Lightroom CC: Syncing problem - need better failsafe protection?

  • 2
  • Question
  • Updated 2 months ago
  • (Edited)
I've just had a bad issue with my Lightroom CC library. I decided to run Lightroom Classic, as I wanted to update the folders in that to maintain a complete catalogue, but had left the sync running (I'm on the Lightroom CC 1TB plan, but had migrated from the Photography 20GB plan).

Turns out this is *very* bad. I have stopped it now, but not before losing some 60GB/6000 images from the library. It seems to have removed a large number of images, but from random parts of the library.

This seems like a very poor implementation, in that it is too easy to lose images accidentally, and there is no other way to restore them. Probably linking to the thread about using a Trash system, rather than immediate deletions. Of course if you leave it syncing, then it propagates across all devices quite quickly.

Calling the cloud storage a 'Backup' is a massive misnomer, it is not a backup, and you have to remember that mistakes made, will impact your library in a dramatic manner. I feel the system need to be more robust against accidental settings changes, or poor decisions on rejects etc.

Some albums are showing up with '0' images in them, but are easy enough to reimport, as I did keep my original Lightroom Classic catalogue intact, and haven't added too many images since migrating. I also have a secondary storage as an archive of all images imported in a standard folder structure. All are backed up on other drives too.

I now have to root through the entire library in Lightroom CC to find out which images are missing (if that's at all possible, or practical.

This has left me feeling I want to go back to Classic again, and sync only the Smart Previews again. I still have a set of backups for that too, so it would be easy enough to do in the mechanical respect.

If I was to consider migrating back to Lightroom Classic (switching back to the Photography 20GB plan), what would happen? Could I simply switch off CC and revert back again? (the original catalogue is still as it was before the migration, and I have updated it with newer images).

Any other suggestions for fixing this?

Cheers.
Photo of Andy Hewitt

Andy Hewitt

  • 73 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes

Posted 3 months ago

  • 2
Photo of Jon Anscher

Jon Anscher

  • 179 Posts
  • 22 Reply Likes
I second many of your comments. I didn’t have photos disappear luckily, instead I had a bunch of sync errors, but the only way to resolved them was go through and manually export (Or “Save to...” in CC) and then re-import them all. But I had to pay careful attention to which albums they were in, lest I lose those photos from all their albums. It was a huge pain, and I agree. It was very different from the advertising for Lightroom CC which as Andy mentioned, advertises itself as an always backed up solution.

There have been several other errors that have happened as well along the way, which have led me to, like Andy, maintain a separate backup, not connected to sync. Not to mention my local backups of the CC originals folder and the Classic folders which a are my secondary backup.

I’m also partly maintaining my Lightroom Classic backup because I’m not sure I want to stick with CC given how easy it is to screw up (potentially catastrophically) and never be able to recover the mistake. As well as the fear of being able to maintain and go back to find my photos at any point.
Photo of Andy Hewitt

Andy Hewitt

  • 73 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
Well, that's a lesson learnt. I have now cancelled the Lightroom CC 1TB account, and reverted to the 20GB Photography Plan.

I had maintained my old Classic catalogue and full set of original local storage drives and backups, so apart from a little updating for new imports for a few weeks, it was pretty simply to go back to Classic.

Of course it did mean deleting my entire collection of 500GB/55,000 images from the cloud storage. I now have to rebuild the comprehensive set of albums and folders I had built up in CC.

Still, it does mean I will end up with a more streamlined library of images in the cloud.

Photo of Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen

Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

  • 4427 Posts
  • 1638 Reply Likes
I'm trying to work out how that was even possible. If you deleted them in CC, they'd have just unsynced in Classic. If you'd unsynced them in Classic though, it would have removed them from the cloud. That is one of the biggest "gotchas" with trying to use CC and Classic together, and why it's not recommended unless you're fully aware of what can go wrong. Using CC on its own, and just backing up the originals folder with your own backup software is pretty stable.

