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Trying to recover my catalog on new PC after old PC died - 2018 catalog

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May 12, 2020

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I have used photoshop Elements versions, 5, 8, 15, 2018 & 2020.  After successfully installing Photoshop Elements 2020 and (with helpd from Adobe) converted my 2018 catalog to 2020 - I knew I needed a new PC.  I received the new Windows 10 PC and in the process of setting up to move my files my old Windows 10 PC died!  Eventually Microsoft had to do a reset on the old PC which wiped all my programs and program data. My data was saved.  I had backed up my 2018 catalog using the Photoshop backup before upgrading it to 2020.  My issue is trying to recover the 2018 catalog from the backup.  I think it has to do with having been using Photoshop versions for so long that my files are not where Photoshop Elements 2020 or 2018 expects them.

 

My actual photos are in C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures\  where "my username" is my W10 user directory name

My catalogs where in the same place they always were (but are gone now cuz of the reset) C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\

The backup of my 2018 Catalog (I never had a chance to backup the 2020 catalog) is in C\:\Users\"my username"\Documents\Adobe\Photo18Bkup

 

  1. I have moved all my photos over to the new PC and they are still in the same place (under Pictues)
  2. I have moved the Photo18Bkup folder and contents over to the new PC and it is in the same place 
  3. With advise from Adobe support, I reinstalled Photoshop Elements 2020, and used the recover Catalog function and selected the 2018 backup.  It completed successfully
  4. It then converted the catalog "successfully" (to 2020 I'm hoping) 

 

The catalog "My Catalog" is "empty" or at least not showing the tree or thumbnails.  I selected "My Catalog 1" - it too looked "empty",  (it is not really "empty")

 

I reviewed the posts on this forum (which seem excellent!) and leads me to believe things are not where the software is expecting.

 

I have now done the following:

  1. I reinstalled Photoshop Elements 2018 on my PC.
  2. I opened the catalog "My Catalog" and my tree structure appears and the thumbnails are all showing question marks (so not exactly the same as a disconnected file)  Whew - At least the catalogs are not really "empty"

 

I am trying to reconnect but am not sure that is the correct next step.  When it started searching to reconnect a file it was looking for a .mp3 file which, of course, would not be in my Pictures folder (I think it was looking in the Photo18Bkup directory or in the Adobe Directory.  I selected browse and picked the Pictures folder.  It now says updating but is not running like the reconnect.

 

I am really unsure on what to do.  Thoughts?

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Correct answer by Greg_S. | Adobe Community Professional

Thanks for your detailed information.  It certainly explains some of what has happened to you, and may be helpful to other users.  So, I will try to answer your remaining questions.

 

1. Should I worry that the catalog is under C:\ and not in its default location (the impression I am getting is that it reduces the chances of issues)?

No need to worry.  The catalog folder can be stored anywhere, even on the root drive.  In fact, there have been times when I have used the root drive to store the folder because it is easy to find and you can simply create a "backup" of your catalog by copying the folder to a backup drive such as your external drive.  Keeping backups on your system drive is not really a reliable way to back up your data.  As you have found the hard way, an OS failure and reset may cause the loss of ALL of your data including the backups.  So, you should definitely keep the backups on a separate drive (or two).

 

2. Is there an issue with re-establishing my tree structure in the catalog to match my Pictures directory?

Here is where I think you have some misconceptions about the process.  The Organizer catalog does not create copies of your photos.  It is a database program that only lists your photos and keeps track of where they are stored on your computer.  Yes, it also stores thumbnails of your photos and videos for faster display in the grid.  But those can all be deleted and rebuilt at any time. 

 

So, as I understand it, your 2018 backup was restored to the C:\New Catalog folder (and it was then converted to an Elements 2020 catalog.  This means that not only was the catalog database folder restored to that location but also all of the photo files that were originally on your old computer when you made the backup.  When the catalog was converted to 2020, another copy of the catalog was made automatically before the conversion, and the catalog copy was given a suffix of -1.  IOW, if you kept the default names, you should now have a My Catalog folder and a My Catalog 1 folder.  The first contains your 2020 catalog and the second contains your renamed 2018 catalog.  The latter can still be used in 2018.  Just to confirm this, you can look inside the folders and the 2018 catalog will have a large file named catalog.pse16db and the 2020 catalog will have one named catalog.pse18db. (The number refers to the actual version of the program, not the name given to it by marketing.)  You need to have file extension names displayed in Win File Explorer, otherwise you will only see a file namd catalog.

