Can I access photoshop elements from multiple devices?

New Here ,
Aug 14, 2020 Aug 14, 2020

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I work in two different locations seasonally. If I download photoshop elements can I access it on up to 4 different devices in two different locations?

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Community Expert ,
Aug 14, 2020 Aug 14, 2020

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Download:

The PSE software is available to be installed and run on a computer (no other types of devices such as tablets).

You get the installer file either by download (only solution from Adobe directly) or on a DVD (from big Web resellers).

Licence

The license is for a single user.

Install

The installer, download or DVD can install the software itself on any number of computers.

Activation

To be able to run a given computer, you have to 'activate' the link with the licensing server from the menu Help >> sign in. 
You are allowed to 'activate' two computers, typically a desktop and a laptop at the same time, but you should not use them at the same time (single user license)

If you have already activated two computers and want to activate a third one, you have to deactivate (menu Help >> Sign out) one of the already activated computers.

 

So, the answer is that you can have your four computers with the program installed with your downloaded or DVD installer.

You can have two of those activated at the same time.

You can switch the activation for two computers in the same location.

But you are not allowed to use or let other users use two activated computers at the same time.

 

Sharing of your media and catalogs:

You can backup and restore your catalogs and media from the organizer, which allows keeping copies on various computers as well as allowing to migrate your data and organization from one computer to a new one.

In your case (just like me), I would store the catalog AND media files on an external drive which I can plug in to any activated computer without having to do anything else.

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New Here ,
Sep 06, 2021 Sep 06, 2021

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Greetings I understand the concept for external drive for Elements organizer on two devices.

I think there are some tricks to make sure it stays synced.

My main goal

Desktop or laptop adding photos

And tags 

that I only need to tag one system

and if external is plugged into the other system all newly tagged added photos will be available with their respective tags on the other system when I move the external drive to the laptop or desktop.

 

 

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Sep 07, 2021 Sep 07, 2021

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Greetings I understand the concept for external drive for Elements organizer on two devices.

I think there are some tricks to make sure it stays synced.

My main goal

Desktop or laptop adding photos

And tags 

that I only need to tag one system

and if external is plugged into the other system all newly tagged added photos will be available with their respective tags on the other system when I move the external drive to the laptop or desktop.


By @george.cummings1

To be precise, there is no 'syncing' in the process. Your catalog and photo/video files are always updated and available to the computer to which the drive is presently plugged in.

 

'Syncing' would mean that a copy of the catalog and files would be updated when you plug in the external drive. If you want to keep  copy of the catalog and the photos updated in two computers, the solution offered by the organizer is to backup the catalog of the first computer to the external drive and to restore it on the second computer. That takes time, but that's a valid choice if you change computers only a couple of times in a year.

 

Real 'syncing' with external tools like Microsoft Synctoy is a different matter. Let's say you start with a backup and restore from the main computer to the external drive. The external syncing tool is apt to update the photo/video files as well as the catalog folder on the second computer. That works well and much faster than a backup/restore, but there is a trap: the 'synced' catalog folder does not point to the files in the new computer, it still points on those on the first computer. All files are 'disconnected' and reconnecting a whole library is hardly possible in the organizer (it would be easy with Lightroom). You would have to fiddle into the database with an sql utility.

 

The 'syncing' problem would be the same with a Cloud solution like Dropbox or OneDrive instead of an external drive. No problem to sync the photo files, same problem with the catalog folder.

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Explorer ,
May 15, 2022 May 15, 2022

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Hi all,

 

I would like to take on this topic again trying a deep analysis of the options at hand. I am in the same situation as described: A large workstation laptop at home and as very small laptop for travelling; of course with both I would like to be able to use / work on my photo library.

 

1. Built-in support: There seems to be no convenient built-in solution for this requirement within in Elements, so only workarounds are possible. The backup/restore function comes closest, but is definitely not meant to be used on a day-by-day-basis.

 

2. External storage (e. g. USB stick or micro SD card), as mentioned by @MichelBParis:

(a) Advantages: Pretty straight forward solution, no internet connection / sync necessary.

(b) Disadvantages:

(i) Additional hardware component, i. e. bulky if it is a USB stick (compared to an online/sync solution), requires a free USB port or a card slot and additional invest is needed (significant compared to Elements licence cost especially if photo lib is several hundred GB).

(ii) If forgotten at home, no chance of working when travelling.

(iii) More focus on backups needed as external storages appear to have a higher failure rate and are easier lost (encrypt the storage).

(iv) Performance loss compared to working on the internal SSD.
(v) Path name on both devices needs to be identical, if only catalog ist stored on the external storage.

 

3. A proper synctool:

(a) Advantages: Pretty convenient solution.

(b) Disadvantages:

(i) Absolute paths need to be 100% the same (incl. drive letter) for both PCs.

(ii) Broadband Internet connection required for updates.

