Lightroom: Corrupted files.

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  • Updated 2 years ago
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LR4 is destroying or corrupting my photo files. I can't see them anymore. They are white or with strange colors. I can send you examples of that. Thank you for your help.
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YAECHE Jean Christophe

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Posted 6 years ago

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jdv, Champion

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This is almost certainly a bad image file before it came to Lightroom. It is either bad media, or the way you are transferring it to your computer is corrupting it.

Remember that many other apps do not show you the actual image -- they merely show you the embedded preview. Lightroom ignores this preview and builds its own, so it is more likely to find this sort of corruption than (say) the Finder or Explorer or some image viewer. Even the camera may not show you corruption if its embedded JPEG preview is ok.

Go back to first principles. Verify the media is good. Verify that the way you are transferring the image data to Lightroom is sound.
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Chrisf01

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We have had exactly the same issues - and it is very, very alarming.

When we first imported our photos into Lightroom we noticed that a few of the previews had the bottom 3/4 of the preview white or a luminous green (similar to the appearance above). When I noticed the first one I thought it must have been a problem with a new little compact camera I had just purchased, but when I went into the Explorer folder the photo was OK there so I re-imported it and was very relieved.

However - any that I have since double-checked in Explorer are also corrupted there now, so something has happened to them in Lightroom. That is, Lightroom has affected the original file.

I have since searched for one of the important photos (which I was horrified to think I had lost) on an original back-up which we made at the time of our trip (thank goodness) and the photo is fine when viewing it with Windows Live Photo Gallery, Picassa etc. We have also imported this copy of the photo into Lightroom and it imported just fine. So it is presumably therefore NOT a corrupt image. Lightroom 4 IS presumably corrupting the files.

We have in the past imported over 125,000 photos using Photoshop Elements 10 (and previous versions of course) and never had a problem like this.

The photos affected were taken with three different cameras, the compact mentioned above and two DSLRs so it is not the fault of the camera.

We are seriously so concerned that we are worried about using Lightroom again.

(Lightroom 4.1 (though photos imported with 4) and Windows 7)
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Chris, I can't say 100% that it's not Lightroom, but every case that's been investigated has turned out to be a hardware issue. It doesn't have to happen in the camera - things like a dying hard drive, bad hard drive connection, or bad memory, among other things, can cause corruption at a later stage.

I completely understand your concerns, and it would be great to get to the bottom of it. Can you confirm what file types? Are they kept on an internal or external hard drive? And have they been moved between hard drives at any stage? Did they go straight from the camera to their current location? Using a cable or card reader?
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Chrisf01

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Thanks for your concern Victoria and willingness to help. I have added a reply below which I hope answers some of your questions. We have to be able to copy files from one hard drive to another, so does that mean that this will always be a risk?
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Chrisf01

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Sorry, forgot - they are jpeg files.
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John Grant

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Same problem with files from an external hard drive, quit external drive and Lightroom. Reopened Lightroom and imported files from a card reader, perfect!
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Florian Freimoser

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Hello,

I have the same problem and I am also alarmed and hesitant to continue using Lightroom.
In my case the problem happens with photographs that are fine at the beginning and then suddenly corrupt. It also happens that another photograph is suddenly shown on top of a corrupt photograph even though I have never renamed the files and know (I have verified!) that the names are unique.
I have backups that I make as soon as I transfer photographs. Until now I could always restore the corrupt image file by going back to this old backup. This indicates to me that the file cannot be the problem, but I may be wrong.

However, I do not have a solution yet and also have to do more testing in order to find out when the problem occurs. I have tried even from two different computers and had problems with both (but I have not yet verified if the problems arise independently on both computers or if they are carried over).

