Elements: How to process an Organizer catalog that can't be repaired

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I have a Organizer Catalog that can't be  repaired.   However Photoshop Elements seems to be able to open it and I don't know what if any functionality is affected.     Any backup that I have, has the same error so being advised to go back to a backup is not helpful.   I think two things should be done.  1) An error report should indicate what the error has to do with and 2) a tool should be developed that will recover what is not in error from a catalog and offer to create a new one.    The situation I am in should not be left as it is.  I was given now warning that there was a problem.  As a result, all of my backups have been bad and are not usable for me.   Please fix this.    roger@oblad.org 
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Posted 2 years ago

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Steve Lehman

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Hello Roger, (rpoblad3)   read all of this one

The more you describe this, I think you need a remove/reinstall.  There may be no work around other than to start over.   Others who had this type of problem in the past has removed and reinstalled successfully to start over after not finding a work around.    

The only problem you have is a corrupt backup which could have developed with your backup in a cloud.   Earlier, I mentioned that most clouds have their own backup (a "safety") that has a file format (file-suffix) that can match those that exist in Windows or another program which could corrupt your files in the cloud backup AND corrupt your program on your computer.   Try doing a backup onto an external drive, and if this is also corrupt, then the organizer has the problem.  If not, the cloud is the culprit.   I think Michel had a similar exercise to find the same result.   In Elements you can use Edit>Backup catalog to make it easier.   Use an external hard drive first, before you use a cloud.   I am convinced that the cloud you utilized corrupted your system.   An external drive will not.  

Here's an easy explained summary of this:   
Michel agreed with me earlier, that your cloud may have corrupted your backup.   In case you missed it (above), clouds have their own backup files as they simply take your JPG photo files into the cloud and backup your JPG files under a different file-format within the cloud itself.   That different file is their way of safeguarding your files in their own backup system.   Their backup files could match a Windows file-format or a Photoshop file-format which will corrupt both files in both systems, Photoshop and the cloud (your space).   At your backup (in the cloud) when you add, remove, delete, or obtain your backup, you may have pulled the cloud's backup into your system which corrupted Windows or Photoshop because your cloud's backup file-format has the same file-format as another in Windows or Photoshop and although both of those files seem like the same format, they can be working against each other, as they will corrupt each other's files and render them inoperable which sends an error message to the screen.  

As said above - to rerun what I said about Drop Box above, Drop Box has .ppt files used for their (cloud) backup within Drop Box and you will NOT see these files openly as they are THEIR files, but having both on the same system will corrupt the system.   These files have been seen as an attached file in Outlook (email) and if those backup files are selected in Outlook, they will corrupt Outlook, because Outlook uses that same file-format (.ppt) for its first-programmed profiles.  

As an example in Drop Box, it can be a JPG photo file that is backed-up in Drop Box and it is your JPG file but their backup file within Drop Box is a .ppt file, which is the same file-format used within Outlook.   If you have 2 file-formats that match each other in the same system on your computer, and even if they are used for different reasons, they will corrupt each other.   What actually happens is that one .ppt file is taken to be used in the other program as a profile but its content won't work in the cloud files which is also being tried there.  Content in both files are not compatible with either programming, so an error message is sent to the screen, and you may get 2 error messages at the same time, one per each program.   

I think this is close to what happened.  

You need a remove and reinstall the program or install another program even if it is the same version, to make sure it's a good clean install.   All technicians will go for a "clean install" even for Windows, if it can resolve the problem at hand.  Maybe you can obtain a real disc for your program, instead of a download.   Stay away from cloud(s) and get an external drive for backup.   
Don't mind my suggestion, I'm only a Windows engineer, and as such, I always go for a reinstall.   I've seen many things crop-up in my long experience as a technician.   Before computers at 18 years old, I became a radio engineer after passing the FCC Class-E, Radio-Telegraph-Electronic-Engineer, Repair and Switching FCC license.   When I was 14 I was fixing TV sets in my neighborhood.   I began computers in 1982 when I took them apart to tinker with them.   I've had 4 years of study at the University of Washington in Technology and obtained my MCSE engineering certifications in the early 1990's.   I worked for 9 years at Microsoft with photo software, and yes, we also examined the first Photoshop during that time.   At Microsoft, I was in communication with Adobe technicians at Adobe's Seattle facility, just a short drive from Microsoft in Seattle's Fremont district.   I still visit my Adobe friends on weekends.   My engineering expertise is applications, Windows servers (since the Windows 3.11 days), Windows Enterprise host networks, and programming.   Banks use the Enterprise edition of Windows.   I have all of Adobe Elements versions from its beginning, plus full Photoshop's and Light Room.  