(iii) Working at the same time on the catalog can be dangerous (e. g. workstation at home is working through facial recognition of 10'000 photos after vacation and during next day travel I would like to modify some photos).

 

4. NAS / online storage (cloud)

(a) Advantages: Pretty convenient solution.

(b) Disadvantages:

(i) Own infrastructure / costly (again, compared to Elements licence costs when coming close to a 1 TB lib) 3rd party solutions needed.

(ii) Broadband Internet connection required for updates.

 

5. Remote desktop connection:

(a) Disadvantages:

(i) Compression of the screen content does not seem to be adequate for digital image processing.

(ii) Both computers need to be running all the time.

(iii) Broadband Internet connection required.

 

 

My questions:

I. Sync solution: @MichelBParis: I noticed your "trap: the 'synced' catalog folder does not point to the files in the new computer, it still points on those on the first computer". I think, the synced catalog contains absolute paths (starting with C/D/E:\...) but does not contain any identifier of the PC itself. Given the absolute paths on both laptops are 100% identical, this trap should not be present, should it?

II. Sync solution: Which synctool do you think is most suited here (MS Synctoy seems to discontinued, in my eyes a solution to be put in place now shouldn't rely on legacy tools)?

III. Cloud: Would Elements work at all if catalog and media were stored in e. g. OneDrive?

IV: Anything else worth to mention in this context that is not listed here?

V: Which one would you finally recommend?

 

Many thanks in advance for your support!

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Community Expert ,
May 15, 2022 May 15, 2022

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My questions:

"I. Sync solution: @MichelBParis: I noticed your "trap: the 'synced' catalog folder does not point to the files in the new computer, it still points on those on the first computer". I think, the synced catalog contains absolute paths (starting with C/D/E:\...) but does not contain any identifier of the PC itself. Given the absolute paths on both laptops are 100% identical, this trap should not be present, should it?"

On the contrary, beside the full path starting with the drive letter, the catalog database manages a 'volume_table' including the internal serial number of the drive as well as the letter and the volume name. I know how to use an external sqlite database management tool to manually update those info, which is very fast, but a bit tricky and not realistic for most typical PSE users.

"II. Sync solution: Which synctool do you think is most suited here (MS Synctoy seems to discontinued, in my eyes a solution to be put in place now shouldn't rely on legacy tools)?"

Windows has another current syncing tool and forum friends do use free equivalents. I'll try to find those references. For me, syncing is mainly an additional backup process.

"III. Cloud: Would Elements work at all if catalog and media were stored in e. g. OneDrive?"

There has been a number of discussions about OneDrive or similar. The trap here is that there is a two levels processing. Elements does not work 'in the cloud', it relies on computer system folders to catalog files, and OneDrive does manage the syncing. So, even if your catalog (or a strict copy) is on OneDrive, it points to the files in the computer folders. If you open the catalog on the cloud from a different synced computer, it will point to the original computer (which is not in line... all files will be disconnected).

In practice, such Cloud solution are handy for sharing files, not to manage catalogs.

"IV: Anything else worth to mention in this context that is not listed here?"

I think that a big part of PSE users have already migrated to a single powerful laptop.

On the other hand, for the increasing demand on Cloud software and hosting, Adobe offers a reasonably featured and priced Lightroom Cloud solution.

So, there is no very realistic solution to be expected from Elements and the organizer apart from backup and restore (rare migrations in the year) or from using an external drive for both the library and the catalog. By the way, it's probably the cheapest and safest solution with a good backup scheme (eventually using Syncing and/or Cloud backups).

"V: Which one would you finally recommend?"

I have chosen to store catalog and media on a 1 TB SSD external drive. As a matter of fact, the processing speed depends mainly on the amount of your RAM and your scratchdisk.

 

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Explorer ,
May 19, 2022 May 19, 2022

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On the contrary, beside the full path starting with the drive letter, the catalog database manages a 'volume_table' including the internal serial number of the drive as well as the letter and the volume name. I know how to use an external sqlite database management tool to manually update those info, which is very fast, but a bit tricky and not realistic for most typical PSE users.

By @MichelBParis

 

Thank you! If I understand this thread correctly, I suggest the other way round: Changing the "internal serial number" / "volume ID" keep drive letter and volume name the same and the catalog should work on both volumes, shouldn't it?

 

So, given this solution is back in the game, the sync thing remains. I assume it is going to work quite well, if the catalog is strictly handled in read-only - correct? But is that possible at all as Elements does a lot "intrinsically" / without the control of the user, even if it has not been started. So I would assume that syncing conflicts of the catalogs are likely to appear sooner than later - can anybody confirm or wipe away this concern?

 

Thank you very much in advance!

 

P.S.: I am already on my way with the external drive (but still looking for better solutions, which is the reason for this post), bought a micro sd card, did the backup and restore thing and found out, that the progress counter of Elements when doing backup and restore is as non-linear as it used to be with Win 3.11 - in case anybody remembers. 😉 Unfortunately not the only outdated experience...

