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Can I delete older catalog backup files?

Joined
Nov 5, 2018
Messages
8
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Intermediate
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Cloud Service
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Lightroom Classic CC
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Windows 10
I normally run a backup of my catalog if I did any work to pictures. I have over a year's worth of backup catalog files. Are these backup catalog files incremental or full backups? Can I delete backup files if they are more than 6 months old?
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
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Southampton, UK
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They're all full backups, so you can delete any you fancy. On page 56, I recommend keeping a couple of older backups in addition to the current ones, for example, 1 year old, 6 months old, 3 months old, 1 month old, plus the most recent 4 or 5 backups. You never know when you might discover a mistake you made a few months ago, and want to retrieve settings for some photos from a much older backup.
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
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My standard answer is that you can delete any that you won't need for recovery from "stupid user mistakes". I've gone as far back as 6 months to recover keywords on over 2000 images that were removed n a big mistake.

I keep mine without regard to space used on a spare disk. The disk is over 8 years old and will eventually fail. So I don't keep any critical user data and 5 years worth of backups is worth the risk of disk failure.
 
Joined
May 9, 2015
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Similar answer. I keep them all for the last 6 months or so. Then one a week for those between 6 months and 18 months old. Then one a month for those between 18 months and 3 years and one per quarter for those older than 3 years. I guess I'm still suffering from habits developed in over 40 years working in Information Technology. Those date ranges are rough as I only go back and purge old backups when I happen to think about it. And, of course those backups are on a different drive than the active catalog and are also backed up to the Cloud.

One tip you - and anyone else reading this - may want to consider is this. Within my "LR Backups" folder, I have a sub folder for each full LR version (not dot releases) such as "LR5 backups", "LR6 Backups", etc. The reason is that if you do need to recover from an older backup, in most cases that backup can only be used that a single version of LR. If you try to use it with an newer version it will be forced to make a new copy of the catalog structured for the newer version and if you try to open it with an older version it just won't work. So, it's convenient to have the version number obvious from the get go.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
271
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I've written a small powershell script that automatically manage the LR backups.
It removes the backups older than "x" days, but always keeps the last "n" backups. These values "x" and "n" are defined in variables "LastMod" and "FilesToKeep" respectively and can be easily changed to meet your need.
On my PC, this script is started automatically every day.

Code:
#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
#                   Script Suppress LR Backup
# Version 1.2
# Last update : 30/01/2019
#
# Purpose
# =======
# This script will remove all but the n most recent LR catalog backup
# files, providing they are old enough.
# If a backup file has been created less than 30 days ago it won't be
# deleted anyway.
# The number of files to keep is defined in $FilesToKeep
# The oldest aging to keep is defined in $lastmod
#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

# Declaring variables

#$mypath = "S:\Temp\testremove\test"
$mypath = "S:\Sauvegarde\Catalogue_LR"
$FilesToKeep = 5 # Minimume number of files to keep
$jour = Get-Date
$lastmod = $jour.AddDays(-30) # Minimum aging days for the file to be removed


# Suppress all but the "$FilesToKeep" most recent files,
# providing the files are old enough.
$Count = 0
Get-Childitem $mypath -file -recurse | Sort-object LastWriteTime -Descending | Foreach {
    $Count = $Count +1
    IF ($Count -gt $FilesToKeep) {
        IF ($_.LastWriteTime -le "$lastmod") {
#            write-host "Deleting File" + $_.fullname -foregroundcolor "Red";
            Remove-Item $_.fullname | out-null
        }
    }
}
# Suppress the empty folders
$ListFolder = Get-Childitem $mypath -Directory -recurse | where { @(gci $_.Fullname).count -eq 0}
Foreach ($Folder in $ListFolder) {
        Remove-Item $Folder.Fullname -Recurse | out-null
}

# End of script
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
15,154
Location
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
I've written a small powershell script that automatically manage the LR backups.
It removes the backups older than "x" days, but always keeps the last "n" backups. These values "x" and "n" are defined in variables "LastMod" and "FilesToKeep" respectively and can be easily changed to meet your need.
On my PC, this script is started automatically every day.

