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I was looking at my Photoshop Elements 15 organizer and noticed that 3 years of my folders were missing (2004 to 2006) from my catalog from 2003 to present. I did a lot of work on my catalog these past two weeks (when I did my last incremental backup) and would rather not restore from there if those folders were also missing then and I just didn't notice. I have no idea how these folders actually disappeared and when I do a "find" for specific photo files they don't appear. All of these folders are still on my hard disk, so only deleted from photoshop, but have no idea how this could have happened (years of tagging, descriptions, etc.).
How do I open files in my backup to see if any of these missing photos are there before I restore and lose all the work that I have done?
Thank you for any assistance you can provide.
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"All of these folders are still on my hard disk, so only deleted from photoshop, but have no idea how this could have happened (years of tagging, descriptions, etc.)."
If I understand well, the folders with the photo files are already on your computer, but they don't appear in your catalog.
Before suggesting any troubleshooting, the first thing which strikes me is that deleting so many files at the same time, even only from catalog, is a very long operation which can't be missed.
So, the first thing would be to check if those files are simply 'hidden' and not deleted and if there is a filter active.
If you have some idea of where those files (subfolders?) are on your computer, maybe try to import a small batch and see if the import is refused 'because they are already in the catalog.
Since a backup folder contains renamed versions of your photo files, it's not easy to browse and find given files. You might try to sort those files by dates, and if you know the missing dates, you could search with the Windows explorer.
In your case, the only simple but slow solution would be to use your latest backup and to restore everything to a new drive, partition or master folder.
Another thing to try to check if your latest backup (even incremental backup folder) still links to the missing files would be to copy the 'catalog.buc' and rename it depending on your PSE version to 'catalog.pse19db' for PSE2021 for instance.
Then put this renamed file into its own folder and double click on it to open the organizer. This should recover most of your catalog: tags, captions... but not face recognition.
Thank you for your very thoughtful and detailed response. Before I do any of your very appreciated suggestions, I had used the "Find" function using a known file name ... wouldn't even hidden files appear during a search? Thank you! Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
You are right that a search (by filename for instance) will find even hidden files.
What is possible and a common situation is when you inadvertently move or rename folders from the Explorer, but then the result is that the files do appear as missing with a question mark icon. So, that is not your situation since you can find files from the missing period from your Explorer.
If you tried to delete voluntarily two years of files from your organizer, specifying from catalog and not from disk, you probably would not be able to do it or it would last for hours or days.
So, assuming that the missing files in the catalog were actually removed only from catalog for an unknown reason, what can we do?
- those files can be imported again without triggering a warning that the files are already in the catalog. Did you try to import some of the files from that period as a test? That would confirm that the files were indeed absent from the catalog.
- If the new import works, that does not solve your goal which is to recover the associated info like tags, captions, notes, ratings as well as albums, version sets, stacks. Then the question is to find older catalogs which might keep the informtion about those missing years files. Either older catalog folders, even from older PSE versions or catalogs saved in backups, full or incremental.
- So search for other catalogs in default location or in custom ones (on external drives for instance) and search also for backup folders (full or incremental).
Finding if those catalogs contain the missing period is different in each case.
- If the catalog is not in your current PSE version, you need to convert it, which does not overwrite your current catalog. If the files have not been moved, the converted catalog will have the missing info. If the files have been moved, the old/restored catalog will hold the file info, but show 'disconnected' files. It may be possible to reconnect them.
- In the case of backup folders, you have two ways to search: from the renamed photo files in the backup folder and in the renamed 'catalog.pseXXdb' database to 'catalog.buc'.
The renamed photo files can be searched by date in the explorer and you should see rapidly if files from the missing years are there.
The catalog.buc can be renamed back to its original name and included in a new 'custom' catalog folder. As suggested in my previous post, you can use that catalog just like older ones.
So depending on what you can find in your computer for old catalogs or backups, you should be able to know which one would include the missing years. Then, we can go on step by step to recover those years and add them to your latest catalog.