I don't think the problem in this case is Photoshop.   I've seen a reinstall fix this problem.  You can see what Michel might have to save your backup or catalog library.   He's more experienced with the organizer.    

But my opinion stays:   I think a cloud corrupted your backup files.   A reinstall is not a fun start-over, but could resolve this problem.   You could reroute photos to another Elements.   Elements has its own Proforma (moves huge content) to move your files.   In reference to the organizer catalog, a proforma is used to move a database.   If its files begin with sq(file name), SQ is the beginning of files in SQ-Lite which is a very small database program in the organizer.  It's a powerful database within Photoshop, but it is a tiny program compared to its mother-program, SQL with its server programming, and as a huge program it generates a huge relational database, and can be a powerful host-server, large enough for Googles search engine, which Google has.   SQL is much more powerful and much larger than Windows.   Adobe Elements might use its own proforma for SQ-Lite as a catalog mover built into Elements, located in the organizer at  Edit>Move Catalog File, or Edit>Backup Catalog.   You could ask Michel how to use this, if you don't know.   It's a built-in mini-proforma for Adobe's database.   A proforma is a small program which is used to keep a database and its metadata intact while it moves huge amounts of content.  

Please do not move your files to the cloud again.   I think it began this problem.   

Steve Lehman, MCSE
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Thanks Steve,. I have read what you wrote and understand it. My issue has nothing to do with the cloud. Here are my reasons.

1) I began to see this issue of having a corrupt catalog, before I had ever created a backup or restored my catalog, regardless of where it was written to.

2) I have not seen any error messages generated when I have either created a backup dine a restore from a backup.

3) I was able to duplicate the exact same issue of having a corrupt catalog, after migrating to a brand new PC and with a fresh install of Adobe Photoshop Elements.

4) I have had a corrupt catalog for more than a year. Prior to having seen this issue, I had never used the restore from backup functionality.

5) When I did the recent migration to a new PC, I did a backup and restore from a USB drive. A cloud service was not involved.

By the way, MS OneDrive also has similar issues. Some file names that are accepted by windows are not acceptable to OneDrive. At least in the case of OneDrive it will tell you when this has happened.

So I still have a corrupt catalog.

I need to find a way to eliminate this problem without losing more data than is absolutely necessary. I am not concerned about losing tags or the image files because I know I can recover those. An exception being is I assume I would lose the hierarchy the tags are organized in. The primary thing that I would like to not lose are albums. At the moment, the only way I can think of to recover from my corrupt catalog issue, is to manually re-create each album after inputting all of the image files into a fresh new catalog. This would be painful.
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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Currently I have four thumbnails that can't be deleted. I have occasional application crashes that occur at the end of taking an action.   The search feature is broken meaning that once I successfully do a search, I can't get out without closing the app.  
What happens exactly when you try to delete your thumbnails? Are those 'missing' or disconnected files? If so, after doing a search for missing files, you may have missed the small icon on the top of the missing file list dialog (3 horizontal bars). It opens a menu which lets you 'select all' and/or 'delete' all missing files from the catalog.
The search feature (from the magnifying glass icon) displays a list of found files, but you can't do anything with the display, you have to go back to the normal 'grid' view by clicking on the < sign top left.
The primary thing that I would like to not lose are albums.
The workaround may be to assign a common keyword to all the items in the album. You would lose the sort order only.
I assume I would lose the hierarchy the tags are organized in.
You can save your tags hierarchy to a text file via the options in the header of the keyword panel and restore it.

As explained before, if your catalog.pseXXdb file is not corrupt, you will recover your albums, stacks, version sets and notes as well as the captions and tags. If the corruption is in the face recognition or visual similarity, that's another story...
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Steve Lehman

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Okay, so we need to guess again:
1) I began to see this issue of having a corrupt catalog, before I had ever created a backup or restored my catalog, regardless of where it was written to. 

It appears that we have a lack of information.   
This has nothing to do with a backup but has more to do with the install disc.  


3) I was able to duplicate the exact same issue of having a corrupt catalog, after migrating to a brand new PC and with a fresh install of Adobe Photoshop Elements. 

If this same problem exists on a brand new PC, then its your install disc.   

Either you haven't given all the information or we need to guess again,      
and I still see a need to reinstall.   You haven't done that yet.  
IF thumbnails are not appearing or appearing as gray, then
your program has a deficiency, a lack of system files.  
Do a reinstall!     And find a new disc to do it with.   
Your install disc is corrupt.