How do I restore a Lightroom backup?

As we said in the last post, Lightroom’s integral backup simply takes a copy of your catalog and places it in dated subfolder, so restoring is a simple matter of opening that backup file.

However let’s exercise a little more caution… you wouldn’t want to risk damaging your last backup, so first, you’ll want to duplicate it and put it back in the right place.

Let’s assume your main catalog is stored at My DocumentsMy PicturesLightroomLightroom 2 Catalog.lrcat, and your existing catalog has somehow become corrupted, or you’ve deleted photos accidentally.

By default your backups would be stored at My DocumentsMy PicturesLightroomBackupsdated foldersLightroom 2 Catalog.lrcat.

First rename that main catalog, rather than deleting it, just in case you want to go back to it.  We’ll call it ‘Old Catalog.lrcat’ for the moment.

Now go into your last dated backup folder and select the Lightroom 2 Catalog.lrcat file (or whatever your catalog is called).  Copy it (Ctrl-C for Windows, Cmd-C for Mac) and go back to your main catalog folder where your catalog usually lives.  Paste your copy of the backup catalog (Ctrl-V for Windows, Cmd-V for Mac) into that main catalog folder.  Doing that copy/paste has left your backup catalog exactly where it was, but created a copy in the normal location.

Double click on that catalog to open in Lightroom.  If it works correctly, you can now delete ‘Old Catalog.lrcat’, and carry on working.


  1. Tom Scott says:

    I did all the above, and reopened the catalog in LR. The folders seem to be there, but the when I click on a photo, I get a reply that the photo is offline or missing. What am I doing wrong?

    [That means that Lightroom doesn’t know where to find the photo – someone’s moved, renamed or deleted it using another program. You need to find that file (restoring from your own backups if necessary) and then click on the question mark in the corner of the thumbnail to point Lightroom back in the right direction. Don’t forget that files are never ‘in’ Lightroom, and aren’t included in the catalog backups. – VB]

  2. Thanks!

    Smart Bloggers are fantastic. Good Work.

  3. Hello.

    I have backed up my catalog which resides on an external hard drive. I have a brand new computer with no photos on it at all, all my photos are also backed up on the same external hard drive. I plan to hook up my external hard drive to the new computer which has LR already loaded. Could you please tell me the easiest way to move everything over (photos and catalog) so no links are broken? All my photos are in the folder “Photos”, do I simply copy this folder onto my new computer? Are any link going to be broken?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can render! :)

    [Perry, I can do better than that…. here’s the whole thread on the subject of moving to a new computer: – VB]

  4. Superb and thank you so much!!!

  5. I have copies the catalog and all original location picture folders to my laptop. Everything works fine, except the star rating are missing. Not a major problem… just womdering why this could happen. Any advice? Thanks in advance.
    [That shouldn’t be technically possible, as star ratings are stored in the catalog. Is all of the rest of the data, i.e. Develop settings showing ok? Could it simply be that you haven’t got the star ratings showing the grid view? Perhaps check the View menu > View Options? – VB]

  6. i have accidentally delete a subfolder in my LR catalog which contains hundreds of developed. rated, color labeled files. How may i recover this processed files? without start all over again the developing process? i have tried my latest backup ircat, but it did not up to the status/progress of all my developed files. please help!! thank you

    [If you’ve just done it, Ctrl-Z/Cmd-Z may do the trick – or repeat until you get back to that stage. That’ll work if you’ve not closed LR since though. I’m sorry to say, if you’ve removed the images from the catalog, and they weren’t in the last backup, then we can reimport the files, but there’s no way of bringing back the settings. Other thing to check, before you start processing them again, is whether you have ‘automatically write to xmp’ turned on in Preferences, in which case selecting the files in Grid view and going to Metadata menu > Read Metadata from Files should bring many of the settings back. – VB]

  7. i delete the folder by pointing the folder & pressing control + left click ( Mac ), which pop up a “Remove” command

