Backing up Lightroom Presets
When people talk about backing up Lightroom they immediately think about the Lightroom Catalogue. This is understandable given the catalogue is home to a lot of the work you do with your images. Lightroom even has an automated backup facility for the catalogue which can be set to create a backup on certain events or at specified time intervals. But there is another set of backups that you need to give some thought to as you have possibly invested time and money in their creation. I am referring here to Lightroom assets such as Presets and Templates. If you lost these you might have a job on your hands to recreate them.
Backing up Lightroom Presets and similar files is an essential task many lightroom users overlook. Don't be caught out. It's easy to do as this article expalins.
Since first publishing this article, Adobe has changed the location and format of the Lightroom Preset. This change was in version 7.3 of Lightroom. If you are using an older version than this then the information in this article continues to apply. If though you’re using Lightroom 7.3 or later, you should also read my tutorial documenting how to install Lightroom Presets. It explains the new location for the Presets to use for the backup. Importantly it also explains how to install new Presets which is the process you will need to use if you want to recover Presets from your backup.
Locating your Lightroom Presets
As you go about processing your images in Lightroom you can end up creating all sorts of valuable assets that you re-use on a regular basis but which you don’t give much thought to. This might include presets that you save, print templates, book templates, keyword sets. In fact the list of what you create and then potentially reuse is quite lengthy. As much of this is created automatically and is stored outside the Lightroom Catalogue, chances are that you might miss backing them up.
The first step in creating a backup is to locate the assets on your computer. This is quite simple, you need only select the “Preferences…” option from Lightroom’s Edit menu. You can see an example below.
Selecting “Preferences…” displays the “Preferences” dialog box where you can control the way you work with Lightroom. Here you will find a number of tabs which have been used to segment the different types of preference including one for “Presets”. You can see an example of the Preferences tab below.
Notice that to the centre of this dialog is a section called “Location” which determines where the preferences are stored. One of the options is to “Store presets with this catalog”. At first this may seem like a good idea but if you find yourself needing to work with multiple Lightroom catalogues you will also find your presets aren’t available when you switch catalogues.
The better (and default option) is to store the presets on the computer hard drive in a set location. The “Show Lightroom Presets Folder…” button allows you to see this location. When you click it your file explorer will open at the required location similar to the screenshot shown below.
Notice that you don’t actually see the Presets folder but one called “Lightroom” instead. Open this folder and you will find an array of folders which contain not just the development presets but all the other assets we have been discussing. You can see an example below.
It is therefore this (“Lightroom”) folder and all sub-folder that you need to backup.
Backup and Restore Options
How you chose to backup this location is a matter of personal choice. You might simply create a copy of the folder and its content in a new location; I would suggest on a separate hard drive or even better a cloud drive such as Adobe Cloud or Amazon Cloud. You could then replace this from time to time with a revised copy.
An improvement on this approach is to create dated copies of the folder at regular intervals. This was you can return back to previous generations of the assets which minimises the risk of losing something. The problem with this is in remembering to make the copy and the temptation is always to put off the task until a later date.
A further improvement is to use backup software. This may involve a cost but has the advantage that the backup schedule can be automated. This allows you to set up the backup schedule and then forget about it.
If you are a Windows user and want a simple copy solution (with a few bells and whistles) take a look at Microsoft Synch Toy. I have found this quite a useful tool for duplicating content to a new location.
When it comes to restoring your assets (hopefully you won’t need to do this) you can rely on your backup tool to restore the required files to their location. If you have been copying your files manually or using Synch Toy, you simply need to copy the required files back to their location in the Lightroom file structure. When you restart Lightroom you will find the assets are available.