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Alternatives to Lightroom and databases?

Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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The catalogue got corrupted. Zero messaging. It just hung on opening. At first I assumed it was the program so I uninstalled and reinstalled that. Then i got on a call with a support agent who talked me through trying to open it with a backup catalogue. This was quite an ordeal - it kept trying to open it with previous catalgues. In the end I deleted all catalogues including all backups except one backup which I renamed 'bananas' and after rebooting it opened with that catalogue. That took an hour of my time. (Just before this the Adobe agent abandoned the call - I assume he'd got exhausted by all this as well). Do people just accept that this sort of thing happens? For me  it is strange - i don't really have an hour here or there to give to this sort of thing.

 

It seems to me inevitable that a database is a weak link here and is going to get corrupted. I assume that Adobe is aware of that but there are strong reasons to have it. - But I would have thought some kind of message about "can't open the catalogue it is corrupt" would help.

 

(At one point it even tried to import a years old Adobe Elements catalogue which I never used!)

 

So - my first question is - can one use it without a catalogue? I use it with XMP files. If I understand it the edits are saved in there - so do i need a catalogue at all? Can i use it without? If not - at least if a catalogue is corrupt can i just import all my images and XMP files into a new clean catalogue and my edits will be preserved?

 

Second question - what are the alternatives - for good quality photoediting without a catalogue/database system?  I thought about Photo DXO but a cursory investigation suggests that it also has a database - which is also likely to be prone to corruption. I'm not anti Adobe - maybe I should just use Camera Raw and Photoshop? I am not sure how camera raw saves the edits? Hopefully not a database? Are they editable? and then further edits would be saved in (large) PSD files. 

 

Or any other programs (basically anything without a corruptible database).

 

Thanks!

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

Bridge plus Camera RAW is roughly equivalent to Lightroom, except you manually manage photos in the Finder/Explorer instead of Lightroom managing them. There are some features in Lightroom that aren't in bridge but the core features are similar.

Using a backup catalog shouldn't be a big deal. Just double-click the catalog file you want to use and Lightroom will open that file. The biggest issue there is making regular backups.

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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If you are going to use Lightroom Classic then your only alternative is to use a catalog because the only file Lightroom opens is the catalog. The catalog keeps track of where the images are located on your computer as well as all the adjustment's made to the images. The images themselves (the master images) are never modified. The only way to have a copy of the image that includes all of the adjustments is to export that copy. If using a catalog is not something you want to do then Lightroom Classic is not what you want to be using. I have found it necessary to restore a backup twice in the 10 years that I have been using LrC. The backup system has worked both times in my situation.

 

In my opinion, the best alternative in the Adobe products if you don't want to use Lightroom Classic would be to use Photoshop and the Camera Raw plug-in. It is a little more cumbersome for me, but others seem to prefer it.

 

If you try to run Lightroom Classic without a catalog (i.e. eliminate all catalogs), the first time you initiate LrC, you will be prompted to create a new catalog or choose an existing one. As I indicated previously, the only file LrC opens is the catalog.

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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Hi Jim

Yes - thanks. That seems to be it. It forces you to use its database system. Probably I am fussing too much but for me wasting one hour even every ten years is more than I would like. It should just work. - That is how I feel.

 

If it helps anyone else - the key to making the restore from back up work was renaming the backup file to something new and deleting the corrupt backup file and all its associated bits. 

 

Interestingly Camera Raw, launched from Photoshop, saves the edits in an XMP file and then remembers the next time I open the raw file. It also works with my Nikon NEF files directly. Camera Raw seems pretty full featured - including masking. So that does provide an alternative to the database problem. I think I will try this option for a bit.

 

One final point. I tested it - and if you create a new blank catalogue and import files which have XMP files Lightroom does also recognize the edits saved in the XMP files; so if you completely lose a catalogue this provides another way to recover your files. (Assuming you have enabled the XMP setting in preferences).

 

Thanks Jim

 

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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I don't understand your reference of waiting "one hour". All that is required is to unzip the backup and double-click on the catalog file and you are running. It only takes a few seconds. Incidentally, it is one of the options to have the catalog write changes to XMP files if that is something you prefer. I have never chosen to do that, but it IS an option that many users choose. How you work is up to you, and if Photoshop/Bridge/Camera Raw works better for you then go for it. I occasionally use that combination but prefer Lightroom Classic.

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Participant ,
Mar 02, 2023 Mar 02, 2023

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LATEST

 

Hi

The one hour was because a) there was no error message at all so at first I assumed that the issue was with Lightroom and uninstalled and installed that and b) when I understood it was the catalogue I still had problems restoring from my backup as mentioned in my origina post. I double-clicked the backup but Lightroom kept opening the original corrupt file. It seems the issue was that even though it was in a different folder the backup had the same name as the original file and this confused Lightroom. The support agent seemed familiar with this problem and advised me to rename the backup. I tried with a slight change (name+v2) but it still kept opening the original corrupt file.  On the advice of the support agent I then deleted all my backups and the original corrupted file and so I was left with just one - the backup I wanted to use. I renamed that to something completely new  - and finally Lightroom opened with it. It was all this that took the time. But, of course, this may have been some unusual glitch and for  most people maybe it is straightfoward. Thanks for your comments about Bridge,

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Community Expert ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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Bridge plus Camera RAW is roughly equivalent to Lightroom, except you manually manage photos in the Finder/Explorer instead of Lightroom managing them. There are some features in Lightroom that aren't in bridge but the core features are similar.

