Last night I received a sad email. It was from a young woman whose external backup hard drive had died some time ago, and she hadn’t yet found time to replace it. Unfortunately now her main working drive, which held her only remaining copy of her images, has also died and is not recoverable.
She emailed me because she had been religiously hitting the backup button every time Lightroom asked her to do so, and she now wanted to know how to restore her images from that backup.
The problem? Unfortunately she had never actually read the dialog that she had been saying ok to for all this time. The dialog that clearly states that Lightroom’s built in backup only backs up the catalog containing the metadata, and not the images themselves. That’s not good! And by default, the catalog backups are stored with the working catalog, so they were stored on that dead hard drive. I wish I could tell you it had a happy ending, but so far, it’s not looking promising.
It’s a tale I hear far too often, so allow me to say this loud and clear once again… LIGHTROOM’S CATALOG BACKUP DOESN’T BACK UP YOUR IMAGES. (It’s also not going to do you much good if it’s stored on the dead hard drive, although that’s a minor issue if you’ve just lost all of your photos.)
Dead hard drives can happen to anyone, and at any time. Are you sure you could restore from your backups?
In my next post, we’ll consider backups in more detail, but if you’re keen to get a solid backup system in place in the meantime, feel free to download this excerpt from Adobe Lightroom 3 – The Missing FAQ, which gives a quick checklist of things you need to ensure you’ve included in your backups (PDF download). Feel free to drop by www.lightroomforums.net to talk about your backup strategy too – someone may spot a hole that you’ve missed!