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Community Expert ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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quote

On the contrary, beside the full path starting with the drive letter, the catalog database manages a 'volume_table' including the internal serial number of the drive as well as the letter and the volume name. I know how to use an external sqlite database management tool to manually update those info, which is very fast, but a bit tricky and not realistic for most typical PSE users.

By @MichelBParis

 

Thank you! If I understand this thread correctly, I suggest the other way round: Changing the "internal serial number" / "volume ID" keep drive letter and volume name the same and the catalog should work on both volumes, shouldn't it?

 

So, given this solution is back in the game, the sync thing remains. I assume it is going to work quite well, if the catalog is strictly handled in read-only - correct? But is that possible at all as Elements does a lot "intrinsically" / without the control of the user, even if it has not been started. So I would assume that syncing conflicts of the catalogs are likely to appear sooner than later - can anybody confirm or wipe away this concern?

 

Thank you very much in advance!

 

P.S.: I am already on my way with the external drive (but still looking for better solutions, which is the reason for this post), bought a micro sd card, did the backup and restore thing and found out, that the progress counter of Elements when doing backup and restore is as non-linear as it used to be with Win 3.11 - in case anybody remembers. 😉 Unfortunately not the only outdated experience...


By @Neb1

 

Follow up to my previous answer...

We are still in the situation where we have 'moved' (actually duplicated) the desktop media file trees and the catalog folder to an external USB drive via backup and restore. We have started using the external solution to add and edit many files. Why not using a 'syncing' solution to update both the media files trees and the catalog on the desktop? That should be much faster than a full backup and restore.

The problem, as stated earlier, is that even if the files tree is fully updated, the contents of the catalog now point to the locations on the shared drive.

The only reconnection solution offered by the organizer is unfortunately not realistic for a big and complex library. Even with guiding the many necessary reconnections, that generally results on a very slow reconnection process and generally only partly done. No easier solution like what is offered with Lightroom.

 

So, let's examine your new solution:

"I suggest the other way round: Changing the "internal serial number" / "volume ID" keep drive letter and volume name the same and the catalog should work on both volumes, shouldn't it?"

 

Yes, that's what I am doing through external sqlite updating of the catalog. I update the catalog database on the desktop, and now it does point to the synced files on the desktop. Unfortunately, while some advanced IT users will be at ease with using the sqlite utility, that means understanding a bit of the catalog architecture and being careful to sync the media files in the exact same folder tree organization. Many traps like ending with two drives in the same volume_table with the same internal number as a result of cloning... That's why I don't see how Adobe could provide a new reconnection feature which would be foolproof in many situations.

 

That said, I am very happy to combine media files syncing with database volume updating. I have done it for years without any unexpected results. Logically, I am using this as a fast backup solution, on different external drives and even on the two (or more) desktops/laptops I am using alternatively.

 

There has been a relatively older discussion where it has been suggested a relatively easier solution to solve the volume internal serial number problem.

Instead of updating the sqlite catalog, you could fool it to point to a new drive to which you have assigned (via Windows) the same internal serial number as the source. You need to know how to retrieve the internal serial number and how to assign a new one to an existing drive (no sqlite manager needed).

I am using additional external drives to sync with my shared external one. Imagine my shared drive disappears. I could assign its internal volume serial number to the already synced other drive. I'll have to test it to confirm.

 

My original information data from John R Ellis

https://johnrellis.com/psedbtool/#_Writing_File_Metadata

 

(see getting serial number and assigning new serial number).

 

 

 

 

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Community Expert ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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@Neb1 

Where to store your catalog folder and your photo/media files 'externally'?

I did not mean on a SD card nor on a USB stick, even if that would work for a small library. It's the same for the external media to be used for backups: the most used solution apart from Cloud or Network is to use a small external USB drive (conventional or SSD).

For instance, a 50€  conventional drive for 1 TB is all I need for my 800 GB library.

- for safety, I need to store my backup folder on a different device than on the one with the mater library. I have a separate USB drive for that. Otherwise, I could use Cloud or network solutions.

- I need a different USB drive to store the current catalog folder and the media files folders externally and plug it alternatively. I have chosen an  SSD external drive which is a bit more expensive, but smaller and easier to carry with a laptop. I don't really see the difference in speed because what is important here is your RAM size and your scratch disk choice.

 

How to get what I call your 'library' (media/photo/video files folders) together from your main desktop to the external drive?

Do a full backup to a new backup folder, logically on the separate external USB drive reserved for that purpose. If you don't have such an external drive, create a dedicated folder on your desktop if you have enough space.

