Elements: How do I re-link Catalog to photos after reinstall

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I had to perform a System Reset (retaining all my data but not apps) and have now reinstalled PSE.

However, when I open the Organizer I see no images.  My Photos are all still in My Pictures and My Catalog database information still appears to be in C:\Program Data\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\My Catalog.

What do I have to do to re-link the catalog to the photos in My Pictures?
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Martin Yeo

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Posted 2 weeks ago

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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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Have a look into the folder:
C:\Program Data\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\
to see if there is not another subfolder beside the one you are seeing.

We don't know if the System Reset has kept the old catalog folder or wiped it. A new install has created a new empty catalog, the one you are seeing now. If you don't find the old one, there is nothing to relink, you simply have lost your catalog.

Did you do a backup recently?
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Martin Yeo

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Thanks Michael. There is no other folder beside the one I am seeing.

After I wrote the post I worked though what I had done again and came to the conclusion you did. I think I lost my catalog during System Reset.

Before running System Reset I did a full backup using Win 10 File History. I understood it would back up all data files - including Program Data. But I've now discovered, too late, that System Reset considers Program Data to be part of the Programs it uninstalls. So my backup was not as "full" as I thought it was.

The last backup I did that would have included the catalog files would have been about 8 months ago, when I transferred PSE and all my photos from an old desktop to my current new one, and that one is gone too. However I checked my old desktop and the catalog files from that time are still there.

So my question now is whether it would be worth trying to transfer/apply the 8 month old catalog off my old desktop to the current My Photos folder on my new desktop, and if so how to do it. The main changes in catalog data during the last 8 months would have been to add more pictures to My Photos. I would not have done much additional tagging, face recognition, or other catalog type functions during this period. However, I may have moved some pictures around between folders, deleted others etc.

So would trying to load the old catalog files create more of a mess in terms of unlinked photos etc. than it's worth?  If I have to start again from scratch I'll do that, but on the other hand my catalog represents about 10 years of work, so I'm a bit reluctant to dump it if there's a reasonable chance I could rebuild the last 8 months of changes.















 
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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I think it may be worth trying to recover data from your old computer if:
- it is still working
- you still have the (old) Elements version working and able to create a full backup
- you have enough free space on your new computer.

With that backup, you could restore exactly the media files and catalogs on 'custom location' on a new master folder such as 'PicturesOld'.

An excellent feature of the 'Import' feature is that it is able to import all the files in a folder tree ('My Pictures' for instance) except the files already in the catalog. If all goes well, and you can check it on a test folder import, only the new pictures added since the old backup will be imported.

As a result, most of your old pictures will be duplicated on your drive, but not on your catalog.

How to get rid of the duplicates? Another excellent feature is the ability to sort your files by 'Import batch'. This way you can select the files imported in the previous step (the recent ones). You can also move all of them to a new master folder like 'PicturesNew'. You now have the files managed in your catalog in two master folders, 'PicturesOld' and 'PicturesNew'. The duplicates are in the 'My Pictures' tree. They can be deleted or archived elsewhere.

Of course, if you can't create  a full backup on your old computer, there is not much you can do now.
If you can, also use your new catalog to 'write metadata to files' to the recent files. That way, after the import, you'll recover tags, captions and ratings (not stacks, version sets or albums) for the new files.


(Edited)
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Martin Yeo

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That's encouraging. Perhaps not all is lost! My old desktop still works fine; just very slow.  It still has PSE on it and all my photos up to about 8 months ago. I started it up, opened the PSE Organizer and it still works just as it did then. My new desktop has a 2 TB hard disk of which only a tiny fraction is used, so no limitation there.

First I'm going to study your comments very carefully and see if I can write down in sequence each step I need to take. Then I'll give it a shot.

One more question. I use PSE8 which is still fine for my purposes. Even though quite old now I assume it has all the functionality referred to in your note?

Your knowledge and advice is greatly appreciated. If I don't mess up the process you may have given me a chance of avoiding the considerable pain of redoing several years' work.
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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One more question. I use PSE8 which is still fine for my purposes. Even though quite old now I assume it has all the functionality referred to in your note?
Yes, all versions since Elements 6 should work the same.
It would be a bit trickier with older versions which did not use the Sqlite database.
I have still  versions 6, 10, 12, 14,15 and 2018 installed and working in my Windows 10 computer.
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Martin Yeo

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Thanks Michel. I read your advice carefully and also looked through the PSE Organizer user manual.

The data on my old computer looks clean. I have the PSE app, the photos and the catalog (with no missing files).

One option appears to be just to copy the catalog from the old computer to the My Catalog folder on the new computer, then import into it the contents of My Photos on the new computer (set to exclude older photos that are already in the catalog). That would avoid the need for duplicate photos or more than one catalog, but I'm guessing may not be a good solution because any photos deleted or moved since PSE was moved to the new computer would show as missing files requiring re-connection or deletion.

So if I understand it correctly your suggestion would involve the following steps:
1. Backup both media and catalog on old computer
2. Import this complete backup on to the new computer to a custom location

At this point if there were no missing files in the catalog on the old computer there should still be no missing files after the full backup is imported to the custom location on the new computer.

3. Import the new photos (added since PSE was transferred to the new computer) into the catalog in the custom location
4. Select a suitable disposition for the duplicated pictures. Since I prefer to have only one catalog I suppose this could be simply to delete the contents of My Pictures

Is this about right?  If so, could I then move the photos and catalog back to standard default locations somehow (My Photos for the pictures; C:\\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs/My Catalog for the catalog)?

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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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So if I understand it correctly your suggestion would involve the following steps:
1. Backup both media and catalog on old computer
Yes
2. Import this complete backup on to the new computer to a custom location
More precisely, not import, 'restore' from the menu File >>  manage catalogs.

At this point if there were no missing files in the catalog on the old computer there should still be no missing files after the full backup is imported to the custom location on the new computer.
Yes. If there are missing files in the old catalog, the restored one will still have them (and still missing)

3. Import the new photos (added since PSE was transferred to the new computer) into the catalog in the custom location

Yes. The import process should reject all duplicates.

4. Select a suitable disposition for the duplicated pictures. Since I prefer to have only one catalog I suppose this could be simply to delete the contents of My Pictures
The idea is to solve the problem of duplicated pictures on your new drive. You have already the old pictures in your recent catalog together with the new ones. Then the 'restore' on custom location duplicates them in another folder tree with a new catalog. When you import in the restored catalog from the My Pictures tree, your catalog does not include duplicates; it refers to all the old pictures and the new ones. The only problem is that you are wasting disk space with your duplicates of old files. The final catalog is ok, but it does not know where are the duplicates.

The solution I have suggested is to recognize the imported files (from import batch) and to move them outside the 'My Pictures' folders. That means that the remaining files in that folder are all duplicates.

Another valid solution: since the new catalog is ok and ignores duplicates, you can create a full backup and restore somewhere: the resulting catalog and media file tree will be clean without the duplicates. It may be slower, but with the advantage of keeping the folder tree structure of the new files;  in the other solution, the 'move' will move all new files in a single folder.