  8. Having just accidentally deleted my photos, I panicked and tried to stop it from completing the task by hitting control-alt-delete. Unfortunately, lightroom had already deleted nearly half of my photos. I went to the recycling bin, and restored the pics to their original folders, but the edits are all gone. So I followed the instructions for restoring the backup, but the edits still haven’t come back. SOMEBODY READ THIS!!!! LIGHTROOM SHOULD GIVE YOU A BIG FLASHING WARNING WHEN YOU ARE ABOUT TO DELETE ALL OF YOUR PICTURES WITH EDITS!!! In the library module, when all of the pictures are selected, the light grey “selected” color is not different enough from the darker grey “unselected” color, and it’s easy to think you are about to delete only one picture, when in fact you are about to delete all of them. So in case this happens, there should be a CLEARER warning that has to be acknowledged before the delete command is executed. Currently, the warning is the same whether it is one photo or all your photos, the only difference being the plural form “photos” is used instead of “photo’. When you are in a routine of working with lightroom, it is easy to miss this warning. Something is needed to catch your attention and alert you to the fact that you are about to delete the whole catalogue, or a significant portion of it, including edits.

    ,[Sorry to hear you’ve had such a nightmare Shutterbug! I’ve just been back to double check exactly what the dialog says, and it reads “Delete the 200 selected master photos from disk, or just remove them from Lightroom? Delete moves the files to Finder’s Trash, removes them from Lightroom, and cannot be undone.” and then it gives you a choice of Remove or Delete from Disk. I think flashing lights would be a bit distracting…. 😉

    That said, do you have any catalog backups? Perhaps I can help you retrieve your settings for your other images? – VB]

  9. i did import files to hope that the develop settings was back to normal & LR accidentally quit by it self after the deletion, i also did not have ‘automatically write to xmp’ turned on in Preferences..and read Metadata from Files did not bring many of the settings back. is there still any chances getting the developed settings back? thank you

  10. Jim Bottorff says:

    Last night I thought I would check off another task from my to-do list, by emailing a couple of images to a new client. Opened Lightroom and saw that I hadn’t connected my external drive with the images. Plugged in the USB cable and Lightroom crashed. Tried restarting Lightroom, including a system reboot, and all I could get was error messages that the catalog was bad. The default repair didn’t work. Stupid me, that will teach me, but not all is lost – all I have to do is a restore of my backup catalog.
    Well, the backup gave the same error messages. Now i’m in panic mode. Read all I could find online – seems I’m doing the restore correctly. Could there be another problem? Tried reinstalling Lightroom but that didn’t help. I’m not real sure I did a completely clean reinstall, since it didn’t ask for a serial number.
    Worst case, I can erase anything to do with Lightroom, reinstall it, then re-import all the images from the last three years. I hope I don’t have to do that.
    What are the best logical steps I should take to get back to a working Lightroom? Will Time Machine help any? What’s the best way to do a clean install? Can anyone repair a damaged catalog? Are there other files affected besides the .lrcat file?

    [Jim, for a start, don’t panic, I’m sure it’s probably fixable. Drop by and post it there – it’s far easier to chat by forum post, and we can run through the different options and what exactly the error messages say, and we should have you back up and running in no time. – VB]

  11. Helloc
    I would like to know if it would do any harm to store back ups on both the external hard drive and an exact copy in ‘my documents’ folder?

    [No harm I can think of – more backups the better! – VB]

  12. HELP! :) I am a very new user of LR but think it’s fantastic! Unfortunately though, I have spent a week importing, keywording and filing into Collections, a whole heap of images from a number of photographers setting up our image library in LR. Our designer then handed on an external harddrive which included additional and duplicate images from the same designers bar one. I imported these from the hard drive to LR on my laptop (wrong thing to do?) and all my previous Folders and Collections have disappeared.(AGH!)

    I tried going through the steps above but can’t find Lightroom backups in My Documents. Have I set it up wrong? Is there any hope of retrieving the 700-odd images which have gone?

    HELP :)

    [Sounds very odd. Probably easier to chat on the forum than by blog comment. It may be something really simple and easy to fix. Drop by and we’ll see if we can get you back on track. – VB]

  13. Laurie Knowlton says:

    I have followed your blog, and must say i love it and enjoy reading it. I never thought that i would be needing to post a plea for help, but here i am. I had the incredible bad luck of having two hard drives crashing — first my computer, and then apparently the new external drive i had been using for LR backups. Luckily, i had an old catalog back up drive (the last was from last August, but it’s better than nothing). I have restored the catalog. The proper # of photos show up, names, dates, keywords — everything is there except the thumbnail preview (and the picture itself). It says the file is missing. So i assume i will have to somehow re-build my catalog? How do i do that? Also, I had the (and i swear — this really has happened to me — you should see my back up system now) bad luck of losing another external drive back in December and that data was salvaged by a professional. but it’s not on the same drive and nor is it sorted by dates (it was the only way he could pull the data off the damaged drive). So without preview thumbnails, it’s very hard if not impossible to rebuild the catalog. Any insight/words of wisdom would be very appreciated!