In the reply above the question about moving photographs is raised .... I have done this often but only have problems now. Should this be avoided?
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Chrisf01

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We have experienced this too - where the photo is fine, then corrupt. It is nice to know that someone else is having exactly the same problem. In our case, it seems to be quite random too.
I think it would be impossible for us to not move photos between drives - and, like you, we have never had a problem before we started using Lightroom.
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Rikk Flohr, Champion

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I would put money on, in this order:

Bad Cable
Bad Card Reader
Bad Card
Hardware fault in computer (RAM/Drive)

Lightroom uses the OS to move/copy files. If that is where the problem is occuring, it is more likely an OS issue.

As Victoria says, we've investigated many of these and never found LR to be the culprit. Direct connecting a camera to a computer with the cheap cable supplied with your camera is always the first place I look.
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Florian Freimoser

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Thank you very much for your reply!

Since in my case, the files seem to be fine at the beginning but turn bad at some point long after having been imported into Lightroom, I can assume that cables, cards or card reader are not the problem. Is this correct?

So it could be the RAM. In this case, the problem should be limited to one defective computer and not occur on two computers (unless both of these computers suddenly developed the same problem at the same time). If the harddrive harboring the photographs was the problem it should most likely only occur with one drive, no?

If it was a problem of the OS things would be most difficult I guess....

I will have to do some investigations in order to finde out....

Thanks again.
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Rikk Flohr, Champion

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If it happens well after import into Lightroom it is likely hard-drive or corruption due to virus activity. With two separate machines, I look for common hardware (Cables, etc) or common software (possible virus in this case).

Sounds like you have some testing to do.
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Chrisf01

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Hi again,

Thank you everyone for taking the time to make suggestions about this problem.

However, I read these replies with some concern:

How can you import your photos direct to the final computer when you are out in the field, or on a several-week overseas trip etc? We have always copied our photos to a external hard drive when we are away from home, then copied them to our master hard drive when we get home. I don't see how this can be avoided.

In the past we have imported tens of thousands of photos using this method and with Photoshop Elements - we have only had this problem with file corruption since we moved to Lightroom a few weeks ago.

I am also concerned that you say there have been many instances of this to investigate! Also, has this problem been an issue with any other Adobe programmes or only Lightroom?

How do people test their hardware? What steps do we need to go through? The occurrence is very random and I am sure we could import hundreds of files without it happening. That is, this has not happened to us with a group of photos on import, but is a very random occurrence - one file out of hundreds.

This may be a little cynical, but do you know for sure whether the people who have had this issue in the past, have definitely not had another corrupt file since they detected the problem with their hardware? Or have they just given up using Lightroom!

This is a problem new to us, only since using Lightroom, and the commonality of the problem is worrying.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Chris, at what point did you make the backup of the 'good' backup file? Was that still on the external drive?

Most file corruption happens when files are moving, so my best guess was that it happened you moved from the external hard drive to the master hard drive. If that fits, then the usb cable to the external drive would be a possibility, but I've also seen it where the external drive components (i.e. not necessarily the drive itself) were on their way out or there was a case I followed that turned out to be related to the USB port on the computer.

Corrupted files happen. It's not just Lightroom - it can show up in any software, and was happening long before Lightroom existed.

You asked how I'd transfer - I use file synchronization software which verifies the transfer. Vice Versa on Windows or Chronosync on Mac are generally my choices, because they'll do a byte-for-byte verification to confirm that the files have copied perfectly.
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Florian Freimoser

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Hello,

this answer was very helpful and most likely explains why I had corrupted files. I had been moving files to another drive and I think this is when my files became corrupted. All image files have now been restored from an original backup (by using sync/backup software) and everything seems to be fine again.

So I conclude that in my case the corrupted files have not been Lightrooms fault and I thank you very much for your answers. My experience also may confirm that a backup of all newly transferred images is highly recommended.

Thanks again!
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Chrisf01

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Thanks Victoria. Since we haven't experienced another corrupt file since these initial occurrences, I guess it must have been moving the files as you say. It was just very alarming at the time. And I still wonder how we have moved 125,000 files in the past without this issue! Anyway, thank you for your help, and for the suggestion about Vice Versa. If it happens again I will try to take note of everything that happens and run it past you. Thanks again.
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quid quomodo

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I have seen this photo corruption occurring regularly (it also happened to me years ago). The worst thing is that it is a silent process: if one doesn't happen to look at a particular photo one may never know that it is corrupted.

