I’m frustrated

Lightroom: 3.4 is corrupting my source JPEG's (no, really!)

Now I know what you're thinking, but hear me out ... I've been working on this problem for a few days now, and I've googled plenty of threads where people have thought that LR was corrupting their images, and friendly people gently pointed out that LR doesn't modify your source images, and that the problem was probably a bad hard drive, memory card, or otherwise - but this is different.

The specs:

Lightroom 3.4
OS X 10.6.7 - all latest updates
Model Identifier: MacPro5,1
Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
Number Of Processors: 1
Total Number Of Cores: 4
L2 Cache (per core): 256 KB
L3 Cache: 8 MB
Memory: 8 GB

The situation:

A few days ago, I started noticing corrupted images in my LR catalog. Opening the images in Finder / Preview / Photoshop showed the same corruption, so it wasn't an issue with LR previews or thumbnails - the files were really toast.

I used ImageVerifier to search out all possible bad files, and was able to restore good versions of the (JPEG) images from backups - about 50 total, so far so good.

I verified that the files looked good in Finder / Preview, then re-opened Lightroom and navigated to the restored images. The images I had just restored started updating their thumbnails in LR, and right before my eyes several of them came up corrupted. I looked back in Finder, and sure enough, the files were bad again - with a current timestamp on them. It appears that LR had updated the files with a new thumbnail or metadata when reading the images, and corrupted them in the process.

I've repeated this process twice, with the same results. Again, I was able to restore the corrupted files from backups, but I'm now afraid to open up my master catalog and browse around for fear of destroying more images.

Some things I've tried:

I took a set of the restored images (now known to be good, but the same files had been corrupted by LR previously), and copied them to a new folder for testing. I created a new blank catalog, and Added those images to it. I added keywords, adjusted development settings, etc. then "Saved" the settings to the XMP data in the JPEG images. Timestamps all updated on the files, so I know data was saved into them - but nothing got corrupt. I tried copying the original known good images over these newly updated ones - LR didn't complain, but rebuilt it's thumbnails silently, and no corruption. I tried copying corrupt files over them - sure enough, new thumbnails rebuild showing them corrupted in LR. I then copied the good files back again, and LR happily rebuilt the previews/thumbs again with no issues. Basically, I could not reproduce the problem with a fresh catalog.

So this makes me think that something is wrong with my master catalog file - but I have 100,000 images in it, with tons of keywords and developer settings. How can I repair or migrate this catalog without loosing my settings, or corrupting more files?

The facts:
  • This is hard drive data only - no camera cards are involved here. Some of these images were copied to the hard drive years ago, and according to my backup archives were in good condition as recently as 1 month ago.
  • The hard drive appears to be good - Disk Utility reports no errors, and data only gets corrupted when I view the files in LR.
  • The appearance of the corrupted files seems to correlate with the time I upgraded from LR 3.3 -> LR 3.4, though that may be coincidence.
  • I've attached an example of a file corrupted by LR.

    Next, I will try downgrading to LR 3.3, but it's late, I'm tired, and I don't want to be risking more files when I can't think straight and don't trust myself to restore them properly.

    If anyone has any other suggestions I would be most appreciative - but for the moment, this puts a bit of a kink in my photography work-flow :)

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

    Here's an example corrupted file:



    And here's the original known good image:

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