- Do a restore from that backup folder to the final common/shared external drive, in custom location. My advice is to create a master folder just under the root of the drive. Now, keep in mind that you have not moved, but copied/replicated the catalog/library on your desktop. It's still there and can be kept as a kind of backup, knowing that both that there is no 'Sync' no 'update' of one from the other. Or you can delete the original catalog/library to recover disk space.

- Be sure to set Windows to recognize the shared external drive with the same letter.

 

What's the advantage of sharing alternatively the same catalog and files over 'syncing'?

None of the alternative syncing solutions you have stated in your previous posts do work for me. I assume it's generally true for other users, but I am not competent enough to find a way to make them work.

I don't know myself of any way to 'sync' two installations in real time. Doing a full backup and restore is possible, but in my case, that requires many hours of night processing and twice the time of a simple full backup.

Real 'syncing' apps have the advantage of monitoring the state of each file in both catalog locations and to update only what is needed. For instance, just after 'duplicating/copying' the catalog and files to the shared external drive, both installations are 'in sync' for the file folders but what about the catalog folders?

The restore has fortunatelly updated the links in the shared catalog, allowing management of the shared files, but that means that the updated catalog folder is different from the original one.  If you try to 'sync' both catalog folders, you get the same result as copying one catalog folder. For instance, you want to 'sync' the shared catalog after an editing session on the shared installation. If you sync or copy the updated catalog to the desktop, all links will refer to the media files on the shared drive, not on your desktop (even if you have synced the media files themselves). As explained earlier, the difference between the updated and original catalog is in the 'volume_table' of the main sqlite database, catalog.pseXXdb.

 

Let's consider the situation just after 'replicating' the catalog/library to the shared drive and performing an editing session on the shared drive.

- The original desktop version works as before, ignoring the updates.

- The share version is updated.

 

Where can a syncing software help now ?

Syncing the media files for my 800 GB files requires only several minutes (not hours) to update the original files on the desktop. Excellent backup for the files themselves.

For the catalog syncing the catalog folder itself will work... with all links to the files pointing to the shared drive. No problem if the shared drive is plugged in, but what if it is no longer available?

So the requirement here would be to update the 'volume_table' in the database to be able to use the synced catalog with the synced back files on the desktop.

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Explorer ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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@Neb1 

Where to store your catalog folder and your photo/media files 'externally'?

I did not mean on a SD card nor on a USB stick, even if that would work for a small library. It's the same for the external media to be used for backups: the most used solution apart from Cloud or Network is to use a small external USB drive (conventional or SSD).

For instance, a 50€  conventional drive for 1 TB is all I need for my 800 GB library.

- for safety, I need to store my backup folder on a different device than on the one with the mater library. I have a separate USB drive for that. Otherwise, I could use Cloud or network solutions.

- I need a different USB drive to store the current catalog folder and the media files folders externally and plug it alternatively. I have chosen an  SSD external drive which is a bit more expensive, but smaller and easier to carry with a laptop. I don't really see the difference in speed because what is important here is your RAM size and your scratch disk choice.

By @MichelBParis

 

Of course, an external hard drive can also be an option for some users. For me personally, it is a ok option for at home, but a very bad option for travelling. For me, it is very important to put my laptop on my lap, without power supply cord and external drives etc. and read-write access the lib. Hence, my choice for a micro SD card.

 

Am I right, that the only drawbacks compared to an external hard drive is the price tag and maybe reliability (covered by higher backup frequency as described in my first posting ("More focus on backups needed as external storages appear to have a higher failure rate and are easier lost (encrypt the storage).").

 

 

How to get what I call your 'library' (media/photo/video files folders) together from your main desktop to the external drive?

Do a full backup to a new backup folder, logically on the separate external USB drive reserved for that purpose. If you don't have such an external drive, create a dedicated folder on your desktop if you have enough space.

- Do a restore from that backup folder to the final common/shared external drive, in custom location. My advice is to create a master folder just under the root of the drive. Now, keep in mind that you have not moved, but copied/replicated the catalog/library on your desktop. It's still there and can be kept as a kind of backup, knowing that both that there is no 'Sync' no 'update' of one from the other. Or you can delete the original catalog/library to recover disk space.

- Be sure to set Windows to recognize the shared external drive with the same letter.

By @MichelBParis

 

Thank you, I think this is clear.

 

If you sync or copy the updated catalog to the desktop, all links will refer to the media files on the shared drive, not on your desktop (even if you have synced the media files themselves). As explained earlier, the difference between the updated and original catalog is in the 'volume_table' of the main sqlite database, catalog.pseXXdb.

By @MichelBParis

 

Gotcha, my proposal is just the other way round: Not modifying the colume table in the catalog, but giving both PCs the same "internal serial number" / "volume ID" of their hard drives (cf. this thread, of course care has to be taken whether any other application would be confused by this in the same as Elements would be; I think after a clean install of the OS would be a good point in time to change the serial number of the hard drive), as well as same drive letter and volume name. The catalog should then work on both volumes, shouldn't it?