I put a feature request forward to implement an automatic photo integrity check into Lightroom, to warn the user when this is happening:
http://gsfn.us/t/30q6r
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Joern Rohde

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I have something very similar and was blaming it on my camera (1D Mk lV) until today. Occasionally I'll import a set of images and the first image in the set will go all 'wonky'...3/4 of the image will go white/stripey/pink and you usually can still see a corner of the original image (as in the above sample). I downloaded a set of portraits in December and edited the images and created low res jpg samples for my client. I went back to the set today and the first (RAW original) image I clicked on corrupted itself by going white. This is one of the images that I had already edited. If I bring up the image in my mac previewer it shows it as corrupted. If I duplicate the image, rename it and move it to a new folder (without the attached cache file), my mac previewer shows it as normal! But the second I open it in either LR 3 or 4 or Bridge (CS6) previewer it corrupts it again. The low res jpg created in December views normally in all programs. Freaking weird...now...I just moved the original RAW CR2 file to a different drive (my system SSD drive) (without the attached cache for one image and I rebuilt the cache for the folder for the other image) and both of those images opened normally...so most likely it's the hard drive it's being saved on (in my case it's a 3 TB Seagate drive).
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Gilles Reboisson

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Hi,

I'm a french guy so sorry for my english...

Is there anybody knowing why, when, how it happen ???
for my experience :
- 30% of each news importations are killed like that !
- also some pict who where well imported on my older macbook air (it start happening on a new 15" retina macbook pro with my library on an external WD usb3 drive)
- as you say files on my cards are good

I solve the proble by importing first on a lightroom library on the laptop, and use import from library on my external drive...

I don't need any answer on how to save my raw !

But I can't sleep with no answer WHY ?
who can help us ? Adobe ? Apple ? !!!
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Alexandre Mineev

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This is not a hardware problem, stop jerking your cables. At least it doesn't seem to be "only hardware" problem. And given how common this issue, it's likely not a loose cable issue (otherwise it will be rare).
I own Pentax SLRs since 2008 and I switched to Lr when they shipped v1 and initially I was a very happy camper. Then at some point, I think when I installed Lr 1.4 I started getting this pesky issue with corrupted imports. First rarely, then more and more often.
At first I blamed my SD cards. I replaced them, to no benefit. But the issue wasn't too bad yet on 10mp sensor producing jpegs.
Then I switched to raw and corruptions became more often as the size of imported files increased. Yet, I'm lazy, and I was solving this issue be repeating imports. Usually second import worked fine.
Then I upgraded body to 14mp sensor and corruptions became widespread and very very annoying. My import process is a bloody frustrating stage. I end up spending HOURs retrying some corrupted images and usually it pays and I get 100% imported, but damn this is shameful!!! Adobe, shame on you!!!

My facts:
I have not changed hardware (cheap Costo PC with two core AMD 64 proc) or OS (still running Vista in 32-bit mode) for the last 5 years.
I started with Lr 1.0 and some other versions < 1.4 and issue NEVER showed up!
Since 1.4 this is 100% reproducable on every import.

Adobe, this is race condition. You process previews and apply initial edits in parallel to multiple images. There is something going wrong either when you write the files to disk or during processing in memory.
Can it be caused by unti-malware software that scans files being written? Probably yes probably not. I excluded all import and destination folders from the scan list. this actually helped a bit! But may be you are writing some temp files along the processing somewhere?...

Ok, Adobe, you've optimized the crap out of image processing algorithms. You probably took some bold assumptions about hardware characteristics. You've tested it on your hardware. But what if my hardware doesn't work? Give me an option of "safe mode" processing where for some images I'm willing to process things on a single thread and wait for it. Give me this knob!

