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Apparent failure of external hard disk containing Lightroom catalog

Explorer ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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I have just experienced what seems to me to be a catastrophic failure of the external hard disk where I have my Lightroom catalog and photographs. I am unable to find the device in Finder (I am using a MacBook Pro laptop).

I still have on the Macbook screen the Lightroom application with the catalog and all the  thumbnails with an exclamation mark in the top right hand corner.  The files are greyed with a ?  If I click on a thumbnail  image in the single photo view I get the full image.

The device  (a Sandisk 4TB portable drive) is still connected to the laptop but as I say I cannot find it in Finder so cannot navigate what is on the drive.

Does it sound as though the drive has failed? And if I find a computer specialist who can retrieve what is on the drive, will I be able to restore the Catalog?

 

Any ideas will be very welcome.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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If the catalog drive had failed or would not be available for some other reason, then Lightroom would not have been able to open the catalog. So most likely you do have a drive problem, but -unknown to you- your catalog (and so the thumbnails) are located on your internal disk. That would explain what you see.

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Explorer ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Interesting. How do I find them? I have a very good Apple dealer here with technical support, perhaps they can find them? I was planning to go and see them to see if they can retrievw what is on the hard disk.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Interesting. How do I find them? I have a very good Apple dealer here with technical support, perhaps they can find them? I was planning to go and see them to see if they can retrievw what is on the hard disk.


By @johns490623


Start Lightroom and then go the Preferences. In the General tab you'll see the path to the catalog that Lightroom is currently using. You obviously do not have to retrieve it if it is located on your internal disk. 

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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LEGEND ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Do you have a recent backup of your catalog file?

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Explorer ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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It should be on the external hard drive which I cannot access. I regularly back up the catalog.

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LEGEND ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Okay, but the catalog file on the internal drive should be undamaged. You can still use that. If you have another working drive, I would copy the catalog to the other working drive for safe keeping in case of another drive failure.

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Explorer ,
Oct 20, 2023 Oct 20, 2023

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I have now managed to find the catalog file on the internal drive, as you have  correctly stated in your reply. Many thanks. I am now waiting for an appointment with a technician from our local Apple dealer as I think they will be able to help me. I have found the external hard drive using Disk Utility, I have run First Aid which has found that the drive does not have any errors which need fixing, and now I have found the catalog file so I think that there is hope that I can find my way out of the problem with some help from the technician.

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LEGEND ,
Oct 20, 2023 Oct 20, 2023

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Okay, that's great news! Make sure you have a backup that is not on the failed (?) external drive, make a copy of the catalog file to some other drive.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 20, 2023 Oct 20, 2023

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Always good to hear that this might have a happy ending!

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Community Expert ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Is the drive an exFAT formatted drive? Was it accidentally disconnected?

 

If it is fsck is running and hijacked the drive.. 

I can't find the main post I've used in the past, but this one still covers it: 

https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/268998/external-hard-drive-wont-mount

 

 

Sean McCormack. Author of 'Essential Development 3'. Magazine Writer. Former Official Fuji X-Photographer.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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The device  (a Sandisk 4TB portable drive) is still connected to the laptop but as I say I cannot find it in Finder so cannot navigate what is on the drive.

By @johns490623

 

Have you tried to inspect the drive using Disk Utility, which is included with your Mac? Sometimes, a volume that doesn’t show up in the Finder can be seen by Disk Utility. If it shows up in Disk Utility, do not format/partition it because that will erase everything on it. Instead, select it and click the First Aid button, and see if Disk Utility can find a problem and repair it.

 

If Disk Utility can’t repair it, or if it doesn’t even show up in Disk Utility, that is a problem. Sometimes it isn’t the drive, but a failed cable or port; in case the fix is that easy try connecting through a different cable or port. If everything so far doesn’t help, the chance of you being able to fix it might not be good; you might have to restore from a backup of that drive.

 

Is it a SanDisk Extreme V2 specifically? Because then you might want to look into whether it’s affected by the widely reported problems with sudden failures of that model, and whether the firmware fix can repair it. More info:

We just lost 3TB of data on a SanDisk Extreme SSD

SanDisk’s silence deafens as high-profile users say Extreme SSDs still broken

 

If your SSD is not a Sandisk Extreme V2, it might be a different issue.

 

An Apple Specialist may or may not be able to help with a non-Apple external SSD. If they offer affordable data recovery, then take it of course. But my understanding is that these things are typically handled by specialized and expensive data recovery companies, and that it’s more difficult to recover data from an SSD than a hard drive; it’s critical to maintain current backups.

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Explorer ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Thanks for your post.I found the drive in Disk Utility, and ran First Aid. It quickly did what it does and I see no difference. It dod not find anything wrong, at least. So I imagine it gave it a clean bill of health.

It is a SanDisk Extreme 55AF Media 4TB. I have looked at your links, very interesting.

I feel I am getting closer to identifying the problem. Many thanks.


John Speed
[Personal data removed by moderator. You don't want spam or phishing!]

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Community Expert ,
Oct 19, 2023 Oct 19, 2023

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Did you already tried rebooting your computer? Sometimes that is enough to show a disk that does not mount.

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Explorer ,
Oct 20, 2023 Oct 20, 2023

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Yes, I tried rebooting, but it has not managed to make the external disk mount.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 20, 2023 Oct 20, 2023

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You didn't answer my question on exFAT drives.. If you look at the link in that post it'll let you see if fsck, the disk check app is running and hijacking your drive. 

Sean McCormack. Author of 'Essential Development 3'. Magazine Writer. Former Official Fuji X-Photographer.

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LEGEND ,
Oct 20, 2023 Oct 20, 2023

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I used to work for Apple as a Mac Genius and its always tough to explain to someone that their data is gone. Make a habit of doing backups (your tech should be able to help you with that.)

If the data can't be retrieved, a company called DriveSavers is the gold standard of data recovery. They aren't cheap but they are the best fallback option. https://drivesavers.co/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiui-8bSFggMVCP_jBx33pQUgEAAYAiAAEgJqJfD_BwE

 

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Explorer ,
Oct 21, 2023 Oct 21, 2023

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Thanks very much for the valuable link. I hope I don’t need to use it, but it’s good to have it if I do!



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