Lightroom Classic: Incorrect flag: "Metadata Was Changed Externally"

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I have been using Lightroom 6 on a perpetual license.  I store scanned photos in TIFF format on a networked SMB share, for processing in Lightroom.  Today, the photos that I had just scanned and imported into Lightroom (with the "synchronize folder" method) showed the icon in the upper right to indicate "Metadata Was Changed Externally".  When I click the icon and choose "overwrite settings", the icon disappears but a little while later it appears again.  In some cases, a different icon appears which indicates "Metadata has conflict".  The icons pop back up like Whack-a-Mole, not on every file at once but on apparently random files.

I have been working off an SMB share for many years and never seen this behavior.  I have occasionally seen a "Metadata conflict" when a file had been deleted and replaced but I just had to "overwrite" or "use metadata from disk" one time to fix the warning permanently.

I upgraded to Lightroom Classic on a subscription (v9.2) and still had the flags.  After clearing them 2-3 times, they do seem to have gone away. 

Any ideas about what might have caused this weirdness, and why it briefly persisted in v9.2 and then went away?
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John Stimson

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Posted 4 months ago

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John Stimson

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Update: I just applied a crop to each image, and each image that I applied the crop to now has the "Metadata has conflict" flag.  I'm going to try a reboot.
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John Stimson

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After the reboot I am now getting a mix of "Metadata has conflict" and "Metadata was changed externally" flags.  I am getting them in older folders, too, not just the files that were scanned and had changes applied today.  This is really spooky.

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John Stimson

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I copied the folder of today's scans over to the local drive.  A photo I had just cropped did not have the crop applied.  I'm guessing that the medatata is not being written to the file as it is applied, and then Lightroom notices that the file metadata is different from the database data, but assumes that the difference is because another program changed the file and not because Lightroom hadn't written it yet.  

I do not see any metadata inconsistency flags for the folder that was copied onto the local drive.  So it seems this is a problem with working over the network share.  

I did upgrade the file server from a much older version of Samba and it is running on a much faster drive (nVME SSD instead of a SATA 3GB hard disk) on the ext4 file system instead of ext3.  That was a month ago and I have not worked with Lightroom off the networked folders since then.
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Carlos Cardona

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You don’t mention the most crucial detail, Mac or PC? SMB shares go in and out of buggyness on Macs with each new “.0” major version of the OS.
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John Stimson

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PC, Windows 10, up to date on OS updates.
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Dan Hartford Photo

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Update: I just applied a crop to each image, and each image that I applied the crop to now has the "Metadata has conflict" flag.  I'm going to try a reboot.
That is expected behavior as at that point the LR catalog shows one crop and the metadata on (or with) the image has another crop.  Do you automartically save XMP data to images (it's a preference setting)?   If your catalog is showing the correct metadata, try "save metadata to file" which should clear the flag.  Then crop again and if you are not automatically saving xmp data you should see the icon showing that there is a mismatch.  

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John Stimson

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Both "Include develop settings inside JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and PSD files" and "Automatically write changes into XMP" are selected.

When I select "save metadata to file", the flag is only temporarily cleared.  Without doing any other changes, the flag reappears about a minute later.  Visiting other existing folders that live on the network share, the folder initially looks clean, then within a minute, flags for out of sync metadata (both "has conflict" and "was changed externally") start to appear on files which have not been changed in months.
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Peter Söderberg

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This is a really old bug that obviously is neglected by Adobe. Search around here and you will find other threads about the matter.
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Dan Hartford Photo

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As the LR notice pops back on a few moments after it is cleared would make me suspect that some background process in your OS is modifying the file.  It could be anything.  I have seen a case where a back up tool that runs on the system continually looking for changed files touches the file when it backs it up (e.g. flips a flag in the file attributes) and LR then detects that the file has changed outside of LR and sets the flag you see in the grid.  Another possibility is if the the folder is cloud sync'd (not Adobe sync) and the act of syncing it to the cloud modifies something that LR then detects.

Turn off all backup and syncing  tools (including Time Machine) that you may have running on your computer and see if the problem goes away or not.
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John Stimson

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There are no backup or syncing processes running.  There is a scheduled dump that runs in the middle of the night, but the dump is taken from a snapshot clone of the drive and does not operate on the original drive.  I am not working in Lightroom at that time anyway.
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John Stimson

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I just did an experiment, examining the access time (atime), attribute change time (ctime), and modification time (mtime).   I found an old folder that hadn't been touched in a few years.  All of the time stamps were from 2016 or earlier.  I visited that folder in my Lightroom catalog.  As soon as I selected a thumbnail, all three time stamps were updated to the time that I touched it.  

So it look like Photoshop is not just accessing the file, but modifying its contents.  When I simply open an old file in the Windows photo viewer, none of the times are altered.

Could this possibly be due to a tiny time offset between the server and the client?  The client is time-synced to the server via NTP, so when I say a tiny offset, I mean tiny.

Or perhaps something is getting mucked up in the translation between the UNIX atime/ctime/mtime and whatever time attributes that Windows uses.  And the default way of handling those mappings has changed between the older version of samba and the new one.