 

I think, the tricky part is catalog modifications on both laptops, especially those triggered automatically by Elements, if there are any? If not, I think it should be manageable to not edit the catalog from the second laptop before having synced the first one.

So I would assume that syncing conflicts of the catalogs are likely to appear sooner than later - can anybody confirm or wipe away this concern?

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Community Expert ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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@Neb1 

Where to store your catalog folder and your photo/media files 'externally'?

I did not mean on a SD card nor on a USB stick, even if that would work for a small library. It's the same for the external media to be used for backups: the most used solution apart from Cloud or Network is to use a small external USB drive (conventional or SSD).

For instance, a 50€  conventional drive for 1 TB is all I need for my 800 GB library.

- for safety, I need to store my backup folder on a different device than on the one with the mater library. I have a separate USB drive for that. Otherwise, I could use Cloud or network solutions.

- I need a different USB drive to store the current catalog folder and the media files folders externally and plug it alternatively. I have chosen an  SSD external drive which is a bit more expensive, but smaller and easier to carry with a laptop. I don't really see the difference in speed because what is important here is your RAM size and your scratch disk choice.

By @MichelBParis

 

Of course, an external hard drive can also be an option for some users. For me personally, it is a ok option for at home, but a very bad option for travelling. For me, it is very important to put my laptop on my lap, without power supply cord and external drives etc. and read-write access the lib. Hence, my choice for a micro SD card.

 

Am I right, that the only drawbacks compared to an external hard drive is the price tag and maybe reliability (covered by higher backup frequency as described in my first posting ("More focus on backups needed as external storages appear to have a higher failure rate and are easier lost (encrypt the storage).").

 

 

How to get what I call your 'library' (media/photo/video files folders) together from your main desktop to the external drive?

I have very rarely seen organizer users using anything else than external drives except for very small libraries. Also, my advice is to avoid  USB sticks or cards as backup media: I have seen mysterious problems arising later linked with the description of the volume. Those sticks or cards are considered 'removable_media', not 'builtin_drives', and that seemed to make backups fail afterwards.

I have also seen recently on the Lightroom forum that travelling pros did 'paste' the very thin SSD external drive on the back of their laptops. Not necessary for me, I mainly switch between desktops. I have never had an external drive failure, but I know that it should happen some day and I rely on a number of other disks as backups (or 'syncs'...)

 

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Explorer ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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I have very rarely seen organizer users using anything else than external drives except for very small libraries. Also, my advice is to avoid  USB sticks or cards as backup media: I have seen mysterious problems arising later linked with the description of the volume. Those sticks or cards are considered 'removable_media', not 'builtin_drives', and that seemed to make backups fail afterwards.

By @MichelBParis

 

Interesting and scaring. I'll consider your advice by increasing backup frequency even more (backups were never planned on anything but external hard drives) but I think I'll give my brand new 1 TB micro SD card a try. You will hear if something goes wrong... 😉

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May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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I have very rarely seen organizer users using anything else than external drives except for very small libraries. Also, my advice is to avoid  USB sticks or cards as backup media: I have seen mysterious problems arising later linked with the description of the volume. Those sticks or cards are considered 'removable_media', not 'builtin_drives', and that seemed to make backups fail afterwards.

By @MichelBParis

 

Interesting and scaring. I'll consider your advice by increasing backup frequency even more (backups were never planned on anything but external hard drives) but I think I'll give my brand new 1 TB micro SD card a try. You will hear if something goes wrong... 😉


By @Neb1

 

The mysterious issues I was alluding to were for example the impossibility to create a backup from a catalog/library stored on a USB stick. The reason was never clearly explained. Not a random risk, I suppose. If you can test that you are able to create a full backup elsewhere, you should not worry. Your findings will be interesting for the community. Also, I am curious to know if there is a noticeable difference in operation speed if you are using a card or an external drive for the shared external drive.

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Explorer ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Indeed, Sir. I wanted to follow your request and let you and the community directly know, so I tried. Et voila, full backup does not work. Elements basically behaves normally, the first idea of something going wrong was when Elements calculated the backup size to 84 MB (which is in no way true, see below). It became evident that something went wrong when the full backup was finished within less than 1 min.