    [Ouch, you have been in the wars Laurie! When LR says the file is missing, it means that it’s not in the location or with the name its expecting. To solve that, you either put the photos back where they were, or you point LR to the new location. So, do you have recent backups of the photos, or as the salvaged drive as good as it gets? And if the salvaged drive is as good as it gets, do the photos at least have the same filenames as they did before? What kind of folder structure did you have?- VB]

  14. Laurie Knowlton says:

    lol. i was such a bad person prior to this, and my folder structure was horrible. really the only stuff i had done was import by date, so i do have that. very few were actually named. :( i know, i know. live and learn the hard way. and my collections and star system still seems to be in place, but it’s impossible to see what the picture is.

    and oddly, i just tried to find the files to rebuild the catalog, nothing seems to be matching up. I think what i may have to do is just reimport all i have and start fresh — overwhelming when you are talking 25,000 shots.

    How can i point LR to a new location? for each folder?

    [Import by date’s pretty good going! So, are the photos themselves still in those dated folders or not? Or did the file salvaging change everything? What kind of filenames DID you have in LR? And what filenames do the files have now?

    I do have a few ideas, depending on where you’re up to so far, and what filenames are like, so I wouldn’t panic about 25k quite yet. There are still solutions… it just depends… – VB]

  15. Laurie Knowlton says:

    sorry — forgot to say THANKS!

    [You are very welcome Laurie! – VB]

  16. Laurie Knowlton says:

    thanks for not saying “you silly girl”! The file salvaging changed everything — they are not by dates anymore (and i can’t even sort on my hard drive by date — the computer is reading them as the date the salvage took place).

    the filenames were ones generated by the camera.

    [Hmmmmm, ok, you do have a job on your hands! I do have one idea, that would, in theory, be quicker than re-editing 25k pictures. It involves 2 basic ideas…. and of course, before attempting it, you make sure you’ve got backups of absolutely everything.

    1. You import the photos into a new temporary catalog, which, in the process, would allow you to rename the photos to a YYYYMMDD-HHSS filename (taking the capture date and time of the metadata of the file, obviously) and put them into the same kind of folder structure that you had before. You’d then delete that catalog, because it would have served its purpose, to get all of the photos into the right folder structure with reproducible names. And you’d back that up somewhere safe!!!!

    2. You’d have to take a chunk of files – 9999 I guess, or less if you were doing it in smaller chunks – and duplicate them and use them as ‘dummy files’. You’d rename them to the camera filenames – IMG_0001 to IMG_9999 – and drop them into the same kind of folder structure that LR’s expecting. That would allow LR to see ‘dummy’ files, so it would stop thinking that files are offline, although it would actually be looking at the wrong files. Once LR thinks there are files back, it will allow you to rename them to the YYYYMMDD-HHSS names using its existing capture times from the metadata. Having done all of that, you can delete the dummy files, and replace them with the ones you created in step 1.

    Confused now? I didn’t say it was going to be easy, but depending on how much editing you’ve done to those 25k, it might be quicker. – VB]

  17. Laurie Knowlton says:

    luckily, i only really had edited about 200 or so, so it may be easier to just import again and start over. At least i know it will be clean.

    I also just realized that you have been kind enough to be helping me over at the Adobe forum for LR3. I have been dying to delve into 3, but had been concerned about stability issues.

    Once I get LR2 fixed, and a good backup on the clean catalog, I think i will switch over to LR3 beta.

    Are you fairly confident in LR’s catalog process and that in cases unlike mine, it does work using the backup? i’m running scared right now. I’ve also been a little nervous about using a beta before it’s released. But i figure it should be released soon.

    thanks again for your help!

    [Yeah, LR’s catalogs and backups are fine as long as you have sensible backups. If you want a belt-and-braces approach, check the XMP section in the book. – VB]

  18. Laurie Knowlton says:

    i actually made headway! And i have most of the files back in the chaos I had them. Now i just need to organize them!

