Best way to archive my RAW camera-scans with NLP edits?

Currently my Lightroom catalog includes two folders for every roll of film which I have digitized.

  1. One folder has the RAW versions of camera-scans of my negatives. Those RAWs have been edited including NLP conversions, titles, captions, keywords, and custom NLP metadata about the film camera settings and developing details.

  2. The second folder consists of positive JPEGs created from the first folder, with the NLP custom metadata, and with some additional editing done in Lightroom.

I would like to remove the first set of folders from Lightroom to conserve space on my computer’s hard drive, but I want to archive the RAW files to external storage in case I decide to re-edit them later. If I save the RAW files, only, then I will loose the considerable amount of labor I spent on the edits and metadata.

So, is there any way to save my edits/metadata along with the RAW files so they can be reimported back into Lightroom, if needed?

Edits (and everything else) are stored in Lightroom’s catalog only. Archiving the RAW files including edits therefore needs to contain the RAW files AND a copy or extract of the catalog.

Try “export this folder as a catalog” from the library view of folders and see if it does what you need.

  • In my short test, the folder was exported to the Desktop as can be seen below.
  • The originating catalog and the photo archive are not stored in the same place and the complete path to the images was added.
  • Clicking on the catalog marked by the green arrow opened Lr and that one folder’s images came up, including the virtual copies I applied NLP to.
  • I don’t save .xmp files, which does not hurt at all here. They don’t contain NLP settings anyways.
  • Situation after the export of the folder as a catalog:

Test before deleting the files and don’t forget backups!

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Thanks for your reply! I will do some tests to see how that works.

Just a note that I always save XMP files. They are tiny. They can become lost if one is not careful to include them when moving RAW files. Catalogs just save the XMPs for you, but they can become corrupt even if you try to backup often!
I have not begun to use NLP yet. I have it installed and ready. I suspect it’s a good idea to save the NLP settings (I assume that’s possible) and I will test that tomorrow. Glad I read this!

NLP’s settings can be restored through XMP sidecars…but not if you applied NLP to virtual copies.
Lightroom does not save VC stuff in the xmp sidecars.

Testing a folder of images again, I found that the original test folder including the sidecars weighs 230 MB while the one with the catalog comes in at 238 MB. Imo, the difference is not so important compared to the risk one takes in losing information that Lr doesn’t save to xmp sidecars.
Note: XMP sidecars are not meant to be catalog backups!

Please note that I don’t save the full catalog here, but export the folder as a catalog, a wording that might imply that images are NOT exported, which is NOT the case as we can see in the screen I posted above.

Thanks to @Digitizer for pointing me in the right direction. Archiving the RAW files as a Lightroom Catalog works for me.

First, in Lightroom Classic, I selected the folder of RAW files which I wanted to remove from my working hard drive and used: File>Export as Catalog, being sure the box to “Export Negative Files” was checked. I then burned that exported LR Catalog to a Verbatim BluRay M-Disc for archival storage.

Next, in Lightroom Classic, I selected all the RAW files in the folder and deleted them (Delete from Disc). All the RAW files were moved to the Trash on my iMac. And then I Removed that folder from my Lightroom catalog.

When I tried to re-import the archived LR Catalog directly from the BluRay M-Disc, that did not work. But after copying the archived LR catalog from the M-Disc to my Desktop, then I was able to re-import the folder back into Lightroom (File>Import from another catalog). It appears that all my edits, Captions, Keywords, etc. (including Negative Lab Pro custom metadata) survived the export/import process – so for me, this is a workable solution.

To clarify, I am doing this only for RAW camera-scans of my negatives which have been converted to high quality JPEG positive versions of those same scans. Since the JPEG versions are edited the way I want them, it would be very unusual for me to want to start over with a RAW file. But archiving the RAW files keeps that open as a possibility without needing to digitize the negatives a second time.

Of course, my Lightroom catalog (and my entire hard drive) get frequent backups to several external hard drives.

I never delete the raw files unless they are either technically or artistically not worth keeping. After all, they are the very source of everything we can do in Lightroom.

Instead, I export jpegs to from wher they are easily available for sharing, email etc.

Relying on Time Machine can be a mixed blessing as it can delete old backups when the drive gets full…there is always something that needs watching, alas.