catalog had been weeks or months old. Remember to take the backups!
However there is one more way of recover the edits if the catalog file is lost…
Now The Most Important Tip:
Turn this option on!
You want to turn on the option to “automatically save changes into XMP-files”. It is crazy that this is option is disabled by default. It is also unfortunate that this option is not written in self-evident way for those who are not so familiar with XMP-files. Enabling this option means that Lightroom stores every edit you do into XMP-file next to the original image file. If you lose your catalog or need to revert to some older version of the catalog you can re-import the edits from the XMP-files by right clicking the source folder in folder tab at the left side of the Lightroom screen and choosing “synchorize folder”. This makes Lightroom to read the image edits from the XMP-files and saves them into the catalog, and voila! This was my savior when I got the corrupt catalog and the older version of the catalog backup did not have all the edits included. I got my edits back by synchronizing the folders again based on the XMP-files. I hope this article helps other Lightroom users from possible data loss.