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There's one more thing to think about before importing photos into Lightroom. And that's where you're going to keep your Lightroom catalog and the photos and videos that you're going to bring into your Lightroom catalog. Let's take a look at your options for where to store and backup both your catalog and your photos. As we've seen a Lightroom catalog is a database of information about your photos. It's not a container for your photos. So, there are two separate kinds of items to store. The database files that make up the catalog itself, which are represented by these icons on the computer screen in this diagram. And the photos that the catalog is keeping track of, which I suggested that you gather into one parent folder.
And that's represented by this Lightroom photos folder over here in this diagram. You have the option to store the catalog and the photos on the same drive or on different drives. So, one option is to keep the catalog and photos both on your computer. This may seem logical, but I actually don't think it's the best option, that's because the space on your computer's main drive is probably limited. If you shoot a lot of photos, particularly large, raw photos, or if you shoot video, or if you just shoot a lot.
Then, your photos and videos and videos will fill up your computer drive faster than you might think. And at that point, you'll have to move the photos to a larger drive anyway. So, why not save yourself the trouble and start with a larger drive for your photos and videos from the get-go. The setup that I prefer in my office is to leave the catalog files on the computer, and put my photos on a large, fast, external drive. Represented in this diagram by this drive, which I call the Working Drive. This is where you'll leave the photos as you work on them in Lightroom.
This setup gives me plenty of room to grow my collection of photos and videos on the working drive. And, my catalog hums right along on the computer. If you plan to follow this suggestion, then start off by putting the parent folder of existing photos and videos on your external working drive initially. Then, import those photos and videos from that working drive into the Lightroom catalog on your computer. And when you shoot more photos, you'll import those from your camera's memory card on to the external working drive, and into your Lightroom catalog at the same time.
All, as I'll show you how to do shortly, a bonus of this set up is that if your main computer is a laptop that you take with you when you travel or work outside the office. This arrangement sets you up for using Smart Previews, a Lightroom 5 feature that allows you to edit lightweight proxies of your photos on the road, which I'll show you how to use later. It's also a good idea to do some advanced planning about where you're going to back up both your photos and your catalog files. By default, every time that you quit Lightroom, you'll see a message giving you the option to backup your catalog. That's important to do, because a database can get corrupted. And your catalog is the database.
Backing up the catalog assures that you'll have a backup of the editing and metadata changes that you've made, which are stored as instructions in the catalog. But remember that backing up the catalog does not backup your photos. That you'll have to do separately. Ideally, to back up your photos, you have a couple of other external drives that are each as large as your working drive. Those are represented here by this back up drive and this drive which I've labeled Archive. The Archive drive is for keeping a pristine copy of your original photos. As we'll see when we talk about importing, Lightroom's import dialog box has a check box for making a duplicate of your photos and videos. To any drive that you specify at the same time that Lightroom is importing your photos and videos.
And that's what I use the archive drive for. I don't normally touch its contents, it's just an insurance policy, the equivalent of strong film negatives safely. In addition, I regularly run third-party backup software to back up my working drive to a third external hard drive, the one that I've labeled Backup. This ensures that I always have a relatively current copy of my working photos, which is important because external hard drives do fail. So, I think you'll find that it pays off, to have given thought to the best storage an backup options for you.
And I recommend you do that before you start importing photos into Lightroom which is what we'll cover next.
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