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Worth Not Backing Up Previews?

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Senior Member
Premium Classic Member
Mar 29, 2015
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version
LrC 11
Operating System
  1. Windows 10
I have a nightly backup to an external disk. I specifically exclude all '*.lrprev' files thinking this will reduce the backup size for files LrC can recreate.

I just reviewed https://www.lightroomqueen.com/backup-lightroom-files/ and now wonder if I should be excluding the directory 'Preview.lrdata' instead.

Is it ok if I just exclude the files and not the directory? I ask because this logic is scattered through a number of backup procedures.

The Preview.lrdata folder will automatically be create if on startup, Lightroom finds the folder missing. As it can get quite large, the recommendation is to not include this folder or the Smart Preview folder in your system backup to keep the system backup size small.

If you select an image in Lightroom Classic, and it is missing, LrC will build a new on on the fly. There is also a menu item to Build Standard Previews and also Build 1:1 Previews on selected files.
skipping the previews folder is the same as skipping all the .lrprev files contained therein. However, depending on the tools you're using for backup, telling it to skip the folder may be way faster than requiring it to drill down to each and every file to see if it is a .lrprev file.

The only catalog related items you "need" to backup or the ".lrcat" file and the ".lrcat-data" folder. All others are optional but if present may imporve performance as LR will not have to rebuild them.
One warning against not backing up smart previews: If you travel with a laptop and take a catalog and smart previews with you, then do backup the smart previews too! If you don't back these up and they get corrupted, then you no longer have the possibility to edit your images until you get back home and have the originals available again. Lightroom can't rebuild smart previews if it does not have access to the originals.
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