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A good backup process is critically important to any photographer's digital workflow. As you're probably already aware, Lightroom includes the ability to backup the catalog that contains so much information about your photos. But backing up the catalog does not actually backup the photos themselves. As a result, you'll want to make sure that you're using another method, such as an overall computer backup system, in order to backup your important digital photos. However, if you'd like, you can also create an additional backup that includes both the catalog and the photos that are contained therein, so that you have a complete backup that contains everything found in Lightroom.
To do so, you can simply export all of the images in your catalog as a separate catalog. I'll start off in the Library module by choosing the All Photographs option under the Catalog section of the left panel, and then I'll choose File > Export as catalog from the menu. I can navigate to the location where I'd like to save my backup. I'll just go to the desktop in this case and I'll just call the file name backup. At the bottom of the dialog, you'll see that we have an option to export only selected photos. In generally speaking, you want that option turned off so that all photos are being exported. Right now for example, I only have one image selected but there are 310 images in my catalog.
So with this check box turned on, I would only be backing up a single image. With it turned off I'm backing up all 310 photos that are currently in this catalog. I'll leave the options turned on to export negative files, and also to include available previews. So that if I ever need to restore from this backup, in other words to open this catalog as if it were my master catalog, the previews will already be built for me which will save me some time down the road. Obviously that does require a little bit of additional hard drive space. In the meantime, I'll go ahead then and click the Save option.
And now all of my photos will be backed up in this case on to the desktop. Obviously in most cases, you would probably use an External Hard Drive for this purpose, and of course, an external hard drive that has adequate free space to store all of your photographic images. But exporting your images as a catalog in this fashion can be a very convenient option. Because now, if I need to restore from that catalog all I need to do is open the catalog from its current location and I have immediate access to all of my images. And that includes all of the information about those images that was contained within the Lightroom catalog, such as star ratings, color labels, pic flags, key words, you name it, all of that information will be accessible.
Now of course there is a good chance that you already have a good back up process in place and that's wonderful, but if not or if you just want an extra layer of security, exporting your entire collection of images from a Lightroom catalog to a new and separate catalog in a different storage location provides you with a great and easy backup solution.
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