 

My analysis so far: The backup folder contains all files that Elements created when I did the full backup a couple of days ago to move to the SD card (no modifications on the catalog at all by me in between, e. g. in terms of new photos or anything I did to existing photos):

 

  • The new corrupted backup folder contains 27'808 files while the corret backup folder from a few days ago contains 41'615 files. The difference is exactly the media files (.jpg, .mov and .mp4 which all are renamed by Elements during a backup) + 2 files more (1x .xmp + 1x .json) in the corrupted backup folder.
  • B0000000.cache (212.970.496 bytes), B0000001 (77.701.626 bytes), B0000002 (29.746.522 bytes) of exactly same size
  • 13920 files with .xmp starting with B0000003.xmp are of the same size, if compared using the size column in detailed with in explorer, but slightly different if with all selected, properties are compared (754.638.825 bytes in the corrupted backup folder vs 753.970.632 bytes - of course, size compared, not size on disk)
  • There is 1 xmp file more in the corrupted backup, B0013923.xmp, so the file names of the following .json files are all incremented by 1 in the corrupted folder.
  • 13879 files with .json are of the same size, if compared using the size column in detailed with in explorer, but slightly different if with all selected, properties are compared (25.983.969 bytes in the corrupted backup folder vs 25.984.407 bytes - of course, size compared, not size on disk)
  • There is 1 .json file more in the corrupted backup.
  • Backup.tly is 5'390 KB instead of 8'634 KB
  • catalog.buc is 86'053 KB instead of 85'816 KB.
  • .dat-file is of exactly the same size (3.037 bytes), but its name is incremented by 2 in the corrupted backup folder (because there is 1 more xmp and json, cf. above)
  • B0027805.cache file is of exactly the same size (25.886.720 bytes), but its name is incremented by 2 in the corrupted backup folder (because there is 1 more xmp and json, cf. above)
  • Overall folder size: 1.13 GB vs 250 GB

 

I undestood this is regarded as mysterious so far. With the above analysis I am trying to contribute to making it less mysterious, so if anyone has got a clue what to do here or what you want me to check - would be much appreciated!

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Explorer ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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I found out something more:

  • For USB sticks there is a hack to make it appear as an external hard drive: It is possible to flip the "removable media bit". Google it, but its not easy, and for micro sd cards in built-in card reades, I don't think this is possible, although I am not sure. I am also not sure, whether an USB stick recognized as external hard drive by Windows works 100% as expected with Elements, although I can't think of a reason why it shouldn't.
  • Creating a new catalog from scratch directly on the micro sd card, adding one sample picture and then backing it up works. So it can't be the fact that it is a micro sd card alone.
  • Creating a new catalog from scratch on the internal hard drive, adding one sample picture, backing it up, restoring it on the sd card and then backing it up from the sd card does not work, just as described with my existing catalog. So my existing catalog is neither corrupt nor too large, there mst be another reason as this example with a new catalog shows.
  • Creating a new catalog from scratch on the internal hard drive, adding one sample picture, backing it up, restoring it on the internal hard drive and then backing it up from the internal hard drive does work, so several backup and restore actions in a row are also not the reason why it doesn't work from the sd card (would also be strange, just tested for the sake of completeness)
  • Strangely, creating a new catalog from scratch on the internal hard drive, adding one sample picture, moving it within the Organizer to the sd card, closing the organizer, moving the catalog to the sd card, opening it there and then backing it up doesn't work either.

 

So if anyone has got an idea what to try to make backup not only possible from new catalogs but also existing one , this would be highly appreciated.

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Community Expert ,
May 22, 2022 May 22, 2022

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I found out something more:

  • For USB sticks there is a hack to make it appear as an external hard drive: It is possible to flip the "removable media bit". Google it, but its not easy, and for micro sd cards in built-in card reades, I don't think this is possible, although I am not sure. I am also not sure, whether an USB stick recognized as external hard drive by Windows works 100% as expected with Elements, although I can't think of a reason why it shouldn't.
  • Creating a new catalog from scratch directly on the micro sd card, adding one sample picture and then backing it up works. So it can't be the fact that it is a micro sd card alone.
  • Creating a new catalog from scratch on the internal hard drive, adding one sample picture, backing it up, restoring it on the sd card and then backing it up from the sd card does not work, just as described with my existing catalog. So my existing catalog is neither corrupt nor too large, there mst be another reason as this example with a new catalog shows.
  • Creating a new catalog from scratch on the internal hard drive, adding one sample picture, backing it up, restoring it on the internal hard drive and then backing it up from the internal hard drive does work, so several backup and restore actions in a row are also not the reason why it doesn't work from the sd card (would also be strange, just tested for the sake of completeness)
  • Strangely, creating a new catalog from scratch on the internal hard drive, adding one sample picture, moving it within the Organizer to the sd card, closing the organizer, moving the catalog to the sd card, opening it there and then backing it up doesn't work either.

 

So if anyone has got an idea what to try to make backup not only possible from new catalogs but also existing one , this would be highly appreciated.


By @Neb1

 

 @Neb1 

Good luck with getting useful help about this on this forum!

We are now getting far away from the original post from @DeePSE .

As you are asking rightly, the question is now to find why the backup process fails to recognize ALL the cataloged media files in particular conditions, specifically when attempting the backup from either a photo card or a USB stick. It is NOT about managing and working with the library + catalog folder which curiously works the same as if they were on an internal or external drive. The fact that it works is much more puzzling for me than the fact the backup is incomplete.

