Backup iPhoto Library

Backup iPhoto Library

I normally keep my photos on a separate Drobo so that it can withstand two hardware failures. I also back this up online with Crashplan so I have an offsite backup. Finally, I periodically take an image and put it on an old Time Capsule as well. So theoretically, I have three backups of the photos. But. these are just for the photos themselves that I put in a separate file system.
Lately I've been using iPhoto to organize the photos because it has Faces and Places and Events. But everytime my machine hiccups, I lose all the metadata. So here is what I've been doing:
1. For photos I've scanned, I've been going through them file at a time and adjusting the Date and Time from iPhoto for the original files. It is nice if you can keep all the metadata like date and time in the EXIF information embedded in the JPEG files themselves 🙂
2. I've been adding places and faces, but these keep getting deleted. It turns out Basics4Mac points out that this information is actually kept in a single magic directory and you can copy them to backups and with iPhoto 11 and 09, if you have multiple of them in your home Pictures directory, you can select. So taking a periodic backup of Iphoto Library file is pretty important. See below for how to do that :_)
From Basics4Mac
Here are the steps to make the copy of your iPhoto library. It would be helpful if you print these instructions out since they are longer and a little more involved than normal tips on Basics4Mac.

  1. Quit iPhoto if it is running.
  2. Make sure your external drive is connected and turned on. In the Finder, the external drive will show as an orange drive icon in the left pane.
  3. Open two Finder windows and position them one on top of the other as shown in the image on the right. (click the image to see it larger.)
  4. In the top Finder window, start at your Home folder (the one with the icon of the house and your user name by it) and select the Pictures folder. Inside the Pictures folder you should see a folder called iPhoto Library.
  5. In the bottom Finder window, select your external drive. That is where we are copying the iPhoto Library to.
  6. Select the iPhoto Library folder from the top Finder window. Drag it to the bottom Finder window. This will start a copy process. How long the copy takes depends on how large your iPhoto library is, but it should take at least several minutes.

Now we need to tell iPhoto that you have moved the iPhoto library and where to look for it.

Tell iPhoto '11 and '09 to choose the Library
Click to see a larger image

[iPhoto '11 and '09]

  1. If iPhoto is open, quit it.
  2. Go to the Pictures folder of your Home folder.
  3. Rename "iPhoto Library" to "iPhoto Library.old". (To rename a file, click the file name once. Pause a second, then click the file name again. The file name will be highlighted in light blue and you can type to rename the file.)
  4. Open iPhoto. You will see a dialog box like the one on the right. If you don't see the dialog box, click the iPhoto icon on your Dock. This dialog box likes to hide behind other windows for some reason.
  5. There will be two items listed in the scroll box, one called "iPhoto Library" and one called "iPhoto Library.old". Select "iPhoto Library". (This is the one that you moved to the external hard drive.)
  6. Click the Choose button.
  7. iPhoto will open and you should see your photos.


Tell iPhoto '06 & '08 to look for the Library
Click to see a larger image
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