Also. One more thing for "race condition theory": I learned to copy my DNGs to C: drive before importing, just because I know I will need at least (Number_of_files / 2) attempts to get 100% imported. So each next re-import happens on the same files from a harddrive. And they all get imported eventually. Bits on C: drive don't heal themselves magically.
Another thing - common patter on reimport - importing one image is usually more successfull than importing a set of files. Still I believe even for a single file import you spin off multiple threads and they corrupt something between each other once in a while.

So, you optimized the crap out of the algorithms. You saved extra 0.01% from overall processing. But at what cost? Adding me hours of mind numbling retries?
Shame on you. Shame on you that you didn't fix it for such a long time. Years!

I'm stuck. I have tens of thousands of images in Lr database. With keywords, titles, corrections, etc. I can't move to another solution. So please go and fix it.
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Alexandre Mineev

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Here are my specs from Lr/SysInfo:

Lightroom version: 4.4 [891433]
Operating system: Windows Vista Home Edition Service Pack 2 (Build 6002)
Version: 6.0 [6002]
Application architecture: x86
System architecture: x86
Logical processor count: 2
Processor speed: 2.6 GHz
Built-in memory: 2045.7 MB
Real memory available to Lightroom: 716.8 MB
Real memory used by Lightroom: 268.4 MB (37.4%)
Virtual memory used by Lightroom: 306.5 MB
Memory cache size: 0.0 MB
Maximum thread count used by Camera Raw: 2
System DPI setting: 96 DPI
Desktop composition enabled: Yes
Displays: 1) 1680x1050
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Rob Cole

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If problem upon import, it's probably:

* camera
* card
* reader
* cable
* port

If after import, it's probably:

* ram
* disk

This problem has the signature tell-tale signs of a hardware problem, not software.

It's possibly due to a virus, but unlikely. Far less likely a problem with Lightroom software. I don't say that because I'm a stock-owning defender of Adobe, I say it because I believe without bias that it's true.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the problem or fix without finding by replacing stuff - this post will self-destruct in 5 seconds........

Don't wait for or expect Adobe to fix this! - attempting to educate them about threading and race conditions won't help...

Rob
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Dave Tremblay

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This is definitely a problem within lightroom. I am a software developer that writes media editing software for another company. I use lightroom 4 at home. My wife was actively working in lightroom when the corruption happened. It seemed to affect only jpeg files as all of the RAW images are fine. When I looked at the images on disk, they were corrupted. I even transferred the files to another machine to verify it wasn't hardware related or in the rendering libraries.

This happened to older files and through normal operation. It has nothing to do with importing images, or hardware. Lightroom 4 can corrupt jpegs on disk. Better hope you have a backup. Fortunately, I do.
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Rob Cole

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Try making your jpegs read-only. If Lr software problem, the corruption will stop (since OS will not permit any changes to read-only files). You won't be able to save xmp, so turn off auto-write and remember not to do it manually either, until problem resolved anyway. Of course you need to verify files are not corrupt *before* making them read-only, or test is invalid ;-}.
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Dave Tremblay

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One more detail... This appear to be a cross-platform issue as an earlier user is on Windows. We run OSX Mavericks on an iMac.
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Gérard LAGIER

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I found out the same problem : suden corruption in the development module under LR 5.4.
At the same time, 5.5 version was available and I installed it immediatly.
The big surprise was to see that the corrupted images remain good by only clicking on them...
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Juri Graf

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I have the same issue. LR shows me the file as corrupt. If I put the same file into a different location and import it into light it is fine again. So it definetely must be an issue of Lightroom. This is highly annoying. One of the main functions of Lightroom obviously fails completely here. 
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Sounds like your previews cache may be corrupted. Try this: open the catalog folder and look for a file/folder called '<Catalog name> Previews.lrdata'. Move it out of the catalog folder or trash it. Start Lightroom. Initially all your thumbnails will show blanks, but then Lightroom will start rebuilding them one by one. If the thumbnail(s) of the 'corrupted' image(s) are correct now, that was indeed the problem.