Remember that I mentioned earlier that I discussed a similar issue in an older thread, and I specifically quoted my experience with a USB stick for not being able to backup. Your description fits exactly the situation, which I suggested could be due to an incorrect specification of the drive type (builtin drive or removable drive) in the main catalog database.

My guess is that there is little chance that any priority will be assigned to the Organizer team to solve what I consider is a bug or at least to warn the users that they should not try to store their library and catalog folder on a card or a USB stick. After all, I am sure that for Adobe it's a nonsense not to use a normal internal or external drive (conventional or SSD). What you want can be considered a sensible feature request motivated by new hardware opportunities; however, the current architecture for catalog and backups is still based on the very old time of CDs and that means any fix or change may bring collateral disasters.

That said, I am more interested in finding the precise workflows which create the wrong backup with USB sticks. Depending on the user choice, they can be considered as a removable media (Import from camera or card reader) or exactly like an internal/external drive with a letter and a serial number (import from files or folders). I was able to use the same stick in both modes for different files, either copied from the computer or imported directly from a catalog created on the stick!  So, yes, more tests could be useful to find the good practices.

 

 

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Community Expert ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Gotcha, my proposal is just the other way round: Not modifying the colume table in the catalog, but giving both PCs the same "internal serial number" / "volume ID" of their hard drives (cf. this thread, of course care has to be taken whether any other application would be confused by this in the same as Elements would be; I think after a clean install of the OS would be a good point in time to change the serial number of the hard drive), as well as same drive letter and volume name. The catalog should then work on both volumes, shouldn't it?

 

The trap mentionned by John R Ellis in its psedbtool is that you must not have twice the same serial number in the known volumes of your catalog. This completely fools the organizer. You can't work at all with two different drives with the same serial number recorded in the catalog volume_table, even if they are not plugged in at the same time.

- Let's say we decide to create a 'clone' of our newly shared external drive: if you plug in the clone instead of the original, the serial number will be the same and the organizer will be happy to recognize the clone for the original. The clone will be the exact equivalent of  our 'syncing' the library and making a copy of the catalog folder, then using Windows to assign the original serial number. There is no duplication in the volume_table.

- Where does assigning the same internal serial number provide the same result as a regular backup and restore? If after each editing session your spend a few minutes to 'sync' the shared drive to another drive and make a copy of the catalog folder, you only need to know the serial number of the shared drive. To make the 'synced' drive work just like the original, either you edit manually the sqlite database or you assign from Windows the original serial number to the clone (to be tested as noted before). You don't need to do the edit or the re-assign process until you need to replace your current shared drive. Of course, it would be a good idea to do that from time to time to be sure the process works ok.

 

 

 

 

 

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Explorer ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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quoteThe trap mentionned by John R Ellis in its psedbtool is that you must not have twice the same serial number in the known volumes of your catalog. This completely fools the organizer. You can't work at all with two different drives with the same serial number recorded in the catalog volume_table, even if they are not plugged in at the same time.
By @MichelBParis

 

Now we are getting to the point, I hope: How does the organizer know, that it is actually two different volumes or why should the serial number be twice in the catalog? One serial number, one volume name, one path - on two different laptops.

 

One open question is still: Are there automatic changes to the catalog by Elements, meaning a user cannot be sure to access a catalog read-only?

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Community Expert ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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quoteThe trap mentionned by John R Ellis in its psedbtool is that you must not have twice the same serial number in the known volumes of your catalog. This completely fools the organizer. You can't work at all with two different drives with the same serial number recorded in the catalog volume_table, even if they are not plugged in at the same time.
By @MichelBParis

 

Now we are getting to the point, I hope: How does the organizer know, that it is actually two different volumes or why should the serial number be twice in the catalog? One serial number, one volume name, one path - on two different laptops.

 

One open question is still: Are there automatic changes to the catalog by Elements, meaning a user cannot be sure to access a catalog read-only?


By @Neb1

 

To my knowledge, there is no Adobe doc about the internal architecture of the catalog and especially the main database. So, I can only rely on what is available, that is the contents of the databases in the catalog. Nearly all the technical info we can get online is from John R Ellis (see previous link). Unfortunately, as mentioned in this link, he has completely dropped the organizer and he is now a major expert in the Lightroom forums, especially for metadata management.

Once you understand the structure and inner working of the databases (I can only understand a tiny bit of it...) you are left with how the organizer uses and interprets the data stored in the databases, particularly the main one and the thumbnail cache database. Absolutely no Adobe docs about it.

Remember that we are dealing with a twenty years old catalog system, initially based on Microsoft Access at a time when the only external drives were CDs. So, the organizer still has 'legacy' features which don't seem to make sense today. In its life, Adobe included this external tool in Elements (Windows first);  the Elements team was moved to India, with new roadmaps (AI...). Is there still someone in the team to remember the reasons of the original (2001) programming choices?