    What are your thoughts about moving the catalog into LR3 and organizing from there (after doing a backup in 2 of coarse!)

    i bought your book today (LR3 version) and it looks great!

    [Well done! LR3 is a beta so it comes with risks, although it’s pretty stable. You won’t be able to transfer your existing catalog at the moment, so it’ll only work out if you’re starting from scratch. Or import into LR2 for now, organize them there, and then upgrade your catalog when LR3 comes out. – VB]

  19. I have a related weirdness which I can’t find any solutions for. I just recently started using LR2. And so I upgraded my catalog from LR1, and at first my keywords did not appear at all. I did this again, and now they do appear, but are not linked to all the photos. In other words, the list of keywords is present but no longer is ‘connected’ to the vast majority of images that I keyworded, in LR 1. Its strange that it did retain some of the keyword connections…. In any case, with about 40K images, which have been carefully keyworded over the last 3 years, I am super frustrated to have to go about keywording everything again! (nauseating idea really…) ….. So, is there any way to get LR 2 to restore the connections between the keywords (in the list) and the photos that were keyworded before, but somehow have lost their keywording in the upgrade process? Perplexed… AFS

    [That’s a really weird one Andrew. Did you skip straight to 2.7? There were some keyword bugs in 2.0. Drop by and we can chat there more easily and figure out how to solve it for you. – VB]

  20. I have just read this entire thread and it’s great so thanks for that. Without sounding completely clueless I am confused about backing up my files to the very basic part. When I backup my catalogue I am assuming that has any edit that I have done to my photos included, not just ratings and keywords. Then what will saving and XMP to the photo do? And how can I save all of the XMPs to my older files (do I even need to if my catalogue is saved?) … Thanks as I am genuinely confused.

    [Yes, everything is stored in the catalog. XMP is only a secondary backup that’s only used if you import photos into a new catalog or choose Metadata menu > Read Metadata from Files. As long as your catalog is safely backed up, you have everything you need. – VB]

  21. Dear Lightroom Queen,
    I am in need of your expertise. I accidentally removed finished images from LR library before I had a chance to export them as jpgs. For some reason I thought if I import the RAW files to LR again all of the changes I have done in post-processing will be present. But, I learned that’s not the case; I lost everything I have worked on. I hope I can somehow recover this information; I followed your advice with LRCAT file, but this file contains information pertaining to the most recent LR import. After I removed my finished images I imported the raw set again but the LRCAT file contains all of the information attached to this set not the older edited one that I need. I am hoping for another trick in the hat where I will be able to recover the previous import; otherwise I will have to go through all of these images again. I wish I found your blog before I imported the new set; next time I will know. I just hope you may a miracle trick that I will be able to use and save myself some time. Thanks in advance for all of your help.

    [Hi Vassyl, it depends on whether you have a backup copy that includes the edits for those photos. If you do, it’s possible to merge those settings back into your working catalog. If you don’t have a recent backup with those settings, I’m afraid you’re going to have to put it down to experience, sorry. For a future safety net, you might want to go to Catalog Settings and turn on ‘automatically write to xmp’ which will store the most important edits with the files as well as in the catalog. If you’d written to xmp, then reimporting the files would have brought most of the edits back too. – VB]

  22. Paul Hopkins says:

    Hi there,

    I have a similar issue to most of the people on this forum, and it’s making me tear my hair out! I did a backup from lightroom, and saved it to my external hard drive. I then decided to open the backup catalog, disaster, I lost all the editing I had done on my entire library, and no amount of going backwards will restore it to previous settings.

    I haven’t deleted anything, still have all the original files (they’re located on the computer hard drive and the external one), but just have no idea how to get back to the original catalog I had up, which contained my edited photos. I’ve checked my computer hard drive for any other backup files (.lrcat), but it seems like there’s no way of restoring, Any ideas?!

    [Hi Paul. It’s probably easier to talk on the forum, but just to clarify, did you find your other lrcat files? By default it’ll be in your Pictures folder. It should still be there somewhere – try under the File > Recent Catalogs menu. – VB]

  23. If I take a backup catalogue and place it in the folder with metadata from the existing catalog, will the the backup catalog revert to its own metadata from its own date?

    I want to restore a catalogue from a few days ago before I made a huge mistake. In rearranging folders, I synced them and stripped the images of their metadata. I want that metadata back with the images.

    I’m not sure if that will happen with the method you propose.

