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Lightroom Catalogs - What can I delete?

Heather P , Jun 21, 2010; 01:02 a.m.

Hello, I have Lightroom 2. I have a question about what catalog files I can delete.

I have download backups whose file names look like this "Imported on Tuesday, June 15, 2010" and backup file names that look like this "2010-06-20 2109" that I have set to be created each time I open LR.

I set up LR to automatically download both these backups to my internal hard drive and then I transfer them to a backed-up external drive. To save space on my internal hard drive, which of those LR backups do I absolutely need to keep and which can I toss?

I assume I would need the most recent of both. I have plenty of room on my external drives but I'm the kind of person that would rather delete if I don't need them. I hate clutter. The download back-ups are larger files and I would be happy to get rid of all that I don't need.

Also, My Lightroom 2 Catalog Previews.lrdata file is 3.53 GB. What does this file do for me? Do I need it? What about my Lightroom 2 Catalog.lrcat (111 MB)?

Thanks!

Responses

Marios Forsos , Jun 21, 2010; 05:09 a.m.

Unfortunately I cannot provide you with an answer to the first part of your question (basically since I couldn't understand exactly what you are doing - sorry...:-( ). But I can answer the "also" part:

The first file (Lightroom 2 Catalog Previews.lrdata) is the file containing the image previews generated by LR during import. Depending on your settings, these can be 1:1 previews or anything lower than that. If you delete that, next time you open LR, the following things will happen: (a) LR won't be able to automatically load the pre-created previews and will need to re-rended them again (thereby delaying your ability to work on your images) and (b) the program will automatically create it again (albeit, initially at a much smaller size which will, once again, start increasing as you edit or view more images)
The second file (Lightroom 2 Catalog.lrcat) is the MOST important file! This is your LR catalogue. This is where ALL your adjustments and modifications are stored, where all your keywords reside and so on and so forth. Deleting that is like trashing EVERYTHING you've done since you started using LR. So, don't....

As for file sizes, you'll have to learn to live with that. My catalogue is over 1GB now and my previews file...well, let's just say I cringe when I see the numbers...

I hope this helped...

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Jun 21, 2010; 07:05 a.m.

Surely there must be a way of controlling the LR2 previews file size? Whenever I run my antivirus or any sort of file/disk clean-up process it always takes ages to scan through the millions of sub-folders created in LR.

Juergen Sattleru , Jun 21, 2010; 08:26 a.m.

Heather - the "Imported on......." is your back-up file that you created when you imported your pics into LR. They do not contain any settings that you applied while importing (like keywords, development settings etc.) The preview file contains all processed previews of your pics and is essential to allow you to view your pics in LR.

Mark Sirota , Jun 21, 2010; 09:24 a.m.

The .lrcat and .lrdata files are critical to Lightroom. The .lrcat is your catalog; without it you are lost. The .lrdata is your previews; without it most functions (except Develop, Export) would be painfully slow.

You can keep your previews a little smaller by reducing their quality and discarding 1:1 previews after a while (In Catalog Settings, under the File Handling tab). The standard preview size should be at least as big as your largest monitor.

The other stuff are backups. As Juergen said, the "Imported on" stuff are copies of your image files made at Import time. They are just for backup purposes; if you have another backup mechanism, you may not need them. The "2010-06-20 2109" folders sound like catalog backups; you need only keep a few of them. They're for use if your main catalog file gets lost or corrupted.

Edward Ingold , Jun 21, 2010; 10:17 a.m.

I import images into specific directories with a sortable date code (YYMMDD) and brief topic (e.g., DM100619 Balloon Rally). Lightroom then creates a database of preview files with a reference to this directory. I can delete or move these directories at any time without affecting the LR database, which remains as a valuable tool for identifying and locating the original file.

Normally, I backup/archive images on DVDs, which I label and file according to the same date code as the directory. This makes them easy to locate and restore, especially if they remain in my LR database. The same strategy works if the files are moved to external drives for archiving. In that case, I assign a unique name to the drive and maintain a list of directories by drive name.

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