Backing up external hard drives for Lightroom files ... Newbie....

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Bernard Smith

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Brand New to iMac... just swapped over from Windows .... so be gentle on me

I have 2 external hard drives on iMac. One (A) is the main location for photo files and xmp files that are used in Lightroom. The second(B) is a copy of the main external drive. There are over 1TB of images..

The Lightroom catalog is kept on the Mac internal drive with the photo files kept outside on the main external drive (A). The files are brought in and edited in Lightroom and when the files have been edited they are only kept outside on the external drive (A).

I wish to keep an exact copy of the main external drive on the second drive (B) for safety and peace of mind and have already made a copy of everything to the second drive by copying the entire drive folder by folder to set it up initially.

How do I go about copying just the changes made and leave any unaltered files as they were. I guess its called incremental editing but I don't know how to perform this other than deleting the original folder on the second drive and then copying the amended "master' folder from the first drive... seems long winded procedure to me.

Is there any software that can do this ?

I have not set time machine up yet as I will probably attach a seperate smaller drive for this to keep just the OSbacked up separate from my photo files which will be too large to store internally due to the size of the files (over 1 TB) and growing.

Any ideas and suggestions will be gratefully received.




macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
Hi Bernard,

I'm not a backup expert but here is my 2 cents...

The software solution I use to make exact clones of both the internal SSD as well as external drives is called Carbon Copy Cloner. It can be used to manually make clones, or to program to perform automatic clones on a set schedule where you choose the frequency. It is capable of making a traditional clone, where the destination drive matches the source exactly, or a clone with archives, where changes on the destination drive are archived and only deleted once the drive is filled. I use it solely for the traditional clone. When CCC makes a backup from a source to a destination, after the first backup it only updates files that have been changed - so the time to make these backups is usually much shorter. I am finding it also plays well with RAID volumes (something I've been experimenting with) and it even works well with FileVault2 enabled on the destination (however, there is a specific procedure to go through if you want a FV2 source to be bootable.) They are already fielding APFS support so I have no doubt that they will ensure their product continues to work well even with the pending filesystem shift. IIRC there is a free trial, and while it is a paid program, it's a reasonable price. If you are coming from Windows, to me CCC is much like BVCKUP in that it is a no-nonsense program that makes very robust backups.

Time Machine is definitely worth doing as well in my opinion. Time Machine makes incremental point-in-time backups, so it provides protection against file corruption that carbon clones do not always provide. For example, if your library were to become corrupted and your most recent carbon clone also contained a corrupted library, with Time Machine you would have multiple versions of that library and you would be able to go back to a point in time prior to the corruption and restore the last functioning library.

I use Time Machine AND Carbon Copy Cloner to make two types of backups of my local disk onto multiple separate physical drives. The Time Machine provides the incremental protection against software corruption (and accidental deletion/unintentional modification), where as the CCC backup allows me to make a bootable clone of the local disk in the event that the local drive were to fail. This way, I have physical failure and corruption covered for a more holistic backup solution than either one can achieve on their own.

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macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2014
Time Machine is probably a more painless solution for your (relatively) simple setup.

By default TM excludes all external volumes, but you can check drives off in the TM PrefPane options. The next time TM backs up it will then include your photos on the external drive. The only realistic issue is your destination backup drive needs to have sufficient space left for future backups, and obviously you would want it to backup your boot volume as well.

For example:
OS volume: 500GB
primary photos volume: 1TB
then your TM backup volume needs 1.5TB initially, ideally 2TB if not more for future backup incremental additions.

The drawback of relying on TM is that it does not create a clone-able backup, and it is not an archival solution meaning if you screws up your primary data such as deleting an important file accidentally, it overwrites that state to TM backup over time. Another limit which is already implied, is that it pretty much requires a single, large drive to fit everything. But it has been a relatively reliable solution with little to no babysitting required.


macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
Try CarbonCopyCloner.
CCC is FREE to download, and it's FREE to use for the first 30 days.

It can create a FULLY BOOTABLE clone of your internal drive -- an exact copy that you can boot and run as if it were "the original".

Of course, CCC can also be used to clone the primary EXTERNAL drive to a "secondary" external drive (a backup) as well.

CCC can be setup so that the clone is an "exact copy" of the original (that means that whatever you delete from the source will also be deleted on the backup, it will always be exactly as the source was at the time of the last backup) -- or, it can ALSO be set so that older files (files which you may have deleted from your source) are preserved.
Your choice.

CCC will even clone over the recovery partition on your boot volume.
Although, NOTHING beats a "clone of the internal drive" in a "moment of extreme need"...


macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2009
I agree with the Carbon Copy Cloner recommendation, been using it since 2007 with great results
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