 

You now have 3 or 4 copies of your photos on your system drive.  (I have lost count of them.  😊)  You have the My Pictures directory that you copied over from your old computer and the New Catalog directory that contains the 2018 photos that were restored from backup,  You also have one or two Catalog backups that contain all of the photos that were backed up. 

 

So, to answer your question, the current catalogs for both 2018 and 2019 seem to be pointing at the New Catalog directory photos, not the My Pictures folder photos.  It is possible for you to rename the New Catalog folder to Pictures if that helps.  But you should only conduct the rename operation inside each copy of the Organizer.  (If you were to rename the folder in one catalog, the other one would lose track of where the files are stored. So you need to do it in both 2018 and 2020 if you intend to use both for now.  Otherwise, if you are only worried about 2020, just rename the folder there.)

 

If you really want the catalog to be pointing at the original location of your photos, that would be possible but may be time consuming. 

 

 

3. So having the jpg files in both my C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures folder and catalog, feels appropriate (i.e. not doubled) correct?

 

I think I have answered this question in response to 2.  🤓  But let me know if I have confused you with my lengthy reply.

 

One final and important point:  Your current catalogs are not up to date with any photos that you have stored on your computer since the last 2018 backup was taken.  If you know what folders and files those may be, you can use the Import from Files and Folders tool to add them to your new catalogs.

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Trying to recover my catalog on new PC after old PC died - 2018 catalog

Community Beginner ,
May 12, 2020

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I have used photoshop Elements versions, 5, 8, 15, 2018 & 2020.  After successfully installing Photoshop Elements 2020 and (with helpd from Adobe) converted my 2018 catalog to 2020 - I knew I needed a new PC.  I received the new Windows 10 PC and in the process of setting up to move my files my old Windows 10 PC died!  Eventually Microsoft had to do a reset on the old PC which wiped all my programs and program data. My data was saved.  I had backed up my 2018 catalog using the Photoshop backup before upgrading it to 2020.  My issue is trying to recover the 2018 catalog from the backup.  I think it has to do with having been using Photoshop versions for so long that my files are not where Photoshop Elements 2020 or 2018 expects them.

 

My actual photos are in C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures\  where "my username" is my W10 user directory name

My catalogs where in the same place they always were (but are gone now cuz of the reset) C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\

The backup of my 2018 Catalog (I never had a chance to backup the 2020 catalog) is in C\:\Users\"my username"\Documents\Adobe\Photo18Bkup

 

  1. I have moved all my photos over to the new PC and they are still in the same place (under Pictues)
  2. I have moved the Photo18Bkup folder and contents over to the new PC and it is in the same place 
  3. With advise from Adobe support, I reinstalled Photoshop Elements 2020, and used the recover Catalog function and selected the 2018 backup.  It completed successfully
  4. It then converted the catalog "successfully" (to 2020 I'm hoping) 

 

The catalog "My Catalog" is "empty" or at least not showing the tree or thumbnails.  I selected "My Catalog 1" - it too looked "empty",  (it is not really "empty")

 

I reviewed the posts on this forum (which seem excellent!) and leads me to believe things are not where the software is expecting.

 

I have now done the following:

  1. I reinstalled Photoshop Elements 2018 on my PC.
  2. I opened the catalog "My Catalog" and my tree structure appears and the thumbnails are all showing question marks (so not exactly the same as a disconnected file)  Whew - At least the catalogs are not really "empty"

 

I am trying to reconnect but am not sure that is the correct next step.  When it started searching to reconnect a file it was looking for a .mp3 file which, of course, would not be in my Pictures folder (I think it was looking in the Photo18Bkup directory or in the Adobe Directory.  I selected browse and picked the Pictures folder.  It now says updating but is not running like the reconnect.

 

I am really unsure on what to do.  Thoughts?

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by Greg_S. | Adobe Community Professional

Thanks for your detailed information.  It certainly explains some of what has happened to you, and may be helpful to other users.  So, I will try to answer your remaining questions.

