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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Applications > What is the difference between backing up and copying iPhoto Library?

What is the difference between backing up and copying iPhoto Library?
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Feb 25, 2013, 01:20 PM
 
I need to do a rebuild of my iPhoto Library (08), but before doing that I would like to do a backup to an external drive. I've over-googled the subject and am now confused and nervous about doing it properly. I don't want to lose anything forever in case there's a screw up while rebuilding the original library on my macbook.

In my searching this typifies what seems to be the way to backup:
"Backing up is making a copy to your hard drive. If you do that manually, you drag the folder to the symbol of the external hard drive on your desktop, and it will be copied there."
Apparently its' supposed to be simple: Open Pictures, find the IPhoto Library icon, drag it to the external.

But I've also read that just dragging the iPhoto Library from the Pictures folder is only making a copy. Is there a difference between "copying" and "backing up"? Some sources have said to use Time Machine to backup to the external but is that really necessary when I just want to have an extra copy of my current iPhoto library during the rebuild. Does a backup involve having to use
Time Machine or some other software? Does the software do something that makes it a "backup"
vs "a copy".

Could someone please help by posting the way to backup my current iPhoto library?

Thanks for helping me gain clarity.

Oy.
     
cgc
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Feb 25, 2013, 01:54 PM
 
A backup is simply a copy of files, sometimes there may be more to it like versions (e.g. Time Machine) but for your purposes, copying the iPhoto library our of your Photos folder should do it. Before doing something that could risk losing all your valuable photos, why not copy it to a backup then try to restore from that backup. If that doesn't work you still have the original iPhoto library. I use Aperture and I think it's basically the same...I have Time Machine copy my Aperture library and I also do a secondary copy to a third hard drive and to "the cloud".
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
ClaraT  (op)
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Feb 25, 2013, 02:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
A backup is simply a copy of files, sometimes there may be more to it like versions (e.g. Time Machine) but for your purposes, copying the iPhoto library our of your Photos folder should do it. Before doing something that could risk losing all your valuable photos, why not copy it to a backup then try to restore from that backup. If that doesn't work you still have the original iPhoto library. I use Aperture and I think it's basically the same...I have Time Machine copy my Aperture library and I also do a secondary copy to a third hard drive and to "the cloud".
How do I copy it to a backup? Do you mean copy it--drag and drop--to a backup hard drive? Then how would I restore?

Thanks
     
cgc
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Feb 25, 2013, 04:08 PM
 
Yeah, drag and drop the iPhoto Library icon from your Pictures folder to your backup harddrive, thumb drive, DropBox, etc. To restore, you just copy it from the device you copied it to (e.g. the hard drive, thumb drive, DropBox, etc.) back to your Pictures folder. I seriously recommend you do the following just to make you have it down:
  1. Close iPhoto
  2. Drag and drop your iPhoto Library onto backup device
  3. Rename the original iPhoto Library to something else like iPhoto Library - Old
  4. Drag and drop your iPhoto Library from the backup device back into your Pictures folder
  5. Open iPhoto and make sure everything's there
  6. Make sure the iPhoto Library is still on your backup and you didn't move instead of copy it

I get puckered dealing with critical files so a quick double-check is good before you do any formatting or deleting. CNet describes essentially the same thing.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
ClaraT  (op)
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Feb 25, 2013, 05:24 PM
 
I really appreciate the details on the steps you've given. The link is also one of the most straightforward and helpful and hadn't found that in my searching and reading. So thanks for sending that along as well.

I was getting so backed up about what the difference was between copying and backing up. You've verified that dragging it to another device is all it takes to have an extra "copy" of the library which is now backed up and all will be well.

Thanks for your time and clear guidance.
     
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Feb 27, 2013, 10:15 AM
 
I would probably make it even simpler. I would make a copy of that iPhoto Library on another drive (external hard drive, USB stick, whichever) and then test that copy by opening iPhoto using that library instead of the default. To do this, you simply press and hold "Option", then launch iPhoto. You will be asked to pick which iPhoto Library you wish to open. You can then browse your Mac and navigate to the new copy you just made. This way, you don't have to rename the original, then copy the new copy back to the place of the original.

As far as the terminology is concerned, copy and backup are essentially the same thing. When we talk about computers, we use the word "copy" when we make quick copies of files (or folders) for various purposes -- to share files, to make modified versions of existing ones, and so on. When we say "backup", we usually mean we are making a copy of a file, folder or a disk specifically for safety purposes -- to have an additional spare copy in case something happens to the original. The backup is NOT meant to be altered; it is there only in case something happens to the original file, so that you can restore that original file from backup. The techniques involved in creating a backup are identical to those used when creating a copy, since that is exactly what backup is -- a copy.

Time Machine provides an automated system for creating backups. It ensures that entire user-generated content of your Mac is copied to an external device. It makes regular copies of your content frequently. It also keeps track of all other related issues (directory structure, periodic changes in the files, permissions, etc). All this is meticulously recorded and organised so that you don't have to think about it. If anything happens to your data, you go into the Time Machine and "travel back in time" until the moment in the past when everything was still fine. Time Machine is really cool, since it remembers when you delete files (as well as emails) on your Mac, so you can go back in time and restore those deleted files.

This may have been a bit more than you asked, but I figured, you might be interested to know.
     
ClaraT  (op)
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Feb 27, 2013, 03:00 PM
 
Yes! Again, many thanks. I am interested.

You've finally cleared up my question about the difference between a copy and a backup and soothed my nerves. Most helpful.

I'm about to copy my iPhoto Library to the external for "safe keeping purposes" - then once that's done
I am going to do the rebuild of the original iPhoto Library that is on the internal hard drive. My thinking is should the rebuild go weird I'll have the original library on the external as a backup and my photos will still there--even if they're out of whack (events show photos, but different photos are seen once I double click on the event).

The Time Machine information was good to have also. I'd like to pursue a discussion on that at another time because I did lose all my prior backups except the latest one when I migrated from TM to a new internal. But as I said, that's for another thread sometime.
     
   
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