That said, I completely agree that backup is very loosely defined, as it only protects against hardware failure but not against user error or software oddities. Trash has to be a priority.
Photo of Jon Anscher

Jon Anscher

  • 179 Posts
  • 22 Reply Likes
I use it now without sync, so even if the problem is fixed at this point, it would likely be too late anyway, as I manually export the photos from CC and import them into Classic. I’ve been doing that as a backup only, to save my file structure and so I have a place with the photos that I can trust in the event of user error in CC.

As for using Classic after migration, no. I waited for Sync to catch up (after migration, there was a bunch of back and forth syncing between the catalogs). I didn’t want to mess anything up, so I waited until using either.
Photo of Jon Anscher

Jon Anscher

  • 179 Posts
  • 22 Reply Likes
Like Andy, I’ll try to remember what I did. At first, I actually think I turned Sync off in Classic, before I read more about it (actually, I think it may have been a post from you, Victoria). I had done some work in CC since then. I then turned Sync back on in Classic, and both CC and Classic went crazy on updates. I remember thinking at one point that it seemed like they were competing with each other. One would sync a bunch, then the other would ramp up. But I trusted the process and let it happen.

Finally they stabilized. At that point, I began working again in CC. Then, when photos synced to LR Classic, I’d organize them into my folder structure. I’d then merge panos did some small edits on them, and put the keepers into a folder “From Classic.” So that I could then edit them in CC.

Eventually, as I was working, there were some initial sync errors. They were fine in Classic, but in CC, they has a red danger sign and said there was a sync error and the original was not backed up. I eventually found some instructions from Adobe, or perhaps from you, that told me to delete them from CC and re-import them. I did that slowly, re-adding them to albums as I did. As a result, those photos re-synced to Classic, so I now had duplicates there. I started deleting the original imports from Classic and placing the new CC imports into folders. But then the errors kept happening, and I turned off sync, because I didn’t want to have to do that with the entire library.

Now, I’m just hoping CC will get to the point that I feel comfortable enough to let go of Classic. Or, it won’t and eventually I’ll migrate my Classic library to something else, since I’ve been maintaining that manually. Although sadly, I will lose some of the edits I’ve made in CC if I ever do that. Basically any changes after exporting them from CC and importing them to Classic. So. I try not to do that until I fell done.
Photo of Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen

Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

  • 4427 Posts
  • 1638 Reply Likes
> Although sadly, I will lose some of the edits I’ve made in CC if I ever do that. Basically any changes after exporting them from CC and importing them to Classic. 

Not necessarily. You could Save To Original + Settings in CC, copy the files over to your Classic storage and Read Metadata From Files to pull in the changes. But hopefully it won't ever come to that.
Photo of Jon Anscher

Jon Anscher

  • 179 Posts
  • 22 Reply Likes
The problem with that is, I have my photos arranged into hundreds of nested folders in Classic, albums in CC. In order to retain that organization, I’d have to spend days exporting images album by album. And in CC, now some of those images are in multiple albums in that structure, which is cool, but means even if I exported them album by album, I’d end up with duplicates which when imported back into Classic or any other tool, would be identified as such and Potentially separated from their group. It would be a huge mess.

Although like you said, hopefully it never comes to that. But ever is a long time, and who knows what could happen between now and then.
(Edited)
Photo of Andy Hewitt

Andy Hewitt

  • 73 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
That's pretty much where I'm at right now, trying to rebuild the collection into CC having to sync and organise an albums/collection at a time.
Photo of Andy Hewitt

Andy Hewitt

  • 73 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
It's not with any images that had been removed by either software, but with new images that I'd imported into LR CC only, which Classic decided to remove. I'm guessing that's because Classic seems to have priority.

Like Jan I had been exporting from LR CC and importing into Classic. I thought that enabling sync might have made that process easier by letting the sync system import the originals from the cloud into Classic.

