Lightroom: Possible problem with catalog backup zip files

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In the Lightroom forum there have been a couple of threads where users are saying that they have tried to open the zip file that Lightroom created with the catalog backup. They say that the zip file is corrupt and won't open. I have tested the whole process of backing up and opening the zip file on my Windows 7 computer, and haven't experienced the problem. But it seems to exist. Has anyone else seen this?
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James Hess

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Posted 5 years ago

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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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We're investigating this (https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1834199) internally. This appear to be a Windows only issue where the catalog is larger than 4GB.
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James Hess

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Thank you for the feedback.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Simon, I've got a Mac guy with the same problem - it's a 1.8GB ZIP that unzips to a cpgz file too. I've verified his file doesn't unzip properly on my machine this morning too, unless I use extra software.
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Jim Wilde, Champion

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Simon, I've got a user at LRF with a possibly-related issue. In his case the catalog backup stalls 3/4 of the way through the process. He's tried turning off the Optimise and Integrity Check options, but with the same result. It appears to be stalling in the zipping process. His catalog size is 4gb, hence my mentioning it here.

Are you already investigating such issues, or do you need a bug report raising?
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Robert Frost

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I have the same problem; my 2.4GB (90K images) catalog results in a freeze part way through backup, leaving me with both the backed up uncompressed file and the compressed file. With a small catalog (100 images) it all works fine. Win8.1

Bob frost
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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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Thanks for the additional feedback. We've been able to reproduce the issue internally. And the dev is investigating it. I'll let dev know there is potentially a mac issue as well.
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Kjetil Drarvik, Employee

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The (free, available on Mac and Win) Stuffit Expander tool seems to be able to handle the problematic zip files better than the OS provided tools. At least in the cases I've seen.
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Robert Frost

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled LighttRoom 6 backup problem - more info.

I reported elsewhere that when I tried to backup LR6CC, LR stopped responding part way through the backup process.

I've re-upgraded my LR5 catalog (95K images, about 2.5GB size), created all new standard previews, new prefs file, and cleared acr cache. Also turned GPU OFF.

When I now try to backup, it gets part way through Optimizing the catalog, and then the backup dialog says 'Not Responding'. If I use Task manager to end the process, I find that I do have backups, but both the fullsized and compressed versions.

However, after being called away from the computer while it was doing the backup again, I found that eventually LR did start responding again, and went on to optimize the previews catalog, and then finished. This time it had just left the compressed version of the catalog.

This problem didn't occur with a new small LR6 catalog.

Win8.1,32GB ram, x99 mobo, ssds and HDDs.

So the hitch ought to be easy to find??

Bob Frost
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Robert Frost

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Well, LR6CC seems to have 'self-healing' code!!

Today, I played about with face recognition, and then tried backing up the catalog again. Surprise, surprise, it worked properly. The only difference I could see was that it was taking a long time to optimize the catalog, before it flashed up 'compressing the catalog', and then optimized the previews and finished normally, without any of the 'Not responding' that I have experienced so far with LR6.

And I didn't change anything in the computer in the last day; I was out most of the time. No updates, no nothing, unless Adobe is sending secret updates in all this communication that's going on in LR6CC.

It's debugged itself!!

Bob Frost
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Robert Frost

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled LightRoom 6 hanging when doing backups on Windows 8.1.

When exiting LR6 and doing a backup, it runs until it gets to optimizing catalog and then goes into a 'non-responding' state. It appears to create a normal backup and a compressed backup in the backup folder. I've not seen it do this before so it probably has something to do with the crash.

Turning off optimize catalog during backup has no effect - it still 'crashes' before the end. Optimizing the catalog while in LR6 is fine, no problems reported.

Bob Frost
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Warren Young

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Lightroom 6's zipped catalog backups are incompatible with OS X's built-in zip ut....

Double-clicking the file causes the OS X Archive Utility to launch, but since it doesn't recognize the file as a ZIP file already, it gets confused and begins packing it up into a new ZIP file.

If you try opening it at the command line with the built-in unzip utility, you get an error:

warning [Lightroom Catalog.lrcat.zip]:  76 extra bytes at beginning or within zipfile

(attempting to process anyway)
error [Lightroom Catalog.lrcat.zip]: reported length of central directory is
-76 bytes too long (Atari STZip zipfile? J.H.Holm ZIPSPLIT 1.1
zipfile?). Compensating...
skipping: Lightroom Catalog.lrcat need PK compat. v4.5 (can do v2.1)


I tried upgrading to Info-Zip 6.0 (Apple still ships 5.52 for some reason) and it only gives a shorter version of the same complaint.

I finally found that The Unarchiver will open these files, but you shouldn't have to install third-party software to restore a backup. I note that Lightroom itself won't directly open a *.lrcat.zip file.