 

If you master sql database management, use a dedicated software to investigate the database structure. I can post screenshots of a few tables view.

 

For your question of how does the organizer know about the different 'volumes' plugged in the computer, the main idea was to work only with CDs only. Those were too small to allow easy backups.

On the other hand, Windows used letters to distinguish drives. You know that if you save or backup something on an external media 'E', it will be assigned another letter like 'F' or 'G' if another device has been plugged in in the meantime. Then, the organizer needs to ask Windows to identify the 'signature' of the drive (the serial number). The database has recorded at the same time: the letter drive, the serial number and the volume name. How does the organizer choose between those criteria when the letter has been changed? The rules are explained nowhere, but you can safely believe that the softwares trusts the serial number which has been introduced for that purpose. I suppose that for Macs, which were supported a few years later, the volume name is the key. So, if today, you are plugging in an external drive with data recorded on 'E' and the present letter is 'F', the current location will be recognized and the files won't be rejected as 'disconnected'.

 

Volume_table-1.jpg

 

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Explorer ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Thank you for your very helpful insights. I guess, my question about my proposal is also rather basic. Let me try it in other words: I have an existing big laptop and a new small laptop for travelling. I assign the same volume ID to the hard drive of the new laptop as the hard drive in the existing laptop has got, install Elements and make sure, volume name, drive letter and path to the catalog and media files are 100% identical.

 

As far as I understood so far, the catalog should not be able to tell which device out of those two it is currently running on, as it uses "only" volume ID / serial number, drive name and letter to identify the drive.

 

Given the above considerations are valid: Can I copy and paste (via e. g. an external hard drive) the catalog and media files and everything works on both laptops? If not, what is the reason for the catalog to not work on both laptops? (Of course, without any additional measures, future changes won't be synced between both laptops.)

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Community Expert ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Thank you for your very helpful insights. I guess, my question about my proposal is also rather basic. Let me try it in other words: I have an existing big laptop and a new small laptop for travelling. I assign the same volume ID to the hard drive of the new laptop as the hard drive in the existing laptop has got, install Elements and make sure, volume name, drive letter and path to the catalog and media files are 100% identical.

 

As far as I understood so far, the catalog should not be able to tell which device out of those two it is currently running on, as it uses "only" volume ID / serial number, drive name and letter to identify the drive.

 

Given the above considerations are valid: Can I copy and paste (via e. g. an external hard drive) the catalog and media files and everything works on both laptops? If not, what is the reason for the catalog to not work on both laptops? (Of course, without any additional measures, future changes won't be synced between both laptops.)


By @Neb1

 

I'll be prudent to answer since I am not yet ready to verify by myself on a new external drive to which I'll assign the source drive serial number. However, if I understand well, what you suggest works exactly like in a rather common situation today. The Elements user of a PC wants to replace his internal conventional drive with a new SSD of the same size. He uses the cloning software supplied with the SSD to 'clone' the disk. That also assigns the same serial number. If the catalog and the media files were stored on the old conventional drive, the new installation will work exactly as before. So, I have no doubt that what you suggest will work as well. Note that if you don't find many posts testifying that the cloning solution is successful, you'll get a number of post with complaints due to the bad idea to reuse the original drive as an internal or external drive. If the organizer wants to catalog files on both drives, it will be totally fooled (two different volume id with the same number). So long as the older drive does not containg cataloged media files, no problem. If the user reassigns a new serial number for the reused old drive, no problem either.

 

My question now is what advantage do you expect from your solution compared with using the same shared external drive alternatively. Copying the media files and catalogs to the other computer takes time. Using syncing solutions instead copies or backups would be much faster. I imagine you start with your main desktop, sync it with an external drive, then sync from the external drive to the new computer.

Or you store your library on the dedicated folders synced by DropBox or OneDrive between the two computers... no need for the intermediate external drive.

Note that in the case of a Cloud syncing, I would not take the risk to include the working catalog folder in the dedicated synced folder, I woul only store an updated copy. I have not tested that possibility and I fear that syncing a catalog in use would be risky and slower.

 

 

 

 

 

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May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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One open question is still: Are there automatic changes to the catalog by Elements, meaning a user cannot be sure to access a catalog read-only?


By @Neb1

 

I don't understand your question.

I have never tried to use a catalog folder with only readonly files, but I don't see how it could work? Changes in the catalog are triggered by all your actions in the organizer and even in the editor, not only to monitor background processes but also to monitor various status values.

 

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May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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My question is rather basic, I guess: Are any changes made to an existing catalog automatically by Elements, if I don't do any changes by myself? E. g. by an automatically started autocreation process that might write to the catalog, by face recognition etc. In other words: If I don't open Elements for a week or so, or if I open it, but do nothing else than viewing some photos - will the catalog remain exactly identical?

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