The Quick Way to Reclaim Disk Space and Backup Your Lightroom Configuration

Update: A newer version of this plugin is now available. 
Please visit the
LR Backup plugin page (formerly Config Backup) to download the latest version, and find the latest documentation for the plugin.


It is vital that every Adobe Photoshop Lightroom user backup their catalog and configuration files.  If you don’t and your catalog gets corrupted, the results of all the time and effort you invested retouching your photos disappears.  While you can use the “Automatically write changes into XMP” setting to work around the catalog corruption issue you will suffer a performance penalty for enabling it.  Most find its easier to use Lightroom’s built in capability to regularly backup your catalog.

One obvious downside of backing up is the increased consumption of disk.  For example my backups for a ~10000 photo catalog are around 220Mb each.  Multiply that by 52 backups a year and 11Gb of my laptop’s limited disk capacity is spent on something I’ll hopefully never need to use.  Compressing each backup is an effective way to combat this, and in my experience catalogs zip to approximately 10% of their original size, but it is yet another task you need to undertake to keep disk space under control.


I’ve developed a backup plugin to help speed up and simplify backing up and compressing Lightroom files.  It adds two new menu items to the File menu’s Plug-in Extras sub-menu.

  1. Customisable Configuration Backups – Allows you to customise and manually trigger the backup and compression processes
  2. 1-Click Configuration Backup – Immediately backs up the Lightroom Preferences File and Catalog backups using your previously configured settings, and optionally displays the results of the backup process.


The Customisable Configuration Backups menu item calls up the dialog shown to the left.  It allows you to specify where preference file backups should be stored, displays summary details of backups currently found at that location, and to request a new backup be created.

The catalog compression section assumes you are using Lightroom’s inbuilt capability to create catalog backups.  You supply the details of where Lightroom stores those backups, choose a location for the compressed version of those backups, and then request the backups be compressed.  All backups will be compressed into separate zip files named after the catalog and date/time of the backup.  You can also choose to move, rather than copy, the backups into the zip files once you are comfortable everything is working properly.

The 1-Click Configuration Backup menu item automatically backs up the preferences file and compresses all catalog backups using the preferences last used in the Customisable Configuration Backups dialog.  It optionally displays the results using a cutdown version of the main dialog.  If you wish to enable or disable the displaying of the results dialog use the “Show Results After 1-Click Backup” option at the bottom of either the Customisable or 1-Click dialogs.

I hope you find this plugin useful and please feel free to share your experiences or suggestions in the comments section below.   A big thank you goes out to Sean over at the Lightroom Blog for testing the plugin to ensure it was Mac compatible.

Posted on May 29, 2009 at 12:26 am by Matt · Permalink
In: Howto, Project, Software · Tagged with: , , , , ,