Lightroom catalog suddenly disappeared

New Here ,
Aug 03, 2017 Aug 03, 2017

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So the other night before bed I went to shut down my computer, closed Lightroom and it prompted me to backup, so I did (I always backup when prompted weekly). Next day I fire up the PC, open Lightroom and it's completely empty and starts the tutorial (where the arrows point important sections) as if I had first opened it. The library was completely empty and the catalogue disappeared. I looked in my Lightroom folder (Pictures>Lightroom) opened the catalogue inside and it's empty. I contacted support, they took remote control of my PC and tried to open a backup catalogue, but the most recent backup is from January, and after searching my whole system for a .lrcat file the support advisor just told me that it has gone for good and they couldn't help any further. All the collections photos are still synced to lightroom mobile and web, so I can access them on there, but the desktop catalogue is gone and when opening my old one it will resync with mobile and ill loose all the edits.

I have tried everything I can think of, but how can a catalogue just disappear with 8 months worth of backups?

I'm currently running a disk recovery programme to see if I can recover anything that's been deleted (not by me)

Has anyone else had this issue, and know of anything I can do to recover my catalogue?

I'm using the latest version of Windows 10 and my Lightroom CC is updated to the most current 2015 version.

Thanks

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 18, 2018 Nov 18, 2018

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No, I scoured my many drives looking for the hiding place Lightroom chose to arbitrarily save my backup files to. I know what to search for. I finally this morning looked at a NeoFinder catalog I had done of the departed drive and noticed (as I had suspected), Lightroom had indeed been saving more recent backups to the same drive as my primary catalog. Again, why save them to my backup drive for a year and then default on its own to save to the same drive as the original? It must have happened after an update at some point and I hadn’t noticed.  Does anyone know if there’s a way to download the photos I have synced to Mobile so I can have a copy of the collections I made? I know they wouldn’t be the original raw photos, but it’s nice to have the collections to look at on mobile devices and I will never have time to rebuild them all.  I know they will all be erased if I try to sync a new library going forward.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 08, 2018 Dec 08, 2018

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Had a similar (or perhaps the same) problem. The catalog on the hard drive has disappeared. The only backups I can find are one from 6 months ago and one from last year, in spite of doing a Lightroom backup every week.

It seems to have happened after I created a new catalog on an external drive and imported a lot of photos into that new catalog.

I have lost about 6 months of work on photos.  The original raw files are on my disk - just not the Lightroom catalog, and so reimporting the photos to a new catalog (or the empty one that Lightroom now offers me) does not restore any of my edits.

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Explorer ,
Jun 02, 2019 Jun 02, 2019

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Well, it's months from the last post in this thread  (Dec 2018) but I've just experienced the same thing - updated LR, catalog gone, new empty one in it's place and hard drive folders empty. (sigh) I'm truly at a loss but not as bad as some of the other folks here.

If any of you have found any useful information and would care to share it, I'd gladly read it.

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New Here ,
May 03, 2020 May 03, 2020

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I had the exact same problem but it's been solved! I lost heart after reading this thread because a lot of people had turned to Adobe support to no avail. I contacted them in the end and the issue was fixed.

 

I initially thought I'd lost 3 months worth of edits, deletions and previews on over 2,000 photos (all the raws were still safe where I'd left them) after an update. All of my work and backups had just vanished as if they'd never existed. I had 2 remaining catalogs left on my PC; one with old pictures from last year and one with miscellaneous photos from even longer ago. Adobe support took control of my computer and copied the misc catalog to my desktop, relaunched Lightroom and all of my 2,000 pictures were there with their edits! Turns out that the previews file was full. Simple as that.

 

I hope this helps someone.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 02, 2019 Jun 02, 2019

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I'd find all these posts a lot more credible if people said, "this specific folder is where I keep my Lightroom catalog, and this specific folder is where I keep my image files". The general impression here is that things are just dumped somewhere on the computer without any idea where it goes.

As has been pointed out countless times, there is nothing in Lightroom that will just "delete" a catalog file. On the contrary, the application is designed to protect the catalog, and protect your image files.

But you have to know where it is. You have to have a logical folder structure that you're able to navigate in.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 16, 2019 Oct 16, 2019

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Uh, no. I know exactly how all my folders are organized and I know exactoly where the LR catalog and backups live... or used to. LR crashed catastrophically to the point of requiring a Windows reboot, and when the system came back up the LR catalog was empty and the backup catalog did not exist. A system file search revealed nothing... those files are GONE.

