Backing Up the Library
An option in Lightroom’s General preferences allows you to create an automatic scheduled backup of the master Lightroom library file at a frequency of your choosing. I strongly advise selecting one of these options, in order to gain an extra level of built-in backup security that may well prevent you from losing valuable library data information.
When you select a scheduled library backup option, the dialog box in Figure 1 appears each time a scheduled backup is due. You can specify a location where the backup library file should be stored, as well as run a test to see whether the database is corrupted. If the file is corrupted, Lightroom offers the opportunity to replace the current (corrupted) database with the previously backed-up database copy file.
Figure 1 Lightroom asks you to confirm that you want to back up the library.
A mirrored RAID system is essential in a mission-critical environment to ensure continuity of data access. But this doesn’t amount to the same thing as having a fail-safe backup strategy. For that, you need to perform scheduled backups to a secondary set of drives, which should be stored in a safe location such as a fireproof safe or somewhere offsite. In a simple office setup, you could use one external drive to hold the main Lightroom image library, and a duplicate drive of similar capacity to keep a regularly backed-up copy of the data. The important feature of this kind of setup is that backups can be scheduled manually. If a problem were to occur on the master disk, such as an accidental file deletion or a directory corruption, you would have the opportunity to rectify the problem by copying data from the backup drive. If you keep the data on a separate drive, it can be stored in a separate location away from the main computer.
Running scheduled drive backups reduces your chances of losing data. However, as long as files are stored on read/write disk media, they’ll always be vulnerable to accidental erasure or a virus attack that could infiltrate from the masters to the backup drives. To reduce the risk further, make DVD copies of your files and keep those DVDs in an appropriate storage location. Of course, reloading all the data from DVDs would be a pain, but writing data to DVD ensures that the data stays free from virus attack or human error. A DVD is the most economical removable media storage offered at present. But keep an eye out for newer media systems, such as Blu-ray, that are bound to become more affordable and practical for storing larger amounts of data on single disks.
You can use various programs to carry out data backups. On the Macintosh platform, I like ChronoSync from Econ Technologies because it’s simple to use and very effective at synchronizing all the files on a backup disk with the master disk (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 The ChronoSync backup program interface.
I usually set up backup settings for my main work data drives such as the primary hard disk, plus the two other main drives that are used to store most of my raw file data and working files. Whenever I want to back up any data, I switch on a backup drive and run the backup process. I have the settings configured so that ChronoSync first compares all the data on the left target disk (the drive I want to back up) with the right target disk (the drive on which I want to store the backup data) and then copies all the newly added files.
I also have the Sync. Deletions option checked, so that file deletions on the master disk are applied to the data on the backup disk. At the end of a synchronization, I empty the Trash (or Recycle Bin in a PC backup program), and the backup is complete. Setting up backup drives and copying all the data takes a long time the first time around. But thereafter, if you carry out regular backups such as once a day or every few days, the backup procedure should take only a few minutes. If you’re in the habit of leaving your drives switched on overnight, you can schedule the backups to run in the early hours of the morning.