    [Yes, duplicating the backup catalog and then double-clicking to open it should show all of the previous metadata, but if you’ve rearranged folders, you might have to relink some of the folders to their new locations. Don’t use Synchronize for that – you’ll need the Missing Files blog post for those instructions – /lightroom-thinks-my-photos-are-missing-how-do-i-?x-it/ – VB]

  24. Hello!
    I made a HUGE mistake. I inadvertently deleted some of my clients wedding photos out of my computer. Unfortunately, I did not back them up either. Mistake #2. I can see the photos in LR but it says that the files are missing or offline. I tried restoring the photos using the LR backup method but am having no luck. The photos do not even show up in the preview menu. Am I out of luck? HELP!
    Thank you so much.

    [Lindsay, I’m so sorry to hear that! I don’t suppose you still have the cards? If so, and you haven’t overshot the whole cards yet, then image rescue software would be the first thing to check. If you can’t do that, then LR/Viewer would at least allow you to retrieve LR’s own previews, which would be better than nothing. Before you do anything else though, back up that catalog and the previews file/folder next to it, just in case something goes wrong. – VB]

  25. Please could you help me
    I have a strange problem – I recently had 2 hard drives crash within a few days and decided to copy images from another current HDD onto a new HDD. The problem is, as I was reorganising my hard drives I renamed the original hard drive and lost all folders within Lightroom. I immediately gave it back it’s original name but the damage seemed to be done – The images are all still showing in the catelogue in “All Photographs” and colllections, and I can go into develop mode and all history states are there, but with the folders missing, working from “All Photographs” by ‘date” ‘camera’ and ‘lens’ in the library filter is so hard!!

    P.S. A new Volume title has appeared called Macintosh HD which is 925GB, but inside the folder it states:- Users 0 , Volumes 0

    I really hope you might be able to shed some light on this please – thank you.

    [Hmm! It’d be guesswork without seeing a screenshot – do you know how to take a screenshot? If so, either email it to me (via the Contact page) or post on and we’ll get you sorted, don’t worry. – VB]

  26. Hi Victoria, I hope you can help me, please. I just moved all of my photos to a new external drive via copy and paste and deleted the originals off my hard drive. Most folders were too large for the trash bin and bypassed. I immediately determined I had deleted my LR catalogs in the process. I have used two undelete data recovery programs and still see the catalog files on my hard drive but no easy way to recover these 1000s of subfolders or how I can repair things. Thanks for any advice!

    [Tom, it depends. You only really need the *.lrcat files and the photos themselves – it sounds like the subfolders that you’re referring to might be the previews, which will easily be rebuilt when you link the catalog back up with the photos. Just try double clicking on the catalog file and see if it works. If it doesn’t, either drop me an email or join us on and we’ll help you to get sorted out. – VB]

  27. Eric Richardson says:


    I hope you can help me with something that has me baffled. Stick with me through the explanation!

    I’m a pro and shoot approx 2Tb per year. I keep everything split by year>quarter>month>Day>Shoot Name. With a seperate LR Catalogue for each quarter (To save having one MONSTER catalogue.

    Each day I back up to an external drive, each week to a second external drive. (Yep, my backup is robust!) Each new quarter I delete images of my internal HDD to reclaim space, leaving two external copies. THEN Each new year I rebuild my HDD, and start all over again to keep things moving sweetly.

    To avoid having one VAST LR Catalogue, I have one catalogue per Quarter. So far so good. But if I need to go back a year I have to plug in the HDD, and open the LR catalogue. BUT adifferent drive letter is asigned, so have to go through the process of finding the new location.

    So question is this. Can the catalogues be set to look to a location relative to their location as opposed to a fixed drive letter? e.g “Look in /q1/april/2010_04_01_Fools Party as opposed to g:/q1/april/2010_04_01_Fools Party

    That make sense?

