When you first launch Lightroom after a major update, such as the October 2023 update to 13.0, it asks your permission to upgrade your catalog – but why? Is it safe? What does it actually do?
Sometimes database changes need to be made in the catalog to enable new features or to improve performance. Lightroom asks permission to upgrade your catalog when you first launch it after the new release has been installed. As many of us have our CC App set to automatically upgrade when a new version is released, this may be a bit of a shock, especially as the dialog says it’s not compatible with previous versions. But it’s all okay!
Lightroom doesn’t actually change the catalog you’ve been using. It takes a copy of your current catalog and upgrades it. Previous to version 10, it added -2 to the new catalog name. Now it allows you to change the catalog name. If the old catalog was the previous version (v12) then this will be replaced with v12. If it was an older version, the name will default to the old catalog name with -v13 added. The objective is to make it easier to see which is the latest catalog. It then launches a new one. The upgrade uses the existing Preview files and Sync data file and renames them to match the upgraded catalog name. The old catalog is left untouched.
Although a warning is displayed The upgraded catalog will not be compatible with previous versions of Lightroom Classic, the earlier catalog is retained. So should anything go wrong during the upgrade, or you need to roll back to the previous version (currently 12.5), you can use the previous catalog. The old catalog won’t include any edits you make after the upgrade, making it harder to roll back, so we recommend you do some testing after the upgrade to make sure all looks good. Also, keep an eye on our release blogs as we update them with any major issues if they occur.
If you accidentally try to open the older catalog again (for example, you have it set as the default for Lightroom to open or you double-click on the old catalog), Lightroom asks you whether to open the upgraded catalog or upgrade again. Yes, use the newer, upgraded Catalog is almost always the right answer. If you tell Lightroom to upgrade the older catalog again, then the most recently upgraded catalog changes to catalogname-2 and additional Preview files will be created (also named -2, the -v12 files are untouched).
Originally posted 20 October 2020, updated for current Lightroom Classic version, October, 2023.
For extensive information on Lightroom Classic, see Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ.
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