How I backup and sync Lightroom catalogs / by Neil Alexander

The topic of today's post is a follow up to last week's ditty on backing up images. 

The background; I hate keywording, and I'm lazy. I'd much rather sit in front of the TV with my Macbook Air on my lap and keyword watching some Sky Atlantic dross than be chained to my desk late into the evening pouring over images. So after some painful trial and error I managed to put together another pivotal stage in my workflow which I couldn't have done in the days before "The Cloud".

I want to have my two primary catalogs - client work & personal work (along with a host of archived catalogs) available on my iMac and I also want the two primaries synchronised and available on my Macbook Air for when I'm travelling or keywording in front of the TV in my pyjamas. Thanks to the marvel that is Dropbox , I can pick which catalogs I want on my Air and keep them in sync with my workhorse iMac. Once I've been through and bashed out some more keywords  (Cradoc's fotoKeyword Harvester is invaluable for this), I simply close down Lightroom and within minutes it has synced back up to my Dropbox account and replicated back to my iMac. If I've performed a substantial import into Lightroom on my iMac, then the sync can take anything up to an hour but it all takes place so seamlessly that once I've had my dinner, or put the kids to bed then my Macbook is bang up to date and ready for keywording, tagging etc. 

In the event that it doesn't sync properly or a conflict occurs, then the Dropbox service will creative a duplicate .lrcat file and append the name of which ever machine the conflicted copy appears on. It's then a simple case of deciding which version I want to keep - but this happens very rarely and when it does, it's usually down to "user error".

Never one to entirely trust my data to someone else, my Dropbox data is all synchronised once a week using Chronosync to my Drobo, which in turn is piped back up to Backblaze, so once again I have everything in triplicate. I even have Lightroom set to backup and optimise my catalogs once a week, and these are also Dropboxed.

It's not the cheapest service in the world (I have 200GB for $199pa and store all manner of documents and artwork in there) but it works all the time, every time. Far more convenient than having to cart around an external hard drive which can be a right faff when using a laptop on your lap. 

Using Dropbox, it also means that all the important business materials; accounts, invoices etc are also available on my iPad or iPhone when I'm out 'n' about.  

If you've never used the service, then use any of the links above and take it for a whirl. You might be pleasantly surprised.

And the images up top? They were shot on a recent trip to Malta - see more of them here.