  28. Eric Richardson says:

    last line should read

    e.g “Look in ROOT/q1/april/2010_04_01_Fools Party as opposed to g:/q1/april/2010_04_01_Fools Party

    [Eric, drop by – it’s easier to talk there and figure out a suitable solution for you. – VB]

  29. Dakota Mikalyn says:

    i had a develop prseset file with many presets.
    but i deleted the folder by mistake, i wan ted to rename it but it seems that i clicked delete.
    can i restore the folder?
    in my lightroom folder in my images, there is a folder for lightroom perviews, another folder is backups and another file called lightroom 3 catlog and another 2 files end with Ircat.
    does this help me?
    i’m sorry for my bad english, hope you can help me to restore the presets

    [If you have a backup of your presets, then you could restore them, but those files you’ve listed don’t appear to be backups of presets, sorry. You could try checking your Trash or Recycle Bin to see if they’re in there. – VB]

  30. DaveHouse says:

    HELP!!! I messed up! I’m new to lr and I made a stupid mistake. I deleted the original files of a catalog thinking I was saving space. I did not backup this catalog before I did this very stupid thing and now my client is looking for there pix. Is there anyway to restore these photos from the catalog preview image?

    [Ouch! If you don’t have backups of the originals anywhere, then there is a way of saving whatever previews Lightroom has – I’ve just published it as a new blog post at /i-accidentally-deleted-my-photos-from-my-hard-drive-and-i-dont-have-backups-can-i-create-jpegs-from-lightrooms-previews/ – VB]

  31. OK I can see the nam eof the the files but it says I have moved the images and I haven’t I can not go back and restore locations for 14K pictures there has to be a better way please please please!!!!

    [Ysant, drop by and post the problem there – it’s far easier to talk in a forum situation. Don’t worry, we’ll get you sorted out. – VB]

  32. Allen Chernack says:

    I think it worked, ie restore my catalog. It opened, now to try to open it from the LR icon, LR3 user.

  33. Allen Chernack says:

    Yes, it worked but I had to choose which to open from a pop up window. I think I’m good now. Thanks to the Queen.

    [Brilliant, I’m really pleased to hear it Allen. – VB]

  34. Danny Clifford says:

    Hi, I hope you can help. I dont know what I have done, but I have obviously screwed up. I think it happened when I was trying to optimise and I had a power cut. Anyway, I have a catalog and I now cant see it in LR. I get the message saying “The Catalog named as *** was left in an inconsistant state. Lightroom must restore the catalog before proceeding” Well, it doesn’t restore. It just closes up after trying to restore> i have tried everything I can think of, but no joy. I am in real trouble here as I have loads of edited photos in that catalog that I desperately need to get to. Can you help????

    Best wishes, Danny

    [Hey Danny. Ouch, nasty problem. First question has to be, when was your last backup. Restoring your backup would be the simplest solution. If you don’t have a backup (please tell me you do!!!!), there are a couple of longshots we could try, but they are really longshots. – VB]

  35. Hi there. I have just erased my computer thanks to the “help” of Apple support. I had over 1100 images ready to be saved onto my external hard drive. I had edited them in lightroom originally. I tried importing the catalog from the lightroom backups. I got them to be in LR again. But they are not visable. I then tried to click on the question mark and locate the files where there had been before and it seems to only allow me to do this one by one. Is there another way to do this or can you suggest what I may do to get them back in LR so I may be able to export the edited images and then save them. At this point I am very scared I have lost everything!

    [Oh dear, very ‘helpful’. :-S If relinking one at a time is working, then don’t panic, you probably haven’t lost everything. So where were the photos before, and where are they now? And which LR version? It may be easiest to carry this conversation on by email or on the forum. – VB]

  36. im a stupid noob. haha well i deleted my lightroom catalog that had all my photos. basically i deleted all of everything off of lightroom by deleting like 1 folder called 2011. i dont know how i did it. i still have all the photos on my harddrive. is there anyway i can put them all back on lightroom. even the edited ones?

    • Hi Marshall. Er, ooooooops! Don’t suppose you have any backups anywhere, or can recover your previous catalog from the recycle bin? If not, then you’re down to importing your photos into a new catalog, but you may well have to do all of your editing again, as that would have been stored in the catalog you deleted. Sorry it’s not better news!

  37. Adriana_castano says:

    My back up and catalog… It is not showing any pics …. only the name says the file is missing ….

  38. Adriana_castano says:

    YAY …it ´s working now ……….. thank youuuuuuuuuuuu! ..guys always do back ups !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Cactusclouds says:

    hello I have just bought a copy of adobe lightroom 3 as it was on offer. I had a copy that my friend has given me which was not to be used as an update I understand, how to I remove safely lightroom 2 and instal my internet download from the internet safely? I hope I am not ging to corrupt files around?!