 

1. Should I worry that the catalog is under C:\ and not in its default location (the impression I am getting is that it reduces the chances of issues)?

No need to worry.  The catalog folder can be stored anywhere, even on the root drive.  In fact, there have been times when I have used the root drive to store the folder because it is easy to find and you can simply create a "backup" of your catalog by copying the folder to a backup drive such as your external drive.  Keeping backups on your system drive is not really a reliable way to back up your data.  As you have found the hard way, an OS failure and reset may cause the loss of ALL of your data including the backups.  So, you should definitely keep the backups on a separate drive (or two).

 

2. Is there an issue with re-establishing my tree structure in the catalog to match my Pictures directory?

Here is where I think you have some misconceptions about the process.  The Organizer catalog does not create copies of your photos.  It is a database program that only lists your photos and keeps track of where they are stored on your computer.  Yes, it also stores thumbnails of your photos and videos for faster display in the grid.  But those can all be deleted and rebuilt at any time. 

 

So, as I understand it, your 2018 backup was restored to the C:\New Catalog folder (and it was then converted to an Elements 2020 catalog.  This means that not only was the catalog database folder restored to that location but also all of the photo files that were originally on your old computer when you made the backup.  When the catalog was converted to 2020, another copy of the catalog was made automatically before the conversion, and the catalog copy was given a suffix of -1.  IOW, if you kept the default names, you should now have a My Catalog folder and a My Catalog 1 folder.  The first contains your 2020 catalog and the second contains your renamed 2018 catalog.  The latter can still be used in 2018.  Just to confirm this, you can look inside the folders and the 2018 catalog will have a large file named catalog.pse16db and the 2020 catalog will have one named catalog.pse18db. (The number refers to the actual version of the program, not the name given to it by marketing.)  You need to have file extension names displayed in Win File Explorer, otherwise you will only see a file namd catalog.

 

You now have 3 or 4 copies of your photos on your system drive.  (I have lost count of them.  😊)  You have the My Pictures directory that you copied over from your old computer and the New Catalog directory that contains the 2018 photos that were restored from backup,  You also have one or two Catalog backups that contain all of the photos that were backed up. 

 

So, to answer your question, the current catalogs for both 2018 and 2019 seem to be pointing at the New Catalog directory photos, not the My Pictures folder photos.  It is possible for you to rename the New Catalog folder to Pictures if that helps.  But you should only conduct the rename operation inside each copy of the Organizer.  (If you were to rename the folder in one catalog, the other one would lose track of where the files are stored. So you need to do it in both 2018 and 2020 if you intend to use both for now.  Otherwise, if you are only worried about 2020, just rename the folder there.)

 

If you really want the catalog to be pointing at the original location of your photos, that would be possible but may be time consuming. 

 

 

3. So having the jpg files in both my C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures folder and catalog, feels appropriate (i.e. not doubled) correct?

 

I think I have answered this question in response to 2.  🤓  But let me know if I have confused you with my lengthy reply.

 

One final and important point:  Your current catalogs are not up to date with any photos that you have stored on your computer since the last 2018 backup was taken.  If you know what folders and files those may be, you can use the Import from Files and Folders tool to add them to your new catalogs.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 12, 2020

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@suelu:

You have not given us any indication of how large your C drive is, or the size of your media.  However, if I understand you correctly, you simply copied (moved) your media files (photos and videos?) from your old computer to your new one.  As you have probably read from other threads, that is not a good way to accomplish the task.  The best way is to use a backup from the old computer and restore it on the new one.  Most people would use an external drive for the backup, but it appears that you have copied the backup to your new computer's hard drive.  That's no problem.  But you may end up with 3 copies of your media files on your system drive and they could all be destroyed if you ever have to do a complete reset of Windows again.

 

So, if my assumptions are correct, I think I would first try doing a restore of the backup which is on your new computer, using Elements 2020 to do so.  During this process, your 2018 catalog will be converted to 2020.  Depending on the size of your catalog and media, this could take many hours.  As part of the restore process, you will also be prompted to choose how and where your media should be restored to.  I recommend that you check the box that restores original folder structure.   In terms of which folder you should designate for the restoration, this can be confusing, particularly since you presumably already have the files stored in your main "Pictures" folder.  If you chose that folder to restore the images, I'm not sure how Elements will treat the existing images.  However, I think it is worth a shot.  Either you will get a message that the file already exists and do you want to skip it, or it will add a copy and rename the file with a suffix -1, or it will overwrite the file.  If you have made any changes to your files on your old computer after installing Elements 2020 there, there may be some potential issues with how the files may be named.

