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PSA: Deleting Old Lightroom Data Can Clear Up a TON of Space


Photos take up a lot of storage space. That’s just something that us photographers have to deal with. That said, there’s no reason to waste space on our computers. So here’s a tip: deleting old, unneeded Lightroom data can clear up a ton of space.

Many laptops, like mine, come with relatively small SSD, where every gigabyte counts. I was recently cleaning out the storage on my computer, and realized that Lightroom’s files were taking up a pretty large chunk of space — about 20GB. After digging around a bit, I found that old previews and backups were responsible for a large chunk of that space, and could be safely deleted. (Of course, there’s always a chance that deleting files has the potential to mess things up, but risk seems awfully low here.)

First, you need to locate where your Lightroom folder is. Open the Catalog Settings, found within the Edit menu.

Once you’re there, click on the General tab, then find the entry for Location. This should show a file path, with a button labeled Show on the right.

Clicking this brings up a system file window, with your catalog folder selected. Open the folder.

Within the Lightroom catalog folder, you should see a folder named “Backups”. If your situation is anything like mine was, it’ll have backups all of the way back to when you first installed Lightroom. Delete the ones which you don’t need anymore. I’d suggest keeping the latest few, but anything older isn’t doing anything but taking up space. That along cleared a significant amount of space for me.

Once you’re done there, return to the main catalog folder. Next to the backup folder should be a file ending with “Catalog Previews.lrdata”. I use Lightroom 4, but other versions shouldn’t differ. This file contains your previews for imported photos. If you delete it, you’ll lose the previews. That’s not as bad as it sounds, because Lightroom will generate previews for photos without them. This will slightly slow down the program. I chose to delete the file, since I knew that it contained previews for many photos which I were done working with.

In the end, I freed up a good 16GB of space — 7GB of backups and 9GB of previews. I’m not a particularly heavy user of Lightroom, so other photographers ought to save even more. Hopefully this is a helpful tip!

About the author: Evan Pak is a photographer and college student. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.