I have spoken about ideas for easier backup in the past, but I’m just going to give some detail on the automatic backup feature within Lightroom. To set up Backup in Lightroom, we need to open the Catalog Settings. This is located in the File Menu and can be accessed by using the shortcut Command-Option-, (Ctrl-Alt-, On PC).
Once this has opened, go to the Backup section of the General Tab. Clicking on the drop down menu reveals the frequency of which you can backup: Never, Monthly, Weekly, Daily, every restart or just the next restart.
For this part of our example I selected ‘Next time Lightroom starts only’. The Dialog in Fig. 4 appears when I restart Lightroom. A little trick to make the restart easier is to go to File>Open Recent and then click on the name of the CURRENT catalog. This will restart Lightroom with the same catalog we’re working on.
Looking at Fig 4., we can see 3 buttons and a check box. We can either Skip Now or Backup. We can also check the box to test catalog integrity before backup, which is wise, as a broken backup file is useless. The last button is the Choose button (See Fig 5). This allows us to select the location to which the backup Catalog is written. I recommend an external drive at minimum. If you do select an external drive and it is unavailable at backup time, Lightroom will write to the default Backups folder inside the folder where the Catalog resides.
If you choose a repeated option, then a fourth button appears, allowing you to skip this backup, but allow further backups to continue as normal. See the images below for a screen capture of the other available options in Backup.
When you’ve allowed a few backups to happen, you’ll start to notice something about catalog files, especially if you have a large photo library. They can get quite big. My main Catalog file is 1.1 Gb for 70,000 photos. When you’ve a few backups done, I recommend you delete older ones that are no longer necessary. Also you can use either the system archiver on Mac, or Winzip on PC to compress the file down in size. The file is full of text and compresses down significantly. For example my 1.1Gb file compresses to 140Mb. Quite a difference!
Personally I have the automatic backup set to Weekly, but I do backups after major imports/edit sessions, just to be safe.