To be on the safe side, you may want to create a new main folder called "Photos" and point the Restore to that folder.  As I said, the worst thing that will happen is you will have duplicate copies of your photos on your computer (but not in your restored catalog).  Once everything is figured out, you can delete the duplicate sets.

 

Here is an article to help you with the restore process.

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 13, 2020

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@Greg_S

Thank you so much for the reply.  So my new PC has 1TB on the C Drive.  Since all I was able to recover from the old PC were datafiles (which included my catalog backup), I copied my JPGs over:  C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures.  I also copied over my Catalog backups.  (My actual catalog was wiped out with the Microsoft Reset.)

 

I figured out the first problem:  Setting up me as a Windows user on the new PC using my Microsoft account caused my Name and my default Windows User Directory to change.  What I should have done is create me (admin) as a Windows User without using my Microsoft account so I could control my windows name.  I hope this helps someone else.  To fix this, I had to create another Windows Admin User on my New PC without linking my Microsoft account so I could match my Windows name and user directory name to what I had on my old PC.  I then moved my photos (C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures) from the one admin account to the other admin account on my new PC and Viola!  The 2018 catalog worked fine. (FYI: the process I had used under the original Admin account on my new PC is what you described: I recovered the catalog from my 2018 backup file that I had moved to my new PC.)

 

Since my Old PC crashed before I made a 2020 Catalog backup, I had to redo the convert/upgrade on the new PC. I followed the same process on the new PC, I reconnected any images and made sure there were no missing files and created a nice clean Catalog backup of my 2018 Catalog on my new PC.

 

I proceeded to try and convert (upgrade) the catalog and ran into the same problem I had the first time I converted to 2020 about a month ago.  I get a conversion failed and it hangs up in the thumbnail optimization piece.  Adobe had helped me before so I contacted them again today to help me convert the catalog.  

 

Here is what they did and I now have a different problem/question which I can open a new thread if that helps. (I think you were warning me about this in the second part of your response:)

They used my 2018 Catalog backup but restored it to c:\New Catalog\  - I questioned him about why in the root directory but "He had a plan".  It successfully restored and then he converted it, successfully.  I pointed out to him that the 2020 catalog (while working - YAY!) was not in the default location of C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\.  He said do not move it and let it "settle down" because it could undo everything we just did.  

 

When I look at it my tree structure in the organizer it has been flattened.  The images all reconnect but it no longer matches my tree structure in my pictures library.  I always thought that the only thing in the catalog were thumbnails, but apparently I am wrong.  The other thing I notices is if I turn the Organizer view to "View as Tree"  it is showing the folders are all under C:\New Catalog\

 

Questions: 

1. Should I worry that the catalog is under C:\  and not in its default location (the impression I am getting is that it reduces the chances of issues)?

2. Is there an issue with re-establishing my tree structure in the catalog to match my Pictures directory?

3. So having the jpg files in both my C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures folder and catalog, feels appropriate (i.e. not doubled)  correct?

 

FYI - I do have an external harddrive that had an old version of the 2018 Catalog encrypted, but it was from back in 2019 (shame on me).  I will not let that happen again.

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Community Beginner ,
May 13, 2020

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One last comment, this happened to me and the Adobe person - WHen Restoring, Restore Files and Catalog to:  If we selected Restore Original Folder structure the restore button never goes active and stayed grayed out.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 13, 2020

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Thanks for your detailed information.  It certainly explains some of what has happened to you, and may be helpful to other users.  So, I will try to answer your remaining questions.

 

1. Should I worry that the catalog is under C:\ and not in its default location (the impression I am getting is that it reduces the chances of issues)?

No need to worry.  The catalog folder can be stored anywhere, even on the root drive.  In fact, there have been times when I have used the root drive to store the folder because it is easy to find and you can simply create a "backup" of your catalog by copying the folder to a backup drive such as your external drive.  Keeping backups on your system drive is not really a reliable way to back up your data.  As you have found the hard way, an OS failure and reset may cause the loss of ALL of your data including the backups.  So, you should definitely keep the backups on a separate drive (or two).