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New Here ,
Nov 18, 2019 Nov 18, 2019

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Whether or not it should happen it does happen. I know exactly where my catalog file is maintained. It is on a cloud drive. My program locked. I rebooted it and the catalog is gone and no searching using very effective apps will find it. 

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LEGEND ,
Nov 18, 2019 Nov 18, 2019

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All the collections photos are still synced to lightroom mobile and web, s

Did you perhaps sync your Lightroom Classic catalog to Lightroom (as in cloud)?

 

But odd that your backups are missing

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LEGEND ,
Nov 18, 2019 Nov 18, 2019

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tried to open a backup catalogue, but the most recent backup is from January

1. Where do you keep your catalog, what drive?

 

2. Where do you place your backup, what drive?

 

Hopefully inquiry 1 and inquiry 2 have different answers.

 

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New Here ,
Mar 16, 2020 Mar 16, 2020

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-deleted so as to reply to thread not just this post

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New Here ,
Mar 16, 2020 Mar 16, 2020

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I'd like to echo something similar to hucksterville said back in 2018.

I've experienced a lost/corrupt catelogue in the past, so intentionally set it up in a file structure I understood, and backed up manually alongside Adobe backups. 

Now today, fortunately only a week after my past backup, something goes funky with lightroom, so I force quit and also restart after other applications experience the same funky stuff.

After restart, the catelogue is gone. I know exactly what folder it should be in. Windows says last modified was only minutes beforehand. But the folder is empty.

The automated backups were on a different drive. I also know that folder's location. That folder also was last modified when I last used lightroom, and that folder is also empty. 

My only remaining copies of that catelogue are the manual ones I made myself. 

There is something that Lightroom is capable of doing (whether intentional or not) that can result in it nuking its own catelogues and backups. From my experience (this is the second time such a thing has happened to me) it tends to be when the application is closed not on its own terms. But sometimes you can't avoid that.

These catelogues represent hundreds of hours of work and for some people monetary investment, and for all traces of them to vanish, to seemingly quite a number of people, suggests it is far more than "user error" and "bad sectors" and it is very unhelpful for the official tech support answer to be "that's not how it works you screwed up there's no recourse". I knew where I was looking and there isn't a way that sectors on two different drives corrupted at the same moment. Those folders were accessed, seemingly to delete or corrupt their contents.

Therefore, I also mirror hucksterville in saying that the only way to protect against the possibility of Lightroom nuking your catelogues is to do your own backups, in a place far away from what it recognises

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New Here ,
May 03, 2020 May 03, 2020

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SOLVED!!

 

I'm trying to reply to this thread in general but it's only letting me reply to specific messages which is really irritating.

 

I had the exact same problem but it's been solved! I lost heart after reading this thread because a lot of people had turned to Adobe support to no avail. I contacted them in the end and the issue was fixed.

 

I initially thought I'd lost 3 months worth of edits, deletions and previews on over 2,000 photos (all the raws were still safe where I'd left them) after an update. All of my work and backups had just vanished as if they'd never existed. I had 2 remaining catalogs left on my PC; one with old pictures from last year and one with miscellaneous photos from even longer ago. Adobe support took control of my computer and copied the misc catalog to my desktop, relaunched Lightroom and all of my 2,000 pictures were there with their edits! Turns out that the previews file was full. Simple as that.

 

I hope this helps someone.

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New Here ,
Mar 20, 2020 Mar 20, 2020

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I'm also having the same issue. 90% of my images have disappeared, leaving greyed out boxed. My ideas on what to do would be very helpful

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New Here ,
Oct 14, 2020 Oct 14, 2020

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I have encountered the same problem after the new update.

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New Here ,
Oct 14, 2020 Oct 14, 2020

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I have encountered the same problem after the new update

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New Here ,
Oct 14, 2020 Oct 14, 2020

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SOLVED!!

 

I'm trying to reply to this thread in general but it's only letting me reply to specific messages which is really irritating.

 

I had the exact same problem but it's been solved! I lost heart after reading this thread because a lot of people had turned to Adobe support to no avail. I contacted them in the end and the issue was fixed.

 

I initially thought I'd lost 3 months worth of edits, deletions and previews on over 2,000 photos (all the raws were still safe where I'd left them) after an update. All of my work and backups had just vanished as if they'd never existed. I had 2 remaining catalogs left on my PC; one with old pictures from last year and one with miscellaneous photos from even longer ago. Adobe support took control of my computer and copied the misc catalog to my desktop, relaunched Lightroom and all of my 2,000 pictures were there with their edits! Turns out that the previews file was full. Simple as that.

 

I hope this helps someone.

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LEGEND ,
Oct 14, 2020 Oct 14, 2020

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What preview file? The library preview files? Or the Develop preview file, i.e. the Camera RAW CACHE?