If you're wondering why I have found this problem so quickly after Lr6's release, it is not because I am already restoring from backups. It is that I already had a method for compressing Lightroom catalog backups that is far more efficient than ZIP, and thus had to modify that script to cope with this change in Lightroom.

My method is based on xz(1), which gets the resulting file down to about half the size of the ZIP file produced by Lightroom. I have put the script online for anyone who cares to make use of it. (I tried to put it in pre blocks here, but the site's formatting code wrecks it.)

You will need to change the cbdir variable to your desired backup location. Also, it assumes that you tell Lightroom to save its backups in ~/tmp, which you will either need to emulate or change in the script.
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Official Response
This was fixed in the CC 2015.1 / 6.1 Update.
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Daniel Thoman

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LR6 crashed yesterday after your ad appeared for 'syncing' at startup. When I restarted it the catalog was gone. I tried to load the latest backup catalog. LR says the file is not writable or in use by another program. This only occurs with LR6 backups (all of them). I have applied the 6.1 update. The LR6 backups are named lightroom 5-2.lcrat. Shouldn't they be lightroom 6.
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Daniel, I want to make sure I understand you.

What OS? Version?

You have a Zipped catalog backup created by Lightroom?
And it won't unzip?
Or, it will unzip but won't open.

The file name looks right. If you upgraded a LR 5 catalog, it would have been called 5-2.
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Daniel Thoman

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I'm using windows 8.1. The backup unzip's but does not load. The error says 'lightroom cannot use the catalog named lightroom_5-2.lcrat[1] because it is not writable and cannot be opened', then asks if I would like to try again.
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Daniel Thoman

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I'm using windows 8.1. The backup unzip's but does not load. The error says 'lightroom cannot use the catalog named lightroom_5-2.lcrat[1] because it is not writable and cannot be opened', then asks if I would like to try again.
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Don Schwartz

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I am having the same issue as Daniel. I am not a wizard with computers and need help to open. Is there a way to save the files in an uncompressed manner as I did before I upgraded to Lightroom 6?
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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What are you doing when you receive the message indicated in Daniel's post, or what message do you get and what are you doing if the message is different?

The only time LR 6.1 saves uncompressed backups is on a Mac when they are larger than 4GB because Mac's OS utilities cannot open them.

Normally you should be able to double-click on a ZIP file from Windows Explorer and the default ZIP utility will open it.
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Don Schwartz

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The message says "Lightroom cannot use the catalog named Lightroom Catalog because it is not writable and cannot be opened."

I have tried it again and then I have closed the file, unsuccessful at opening it.
Any suggestions would be appreciated,
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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I ask, again, what are you doing when you see this message?
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Don Schwartz

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Sorry, I misunderstood what you were asking. I click twice on the compressed folder which then takes me to the Lightroom Catalog. I click twice to open the folder and then I get the message I shared with you.
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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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So in Windows Explorer (not LR or some other program) you double-click on the whatever.lrcat.zip and see the catalog file whatever.lrcat?

You are now viewing the names of the files in the ZIP file.

At this point you should right-click and choose Copy and then click over to where you want the catalog file to be extracted to and right-click Paste.

You cannot open a LR catalog while it is still IN the zip file and must be copied elsewhere.
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Don Schwartz

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Thanks Steve. With your assistance, I have figured out how to open up the backed up files. Thanks so much.
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John Woodman

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I have the same problem that Robert Frost reported a month ago - the stalling/ apparent crashing during back-up. A copy of the catalog is still being created, but if I try to start Lightroom from that copy I get the message that "the catalog cannot be opened because it is too new to be used by this version of Lightroom". This is obviously very disturbing, because it means that I am totally dependent on the single in-use copy of the catalog.
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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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Are you running Lr 6.1 which as a fix for a bug when trying to backup catalogs that exceed 4GB in size. Because the default uncompress tool shipped with Mac OSX cannot correctly handle such compressed large catalogs (Lightroom compressed it correctly), Lr 6.1 would leave those large backup catalogs not zip compressed. This is a Mac OSX only behavior.

You can follow step to do you own backup:
1) Optimize your catalog via Lightroom's File>Optimize Catalog... menu command.
2) Quit Lightroom.
3) Locate and find your catalog via Finder/Explorer.
4) Make a copy of the catalog via Finder/Explorer and zip compress it if you wish.
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John Woodman

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Simon - thanks for your reply. I'm using a PC, Windows 8.1, my catalog is 1.2 GB. I'm running LR6.1, but I've been having the stalling problems on exit ever since the introduction of CC2015. I will make a copy of my catalog using explorer as you suggest and try to start LR from that, then report back. I am away from my machine at the moment. I don't understand why you are suggesting compressing the copy - can you help me with that?
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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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Hi John,

If you're on windows, then you should be ok. Starting with Lr CC 2015, Lightroom would automatically zip the backed up catalog as part of the backup process. With zipping, the size of the final backed up (and zipped) catalog would be about 1/10 of the size of the catalog without zipping.