 

2. Is there an issue with re-establishing my tree structure in the catalog to match my Pictures directory?

Here is where I think you have some misconceptions about the process.  The Organizer catalog does not create copies of your photos.  It is a database program that only lists your photos and keeps track of where they are stored on your computer.  Yes, it also stores thumbnails of your photos and videos for faster display in the grid.  But those can all be deleted and rebuilt at any time. 

 

So, as I understand it, your 2018 backup was restored to the C:\New Catalog folder (and it was then converted to an Elements 2020 catalog.  This means that not only was the catalog database folder restored to that location but also all of the photo files that were originally on your old computer when you made the backup.  When the catalog was converted to 2020, another copy of the catalog was made automatically before the conversion, and the catalog copy was given a suffix of -1.  IOW, if you kept the default names, you should now have a My Catalog folder and a My Catalog 1 folder.  The first contains your 2020 catalog and the second contains your renamed 2018 catalog.  The latter can still be used in 2018.  Just to confirm this, you can look inside the folders and the 2018 catalog will have a large file named catalog.pse16db and the 2020 catalog will have one named catalog.pse18db. (The number refers to the actual version of the program, not the name given to it by marketing.)  You need to have file extension names displayed in Win File Explorer, otherwise you will only see a file namd catalog.

 

You now have 3 or 4 copies of your photos on your system drive.  (I have lost count of them.  😊)  You have the My Pictures directory that you copied over from your old computer and the New Catalog directory that contains the 2018 photos that were restored from backup,  You also have one or two Catalog backups that contain all of the photos that were backed up. 

 

So, to answer your question, the current catalogs for both 2018 and 2019 seem to be pointing at the New Catalog directory photos, not the My Pictures folder photos.  It is possible for you to rename the New Catalog folder to Pictures if that helps.  But you should only conduct the rename operation inside each copy of the Organizer.  (If you were to rename the folder in one catalog, the other one would lose track of where the files are stored. So you need to do it in both 2018 and 2020 if you intend to use both for now.  Otherwise, if you are only worried about 2020, just rename the folder there.)

 

If you really want the catalog to be pointing at the original location of your photos, that would be possible but may be time consuming. 

 

 

3. So having the jpg files in both my C:\Users\"my username"\Pictures folder and catalog, feels appropriate (i.e. not doubled) correct?

 

I think I have answered this question in response to 2.  🤓  But let me know if I have confused you with my lengthy reply.

 

One final and important point:  Your current catalogs are not up to date with any photos that you have stored on your computer since the last 2018 backup was taken.  If you know what folders and files those may be, you can use the Import from Files and Folders tool to add them to your new catalogs.

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Suelu LATEST
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May 14, 2020

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Thank you so much.  So my original understanding that the catalog does not contain the jpg's (just thumbnails) was correct.  It is the Photoshop backup that made copies of the jpgs from my Picture folder.    So I do want the catalog to be pointing at the original location of my photos and the catalog folder not containing the photos (i.e. back to the way it was even in Photoshop 2020 on my old computer.)  

 

I am guessing the only option I would have is to remove the .jpgs from the catalog folder and then reconnect to the Pictures folder to have the catalog point back to the jpgs in the Pictures folder (like it was before my old PC died),  Is that correct? 

 

I may be to the point that it may be best to start over with building a clean catalog even though I have 25,750 items in the catalog.  One reason I am thinking to do this is splitting the catalog.  Having travel photos in separate catalogs, family, etc.  Might be way easier to handle.  I do not have that many projects (i.e. psd files).  When adobe did what ever they did to get the catalog to upgrade to 2020 yesterday, I lost half of the PSDs I did have.  

 

(FYI: I did have daily backups of my data which included my jpgs and my catalog backups to an external.  I just did not need to use them to recover because the reset left the data.  It was all the system files I lost which I had not backed up to my external since August of 2019.  My new PC allows me to back up to an internal 3TB drive and then from there I will copy out to my 5TB external.  I am not quite ready to trust backing up to the cloud services....)

 

Thanks for the reminder about my current catalog not being up to date.  

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