  40. Amykingphotography says:

    I have about 11000 photos within my lightroom catalogues, and I need to reformat my computer. What is the best way to backup this data so the images stay in hq full format, as well as if they have never been exported, it would still require the original photos on hardd rive to match to lightroom correct?

    How can i start this tedious project?:

  41. hi vcitoria, It’s such a pain and easy to get all ur photos selected and deleted in lightroom. I’ve recently accidently pressed delete when all my photos are selected in lightroom although i’ve been using this software for years. I’m able to restore back those photos from recycle bin however i would i have to edit them again. i’ve copy/paste the lightroom catalog after i’ve deleted those file before closing lightroom program. anyway that i can have those editing settings back ? by the way i’m using jpg only so there are no xmf files. thanks

    • Ouch, sorry to hear that yuliang.

      Do you have a catalog backup that may contain the settings for those files?

      • Thanks for the help Victoria. I do not have it. I’ve reused half man day to reedit all the photos again. The issue comes with my computer is really slow although I’m using 4GB RAM ,3Ghz processor with good graphic. Sometimes when lightroom is really slow, you kind of hit delete a few times and enter key a few times only to see the response a few seconds later and realize that you have deleted all your photos. I’ve enabled the “automatic XMP” as a safe measure. I wish adobe comes with some sort extra protection when all photos selected are being deleted.


        • As a useful doublecheck to remember, the delete dialog that shows up always says how many pictures you’re about to deleting. It would be good to get into the habit of reading that, and more importantly, backing up regularly, as a backup would have saved you. Sorry to hear you had to redo them!

  42. Hi Victoria,
    I had to do a system restore and now Lightroom only sees one catalog. I try to open a different catalog and Lightroom still only opens the same catalog. I created a new catalog but the .lrcat file is not created. I uninstalled Lightroom and re installed it with the same result. Not sure what to try next. Windows 7. Thanks in advance for any suggestions…

  43. Hi Victoria,

    I’m so confused!! Awhile back I lost my whole LR catalog as it was all stored on an 3 week old external hard drive that crashed. (Grr!) So, lesson learned, I now have 2 external hard drives that I try to keep duplicated in the event that one crashes. Well…Last week I backed up the catalog to both drives and also wanted to export the catalog (actual pictures) to the hard drive as well because I was under the impression that the LR back up is just the lrcat file (and stuff that I don’t know much about) not the actual pictures. So that was done. Well now when I open LR, all of my photos are missing. Every single picture (4800) except the very last import that I did AFTER the big move. As if that weren’t enough, I have tried backing up so many times that I have a bunch of LR folders with various dated catalogs/lrcat files/preview folders etc… and in a nutshell, I am losing my mind!! (no pun intended) When I go onto my hard drive where my catalog is backed up to, I click the latest one and it tries to open it in Photoshop (???) and I get an error saying it’s the wrong document type (well, duh, it’s not a PS document) SO don’t know why all of my backups are saving as PS documents either and now I’m wondering if I even have a backup! I might be a lost cause. Please help if you can!!

    • I think I might have found my catalog! After thinking about that last catalog export, I looked in the folder where I exported it to and there was an LRCAT file in there, so with LR open this time I clicked it and it opened! Whew. I guess if LR isn’t open it opens as a PS document! I seriously need to organize all of this better. Where is the best place to learn how to do all of that? Especially if it’s already a mess?

  44. Bobolicious says:

    thanks! worked great!

  45. Is it possible to restore tags without restoring the entire catalog? I’ve spent monts rebuilding my catalog of 40K + pictures with new tags, fixing dates, etc. I finished 3 years worth so far and in the process didn’t see that a folder of tags had been deleted. I have since made multiple changes and added another 10K pictures. I have many backups but what would be the the best way to restore just those tags that were deleted, or is it even possible?

    • Hi Dalmaar, tell me a bit more about what’s in each catalog? If it was any other kind of metadata, I’d suggest using something like LR/Transporter, but keywords weren’t writable by plug-ins last time I checked, so I’d have to double check the possibilities on that. There might be workarounds though.