Using a backup catalog shouldn't be a big deal. Just double-click the catalog file you want to use and Lightroom will open that file. The biggest issue there is making regular backups.

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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yes - I will try that combination I think.

 

Just on a point of information - as per my original post - for me at least there are some defects in this database system. LR did not open and yet did not provide any information about what the problem was. The agent cheerfully said "oh it is showing a black bar at top of screen with the name of the catalogue and just hanging that means the catalogue is corrupt". But it doesn't actually say that. It is almost as if they just can't bring themselves to put up a message saying "catalogue is corrupt". Reputation management probably. Also - there seems to be a technical problem it gets confused if the backup file has the same name as the corrupted file - at least the agent said as much. Maybe it can be as simple as "just clicking here" but it wasn't for me and judging by the number of posts on this topic is not for a quite a lot of people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LEGEND ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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Asking for competitive alternatives to Lr, on the official Lr forum, really isn't on.

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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What do you mean "isn't on"?!

 

Actually to be fair I was motivated to do that when the Adobe agent cut my call.

 

But even without - why not?

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LEGEND ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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It seems to me inevitable that a database is a weak link here and is going to get corrupted. I assume that Adobe is aware of that but there are strong reasons to have it. - But I would have thought some kind of message about "can't open the catalogue it is corrupt" would help.

 

Its not a weak link. Regular and automated backups prevent data loss if the catalog is corrupted. So, to answer the question in your title, "alternatives to Lightroom and databases" is: lightroom and databases with regular and automated backups.

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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It seems that you also have not read the original post. One more time for the people who answer but don't read what they are answering - there was no message to say what the problem was and even when we pinned down that the catalogue was the problem there was still a problem that when I tried to restore from the backup it got confused with the corrupt file because they have the same names. 

 

Thanks to the people who did read my post and made helpful suggestions esp. re. Bridge and Raw.

 

Thanks.

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LEGEND ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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Restoring from a backup catalog should not be hard, should not take hours, more like 10 min. Not sure what was being done wrong, probably step 3

 

  1. Using your OS file manager, copy the backup from where it is, to the desired hard drive/folder. Preferably the backup is not on the same drive as working catalog.
  2. Using your OS file manager, unzip/uncompressed that backup.
  3. Using your OS file manager, double click on the catalog (do not start LrC via a startup shortcut icon, start by double clicking on the catalog)

 

 

Hung on opening, does that mean the splash screen never compilers, perhaps shows Reading Preferences?

 

  • Did the Adobe Tech attempt to reset the preferences file?
  • Have you attempted resetting the preferences file?

 

"can't open the catalogue it is corrupt'

 

  • Do you receive that message? or is it something you want to receive?

 

 

About backups, just in case

 

  • Any backup should not be on the same hard drive as the source. If that hard drive fails, then both original and backup are toast.
  • Their should be multiple backups on multiple devices/destinations
  • Backups can be on a physical hard drive, internal or external, they can be on a Server, a NAS, the cloud.
  • At least one backup should be on removable media that gets locked up somewhere (think theft)
  • Ideally, one backup should be either on external media that gets shipped far away, or on the cloud (think natural disaster) especially if this is a business.
  • Backup via LrC does not include the photos, the presets, the plug-ins

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Participant ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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Another one who answers posts without reading them! But I would have thought some kind of message about "can't open the catalogue it is corrupt" would help. = I didn't see this message. (would have thought is conditional mode - it is expressing modality, a wish).

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Community Expert ,
Feb 20, 2023 Feb 20, 2023

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quote

Do people just accept that this sort of thing happens? For me  it is strange -

By @justinw86398615

 

It’s more likely that it doesn’t happen to a lot of people. There are a number of users here who have been using Lightroom Classic since version 1.0 in 2007, and have never experienced a corrupt catalog. Sure, a database can be corrupted, but that doesn’t mean businesses think databases should not be used. This is not to deny there is a potential problem; the fact that Lightroom Classic has an Optimize Catalog feature means Adobe is aware that a database needs an integrity check once in a while. But many here would agree with you that it’s strange that the corruption happened to yours.

 

A database is integral to many nondestructive editors, because if you have to store the edits somewhere else than read-only raw files, then it has to go in a sidecar file or a catalog. Lightroom Classic supports both, but the catalog has the additional advantage of being able to store metadata about the relationships among multiple images. For example, a database makes it much easier to maintain information about collections, collection sets, collections synced to the web, slide shows, multi-photo print jobs, and so on.

 

You can drop the database by using Camera Raw with Adobe Bridge. Bridge is closer to a simple file browser; there is no user-maintained database. Raw edits are maintained through XMP files; you can see them appear after the first time you edit an image in Camera Raw. But because Bridge also supports collections and other multi-image features, it has to store that info somewhere, and it does that using database and cache files in folders that are either not user-exposed by default or simply hidden, and I think less centralized (not all in one place). Because of that, it’s more difficult to migrate Bridge work to another computer or restore from a backup, and for that reason I think it’s actually easier to lose settings or work that involves multiple images, such as a folder’s custom sort order. With Lightroom Classic, you just bring the catalog with you or restore it from a backup, and it’s all there.

 

There are a number of other options out there, but you probably want to ask on a non-Adobe photography forum for opinions of them (for one thing, the volunteers on this forum aren’t really supposed to recommend competing products). Just keep in mind that the same database vs. file browser tradeoffs exist out there for other nondestructive photo editors.

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