Obviously I got that wrong in part, as although that was actually happening, I'd forgotten about the older synced Collections I still had in Classic. I did get some of the newly imported CC images appearing in my Classic folders, but alongside other images being wiped from the cloud.

I can't really see any logical method to what was chosen to be downloaded, and what was chosen to be deleted.

I know you're right though, using LR CC without using Classic should be a solid and stable system.

However, I was finding there are too many missing features in CC, and the decision to abandon it for now wasn't really that hard to make. If we get to a point where there is a more comparable feature parity, I would love to go back to it.

Shame really, as I had just bought your LR CC book, too :-/.

The syncing system here does seem to break with normal shared database rules, and rather than use the most recent version of a database (or files contained within), it looks like it uses one source as a priority.

It's a difficult one for sure. Although the recommendations are to choose one over the other, it seems almost impossible to actually work to that. While I am uploading my collections to the cloud from Classic, I still need to use CC to manage the folder and album layout I want. Why on earth can't it sync folder/album structures - that would be very useful? It does it when you use Migrate of course.

And of course, there's the point that should this even have happened with an unsubscribed Classic? I thought syncing was disabled anyway! (along with Develop and maps etc.)

Photo of Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen

Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

  • 4427 Posts
  • 1637 Reply Likes
> new images that I'd imported into LR CC only, which Classic decided to remove

That's the one bit I'd expect to be rock solid. I'll flag it up for Adobe staff to see if they can find any clues.
Photo of Andy Hewitt

Andy Hewitt

  • 73 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
Thanks Victoria, although I can't do anymore testing now as I've reverted fully to using the Photography Plan and only syncing the Smart Previews.
Photo of Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen

Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

  • 4427 Posts
  • 1637 Reply Likes
That's fine Andy, but any clues you can offer about exact steps you took would be useful.
(Edited)
Photo of Andy Hewitt

Andy Hewitt

  • 73 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
Ok, I'll try to remember. Might help if I start at the beginning maybe.

  • I have been using Lightroom since v4, so my catalogue has been in use a while.
  • Upgraded from Lightroom 6 standalone to Lightroom Classic CC on the Photography Plan (20GB).
  • Tested the CC ecosystem, selecting folders to create Collections, and sync those to CC ecosystem.
  • Decided to migrate to Lightroom CC plan (1TB). Created a full set of Collections based on my folder layout, and migrated to Lightroom CC (after clearing the existing CC files synced from Classic). Migration went well.
  • Let Lightroom CC upload all the images to the cloud, and tidied up the folders and albums. Left Classic intact as it was (including all my 'Collections', some were still set to sync), sync was turned off during the migration and account switch.
  • Started using Lightroom CC, importing new images from SD card and upload from iPhone. All OK so far here.
  • Wanted to maintain a working backup in Classic, so started exporting (using 'Save To...') edited images from CC into Classic.
  • Tried to use Sync to see if it would download originals into Classic (using the Local Storage option), which it did for some, but not all.
  • Noticed in CC that there were empty Albums, and the total image count had reduced significantly (about 6,000 images gone).
  • Stopped syncing.
  • Attempted to re-import the missing images (from my backups), some were successful, easily found those in '0' found albums, but still missing almost 5,000 images.
  • Decided it was going to be very difficult to rebuild totally, so abandoned and switched back to the Photography Plan (20GB), and Classic.
It's definitely a bit of a puzzle, as although it was removing images from the cloud, it was at the same time building the Collections in the 'From Lightroom CC' Collection set. Checking these later only got error messages that the image were not available. So it synced them, created collections (matching the Albums in CC), then removed the originals from the cloud.

Hope that helps.

Anyway, lesson learnt, I'm sticking with Classic for now, and if I ever migrate to LR CC again, I won't be going back to Classic to muck about.
Photo of Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen

Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

  • 4427 Posts
  • 1638 Reply Likes
Thanks guys. The team at Adobe are reading.