  46. Burt Jones says:

    Hi Victoria, I keep LR4 on an EHD (both the .lrdata catalog and the Photo Library). I have made a mirror image copy on a 2nd EHD. When I open LR from the backup LR says all the images are missing. The .lrdata catalog is there but LR can’t find the images. Any suggestions? Thanks Burt

  47. Burt Jones says:

    I’m using OS X 10.7.4. The original EHD is called Lightroom Working and the backup I called Lighttoom Working Backup. Do you mean to say that all I need to do is changed the name? BTW, I went to your Forum page, joined, and opened a line of inquiry.

  48. Thanks! You’re a life saver.

  49. Hi,
    After a searching some time on internet I still can’t solve my problem. May be I can’t solve it at all but I’ll explain what I done.
    I installed Lightroom on fresh Windows before few days, still didn’t make catalog backup but that doesn’t matter now. Before deleting old windows C drive partition I make my single wedding catalog for each 3 weddings I got on D drive (safe place), then imported 1st wedding and everything was OK and by mistake I imported other 2 more wedding in same catalog of 1st wedding then I removed pictures from that 1st wedding by mistake, now I don’t have Lightroom settings for all 1st wedding images (I still got original raw’s). I still have .lrprev small thumbnail files in lrdata folder of that missing wedding, can that files help me to get back my LR settings or it’s gone?

    thank you in advance

    • Hi robertsu, I’m sorry to say the lrprev thumbnails won’t help. If you have a catalog backup or copy which includes the 1st wedding, I can help you restore them from there, but it doesn’t sound like that will be possible.

  50. Swapnil Desai says:

    I have done the backup by double clicking on the catalogue but in the Lightroom when I select any picture it says “This folder couldn’t be found.” Can you please help me with this ?

  51. A few months back, I backed up my lr5 catalogue on the external hard drive, following your advices. Today, I was trying to do some more editing on that old photos, but they all come with the (!). When I click on the (!), it says, that the file can not be located, and that it’s previous location was: (an here comes my lr backup folder located on the external hd). But when I open this backup folder, I have all my dated folders listed there, but whatever I open, it says “no items match your search”. If I just access this backup folder from “my computer” (not through LR), I can still see my folders listed, but whatever I open it says that the folder is empty. LR shows all of these photos, but it will not allow me to process those previously processed photos, although, I am still able to process the unprocessed originals and those converted to JPEGs. Note that all of them are stored in the same place and were backed up at the same time. Please help! What have I done wrong and is there any chance to recover my old edits?

    • Hi Anna, you’ve mentioned your back up folders – but where are your working folders? You say that all of your backup folders are empty – how were you backing them up? And where are the unprocessed originals you mentioned stored? Are they unprocessed versions of the same photos? Can you see them in Lightroom’s catalog too?

      • Hi Victoria. Thank you for your fast response. Fortunately, I managed to solve my problem, by locating each missing photo manually. It is a bit inconvenient but at least I have my edits back. I store my original photos on the same external drive that I store my so called back up. And yes, they are unprocessed versions of the missing photos. I can see all of the photos (originals and edits) in LR’s catalog. I have no clue what have I done wrong then, but just tried to back up some photos now, using the same method as before (“Export this Folder as a Catalog”), and this time everything is working fine. Thank you for your support.

        • Well done for fixing it Anna. I’m not 100% sure what you’ve done either! Some screenshots of what you can see might help. You’re welcome to email them to me if you get stuck again. Oh, and since you said you keep your backups on the same external drive, please please please make sure you have another backup on another drive too. I’d hate to hear your drive died.

  52. Dear Victoria

    Only yesterday I upgraded my iMac OS X to El-Capitan, which it stripped out all of my mailboxes and 10 years of email; thanks to Carbon Copy Cloner (Indespensible Mac backup software) I was able clone my iMac’s OS X back to Mavericks.

    Today, just after upgrading to LR 6.2 and I should have learnt from yesterday, all of my 2015_Amsterdam images disappeared; fortunately I had backed up earlier in the day (images from ext HD & my Lightroom Catalog .lrcat on internal HD).

    I found this article and also referred to p.67 in the bible – LR6-The Missing FAQ and was reassured by your statement, ‘ Now you can relax in the knowledge that your data is protected’. anyway to cut a long story short all in now well and working fine.

    The message is Backup – You can not get enough of it. Thanks for your help.


  1. […] to undo it. Was feel pretty dumb about that, and frustrated, but I came across this little bit: How do I restore a Lightroom backup? | The Lightroom Queen By opening my last catalog backup, I wiped out "auto tone" from all my pictures. There were some […]

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