 

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New Here ,
Oct 15, 2020 Oct 15, 2020

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I'm not sure, that's just what the Adobe guy told me. He remoted into my computer and solved the issue, sorry I can't be more specific than that.

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New Here ,
Mar 22, 2021 Mar 22, 2021

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I have read all through this thread. I just updated LR CC to 10.2 After the update my LR catalog is gone. I know where it was (on an external DAS drive). Both the lrcat and backup files are gone. I have a backup and that is being restored, lost only a single day's work but it does indeed happen.

 

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New Here ,
May 14, 2021 May 14, 2021

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Two days ago, this file disappearance mystery happened to me. I could not find my cataloue anywhere and my presets are gone too. I guess I will just have to create a new catalogue. 

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New Here ,
May 14, 2021 May 14, 2021

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I got a hint from one of the posts which said that her Lightroom file being full was the cause for its disappearance and Adobe Support did some restorations. Well, I searched for my catalogue, using File Explorer. I wrote the catalogue name on the search line and indicated PC as the place to search from. File Explorer found the catalogue. I clicked on it and Voila, I got my lightroom back. 

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Explorer ,
Sep 19, 2021 Sep 19, 2021

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I just had this happen yesterday out of nowhere. Catalog file just GONE. I can see another catalog file from an earlier library I was using to transition some files from another machine, but my main library catalog is just GONE. No reason. And the Time Machine backups I've looked at so far are corrupted according to Lightroom and cannot be recovered. This is now setting me back at least a week in working time and deliverables to clients relying on my to sell their $35MM+ in real estate, cancelled vacation with wife and friends this week... unbelievable.

 

All the other supporting catalog files from the library are still there, but the LRC catalog backups end in May (it's September, no idea where the other backups are?!?) and now I'm running virus software on 5MM+ files (4.3MM searched so far) before running disk warrior or other apps to confirm the health of the drive (M1 MBP purchased in May b/c Adobe's software was a complete MESS on my MP 5,1 after the November '20 update to LRC10 and PS22). 

 

I have no other problems so far with my machine, but over a month's worth of time lost in the past year to problems introduced by Adobe. HORRIBLE software. I may go back to an old version and stop paying for this rented malware, but that will cost weeks and a lot of money on drives to go back to an earlier version of LRC. Unreal. 

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 03, 2021 Oct 03, 2021

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I had this problem, thought everything was lost as I couldn't get all my files to show up: then realized I had closed the sidebars.  Everything was still there, I just couldn't see it.  Figured this out after spending a long time opening catalogs and searching.

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New Here ,
Oct 11, 2021 Oct 11, 2021

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This just happened to me and I think I know why.  My computer was running low on memory and I noticed LR would be slow to load the next picture when browsing...the new picture would be selected but the old picture would display on the screen, or it would be a blank picture.  I force quit all of my browsers to free up memory but it didn't help, so I closed Lightroom and restarted my computer, opened LR and found that it had reverted to my most recent backup which was 6 months ago.  So I think LR detected an error/corrupt catalog due to low memory and immediately replaced the "bad" catalog with the most recent good backup, then deleted the current catalog and every backup of that catalog that it wasn't sure was good or not.  From now on what you need to do is manually back up your catalog by copying the .LRCAT to an external HD or flash drive.  

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New Here ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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I will avoid details. I would just like to share my experience of a problem that happened today. Perhaps this can help someone who is panicking in a similar situation.

My Lightroom (Very old version. Not LRC yet) started working very slowly. I thought it was some memory problem on my Windows 7. So I turned off Lightroom and then turned off the computer as well.

When I turned the computer and Lightroom back on, my catalog was gone.

But I remembered that it was exactly the same thing that happened a few years ago, when my catalog also disappeared: Lightroom running too slow, me turning off Lightroom, then the PC, etc.

So here's what I think happened: Sometimes we close Lightroom, but if we click crtl + Alt + Delete to open the Task Manager, we can see in Processes that it's still running. In fact, it's usually pretty much stuck. And then we have to end the process manually.

But I didn't do that on that first occasion, just as I didn't do that on this second occasion either. Instead, I quickly turned off the computer. And I believe my specific problem had this cause. It was like unplugging the computer with a problematic Lightroom open. Something I can't explain happened. In my case, this was almost certainly the cause. Something was wrong with Lightroom, which ran very slowly, and I turned off the PC before Lightroom was properly closed. And then something got corrupted.

So just be careful about that. Although I don't know if such a thing would happen in new versions of Lightroom.

(By the way, I found my backups were where they were supposed to be)

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