Lightroom Classic: Catalog can not open, won't repair and can not back up... help?

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  • Updated 1 month ago
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I've seen this issue around here for a couple of times, without proper solution posted, so here goes...

I was using lightroom and then I got this message: "the catalog could not be opened due to an unexpected error." Then I tried to repair the catalog in lightroom but it says this: "The Lightroom catalog is corrupt and cannot be used or backed up until it is repaired. I've tried choosing "repair catalog" but it doesn't work. There's a lot of work on this catalog that I need to access. 
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Willem Devriendt

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Posted 1 month ago

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dmeephd

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There is a guy at Adobe (who used to work on the LR team) who is an expert in repairing the catalogs. Victoria Brampton gave me his contact info and I sent my 25GB catalog to him in 2016 and he fixed it right up. Let me see if I can dig up his email and I'll get it to you.
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Ronald Byram

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Do you not have a backup?

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Carlos Cardona

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What about replacing the bad catalog file MANUALLY with the last backup (a copy of that backup file goes in the folder where the bad catalog is, which gets moved to the desktop just in case), then launch LR by double-clicking that catalog file. What have you got to lose?

You didn’t say Mac or Windows, so I didn’t mention the catalog folder locations, which are different.
(Edited)
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Normally, catalog corruptions are caused by imminently failing hardware. My first recommendation is to verify your hard drive is in good health. It would do little good to recover it only to see it fail again. 

Second place where corruption occurs is when a backup/sync process (e.g. Time Machine, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc) accesses an open, in-use Lightroom catalog. 

Your first stop should be to restore from your most recent backup.  The catalog repair tool that dmeephd mentions is available from normal support channels but is not a guarantee of recovery and almost always some data loss occurs during recovery.  Backup restoration is your best option.