Catastrophic failure in Lightroom DB: files & folders *completely* missing

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  • Updated 5 years ago
My Lightroom 4 database seems to have suffered a catastrophic failure at some point in time. I've recently noticed that several folders have gone completely missing from Lightroom - and I *don't* mean the usual case where they are marked missing in LR, but there just aren't *any* references to them at all. And likewise, the photos inside the folders are also nowhere to be found in LR. And yes, the folders and files are 100% intact in the file system so that's not the problem either.

I took a look at the actual raw LR database (it's standard SQL, so easily browsable outside LR too with the right tools) and the missing folders indeed are not in agLibraryFolder-table. At least some of the photos inside those folders however do exist in agLibraryFile-table (haven't checked for every single photo, we're talking hundreds here at least!). I haven't been able to pintopoint the table that contains edits done in LR to verify if they are safe.

I do make a regular backup of the DB with TimeMachine, haven't yet checked if some of the backed up versions are in better shape.

So, my questions (to begin with):

1) what the bloody **** has happened to my database?? at no point have I received any warnings or other indicators that the DB would be corrupt

2) what would be the best way to recover from this, assuming I do find a backup containing currently missing files? Obviously I can't just revert to old BD, I would loose all the new photos there...

Needless to say, I'm pretty damn furious - LR has lost full editing history of at least hundreds of photos, easily worth of days if not weeks of working hours. This is the kind of stuff that just should NOT happen, it's just a tiny bit less catastrophic than losing actual image files. Haven't done a very thorough check yet on how many folders&files we're talking about here, the scale could be even worse...
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Miemo Penttinen

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  • furious

Posted 5 years ago

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john beardsworth

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Obviously this happens rarely, if ever.

Sure you've not been working an old catalogue? Have a look at your backups. When does the problem begin? Was it on an external or internal drive? Anyone else been using the catalogue? Any physical problems with drives? Could anything have been accessing the SQL?

Make sure you copy the current catalogue as it is now and back it up.
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Miemo Penttinen

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> Sure you've not been working an old catalogue?

Nope, this issue is manifesting itself in the current catalogue that contains e.g. photos from couple of days back - and the full history from several years, just without the missing photos.

> Have a look at your backups. When does the problem begin?

Will need to dig deeper to my backups a bit later.

> Was it on an external or internal drive?

The photos in question have been moved around quite a bit - first from my previous Mac to external drive, then possibly to another external drive later. I've always done the moving within Lightroom.

> Anyone else been using the catalogue?

Nope, it's not shared in any way, nor are the drives containing the photos.

> Any physical problems with drives?

Not that I've noticed. I do run disk checks every now and then.

> Could anything have been accessing the SQL?

Well I haven't personally taken a look at the SQL database before this issue arrived, and I've been looking at a copy now. I don't know what else could be accessing it.
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john beardsworth

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Miemo Penttinen

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In case anyone's interested: I did manage to restore an old enough Lightroom DB from an older off-site backup disk and export+import the missing directories back to current catalogue. The DB mishap had happened quite a long ago, so my current TimeMachine backup didn't anymore contain old enough versions. So a good reminder to make sure your backup scheme contains long enough history!

The problem spanned 16 directories (containing alltogether hundreds of files), most of them from one single year (2009). The DB version which was intact was from LR3 from 2010.

Quite honestly, I would worry much much less for similar incidents in the future, if someone from Adobe had taken even a peek at this problem to make sure they understand what had gone wrong... But actual support from a SW house these days I guess is just too much to ask as a paying customer.