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When you first open up Lightroom you have to create the initial catalog, but after that it's easy to forget about catalogs, and because of that, here what I want to do is talk a little bit about working with catalogs. Well as I've mentioned previously catalogs are really important and to illustrate that I want to jump back to a couple of slides that we've seen in order to just to reiterate this concept. What I was trying to illustrate here was that typically our files can be a little bit of a mess but Lightroom comes along and the catalog organizes everything. Now this catalog contains all sorts of valuable information, Develop Module Settings in other words all of the hours and hours that we have labored on our photographs, all of that passion we have invested into the art and craft of making our images really good, well that would be lost.
If we lose this catalog, we lose all of that in ratings, keywords and collections and so much. So therefore that catalog is really important, and I want to talk a touch about how we can back up this catalog and also optimize it. So in order to do that, let's jump back to Lightroom. Inside of Lightroom, one of the things that you can do is navigate to the Lightroom pull-down menu and choose Catalog Settings. Now here in the General tab you can choose how often you want to backup your catalog, and by default this is once a week, when exiting Lightroom.
Now the problem with this default selection or default option is that it isn't very good because most of us we don't turn off our computers very often and we don't quit applications very often and because of that I don't think this is frequent enough. Remember if you lose that catalog, gosh, you are going to lose just a ton of valuable information. So what I recommend you do is you change this to when Lightroom next exits or every time a Lightroom exits. In other words, every time you exit Lightroom it will create a backup for you, and this is definitely a good idea.
All right, well let's exit this whole concept of backup for a second and jump to another concept which is actually related. There's another thing you can do with your catalog which is Optimize it. If you navigate to your File pull-down menu and then select Optimize Catalog, what this allows you to do is to optimize this. In other words let's go back to that warehouse analogy. If all of the bikes in the warehouse have been moved around and shuffled and they are a little bit kind of messy or messed up you can straighten and organize and clean everything up by optimizing, and so it's always a good idea to do that.
What this will do is it will then just get everything back in order to make sure the communication between the catalog and the actual files is accurate, is perfect. So a lot of times you want to do that. The trick is, it's really easy to forget to optimize your catalog and there aren't really clear instructions on how often to do that. So here's what you can do. As you remember that I set up that preference to backup the catalog every time I quit Lightroom and that's what I recommend. Well you can also optimize when you create that backup as well.
Let's go through that process. So here what we are going to do is, navigate to the Lightroom pull-down menu and choose Quit Lightroom. This will tell us that we've dialed in these settings or chosen these settings to backup this catalog every time you quit or close. Great, here is where it's going to save the backup files, we will talk more about that in a second and let's jump down to these other two options. Also test the integrity, definitely and optimize that catalog. So be sure to have those two options turned on. Now back to this backup folder.
What it's going to do is it's going to create a backup of these images in a subfolder where your catalog is saved. In this case it's saved on the internal hard drive of this computer and that's a really good spot for it. But it's saving the backup on the same hard drive that the main catalog is saved on. In other words, if that hard drive dies, I lose both. The backup really isn't any good to me. So what you're going to want to do is to choose an alternate location for this. Ideally, another hard drive, have this in a different spot.
You don't want to put all of your eggs in one basket because that basket could break down and you could have a big problem. So again you want to choose a different location and that will help you have a more stable and reliable backup. All right, well in this case, I'm using a demo computer; I don't have an external drive connected. So I am going to leave it here because I want to look at this backup file and recommend something else that I think you should do to make your backup even better. So let's go ahead and click backup and what will happen is it will go through this process. Now I want to go ahead and navigate to that location where these files are saved.
And I also want to make a little bit of a comment about that backup. Keep in mind that that backup is going to take some time, so you want to do that at the end of the day right? Right before you leave, you don't want to do that in the morning or right before you want to work on some images. So just make sure you do that in a time when you don't really need to work with Lightroom. All right, well here I am inside of my Lightroom 4 folder in the Pictures area on the hard drive and here's this Backups file that it's created. It gives me the date when it was created which is nice in this little Lightroom catalog.
What's interesting is it's saving the catalog but not the previews. Now I wouldn't want to lose these previews and have to re-render them if something happened so here is what I recommend. Select the Previews file and then go to your Menu. In this case I will go to Edit and I will dopy that, next I am going to go inside of this Backups folder and just make sure I am inside of that and then go to Edit and paste that item. So now I have that inside of that same location, and here what I will do is just navigate backwards for a minute, so we can see where we were.
You can see basically that what I did is I copied both the catalog and the previews into this spot. Now this extra little step isn't needed because if you lose the previews it's not the end of the world and you can re-render or re-create those in Lightroom. That being said in my own Lightroom catalog, I have thousands and thousands of images, and in my case I really want to save all of that information previews and all the rest of it as well. So that's what I do in my own workflow just to make sure I've backed up everything.
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