Code:
#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
#                   Script Suppress LR Backup
# Version 1.2
# Last update : 30/01/2019
#
# Purpose
# =======
# This script will remove all but the n most recent LR catalog backup
# files, providing they are old enough.
# If a backup file has been created less than 30 days ago it won't be
# deleted anyway.
# The number of files to keep is defined in $FilesToKeep
# The oldest aging to keep is defined in $lastmod
#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

# Declaring variables

#$mypath = "S:\Temp\testremove\test"
$mypath = "S:\Sauvegarde\Catalogue_LR"
$FilesToKeep = 5 # Minimume number of files to keep
$jour = Get-Date
$lastmod = $jour.AddDays(-30) # Minimum aging days for the file to be removed


# Suppress all but the "$FilesToKeep" most recent files,
# providing the files are old enough.
$Count = 0
Get-Childitem $mypath -file -recurse | Sort-object LastWriteTime -Descending | Foreach {
    $Count = $Count +1
    IF ($Count -gt $FilesToKeep) {
        IF ($_.LastWriteTime -le "$lastmod") {
#            write-host "Deleting File" + $_.fullname -foregroundcolor "Red";
            Remove-Item $_.fullname | out-null
        }
    }
}
# Suppress the empty folders
$ListFolder = Get-Childitem $mypath -Directory -recurse | where { @(gci $_.Fullname).count -eq 0}
Foreach ($Folder in $ListFolder) {
        Remove-Item $Folder.Fullname -Recurse | out-null
}

# End of script
This is an excellent solution for a persistent problem for anyone using a PC. Something similar could be done using the Automator.app on the Mac.
However, in my experience, 30 days of backup catalogs is not sufficient. I have had to go back as far as 6 months to recover accidentally deleted keywords.
An ideal scenario might be something similar to what TimeMachine does for system backups: 1 every 30 minutes deleting all older than 24 hours except for one per day for 30 days, then keep one per month in perpetuity.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
271
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
This is an excellent solution for a persistent problem for anyone using a PC. Something similar could be done using the Automator.app on the Mac.
However, in my experience, 30 days of backup catalogs is not sufficient. I have had to go back as far as 6 months to recover accidentally deleted keywords.
An ideal scenario might be something similar to what TimeMachine does for system backups: 1 every 30 minutes deleting all older than 24 hours except for one per day for 30 days, then keep one per month in perpetuity.
This is what does my daily backup on my network, although I can only go 3 months back. It backups all my files on every machines, which includes the standard LR catalog. Therefore, my LR backups are not used to go back very far, usually no more than one day.
 

kautz

New Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
10
Location
Alabama
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
I am still confused by the terminology. In the attached screenshot, are each of the dated/numbered back-ups full backups or are they partials grouped under my most recently titled LR BU [month] Catalog Master? I have just re-started backups on a new HDD because of a crash so I don't have JUNE, MAY, etc. Master catalog BU's to illustrate and to View attachment 12975keep. Am I correct in thinking if each of these dated/numbered backups is a full backup, I can choose whatever dates I want to delete in order to save space (keeping in mind that I will want to space out my keepers in some methodical manner and eventually be back to, for example, one May, one June, one July, etc.) Thanks for any insight offered!
Screen Shot 2019-08-28 at 10.46.11 PM.png
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
456
Location
UK
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
They are full backups. However, I don't quite understand some of them. Ones that end .lrcat.zip are ones that LR has created in it's backup process. Ones not zipped where you have previews and other files, did you copy these manually? Few people would backup previews, they take silly amounts of space (as your screenshot shows) - better to keep a series of zipped catalog files than less with preview files.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
11,937
Location
West Sussex, UK
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
They are full backups. However, I don't quite understand some of them. Ones that end .lrcat.zip are ones that LR has created in it's backup process. Ones not zipped where you have previews and other files, did you copy these manually?
It's more likely that the zipped backup has been unzipped and opened into Lighroom, which immediately creates the Previews and Helper files. This happens a lot, it's not uncommon for a user to inadvertently be using a backup as the main catalog for an extended period, which often only comes to light when the user does a clean-up of older backups, which deletes that "current" catalog.
 
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