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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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LEGEND ,
Aug 03, 2017 Aug 03, 2017

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You are not the first person to report catalogs and backups have disappeared, but usually the answer is that you have mistakenly opened a new (empty) LR catalog, and the real one is out there, and you have to search for it using your operating system's search feature. Have you done this? Search all hard disks for .LRCAT files.

There's no way that LR will cause catalog files to disappear and backups to disappear, although I could imagine that a hard disk malfunction where some sectors of a HD have gone bad could cause files to appear to have disappeared, but even there that would assume that the same bad sectors cause both the active catalog and backups to disappear, which is quite a stretch in my mind.

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New Here ,
Aug 03, 2017 Aug 03, 2017

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Thanks for the reply. Yeah, me and the Adobe support assistant did a windows search across my whole system for .lrcat files and tried the ones that came up with no luck. Also, when I opened Lightroom it just started empty and didnt ask to load a catalouge. Every other time I open Lightroom it simply opens the correct catalogue (I only have one) but this time it opened as if I had just downloaded it for the first time, with tutorial and all.

I haven't changed any file settings or moved any files at all and the PC was turned off overnight between me backing up and shutting down, then turning on and reopening LR. The only other thing I can think of is that my hard drive is fault and has misplaced the catalogues and backups, however, I also use the hard drive to store all my movies and TV shows which are all still intact and work correctly.

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New Here ,
Aug 15, 2017 Aug 15, 2017

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Hi there, I'm having a somewhat similar problem and am currently trying to figure out which recovery program would be best for recovering my catalog files (on a mac).  Do you have any suggestions?  What did you use, and did it end up working for you?

Thanks in adance

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New Here ,
Jan 12, 2018 Jan 12, 2018

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Once you get straightened out, always backup your catalog to an off-site server or at least an external HD so you can find it again. Typically you put hundreds of hours into your LR pictures and you don't want them to disappear if your HD crashes, or whatever.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 08, 2018 Mar 08, 2018

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I just had the same problem and lost days of work making collections (Lightroom Classic CC release 7.22).

When I noticed Lightroom was running slow and some photos in catalog were showing greyed out, I decided to quit lightroom and then reopen. I first tried to optimize the catalog. After 10 minutes no luck. I then tried to cancel, and Lightroom froze. I had to force quit (Mac using High Sierra). All my photos are still where they were on and external 4 TB hard drive, but I will apparently have to re-import them.

This is crazy for an expensive program supposed to be top of the line. Is there anything I can do? Nobody seems to be answering the question. I've searched the system and the only .ircat file is basically empty.

Peter

I have most of the photos also in Lightroom CC that has less sophisticated controls. I have some of the collections there. Can I import into Lightroom Classic CC? On web I find only instructions for syncing from Classic CC to CC.

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LEGEND ,
Mar 08, 2018 Mar 08, 2018

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You've given us almost no useful details. Why do you have to re-import the photos? Please explain this.

Not only is re-importing the wrong thing to do, but most likely unnecessary.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 28, 2018 Mar 28, 2018

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I had this happen to me today as well. 2 years of collections gone. Spent 45 minutes with Adobe tech support and they're gone. I backed up after every session but nothing. Lightroom acted like it was my first day and the only catalog was the empty one it created today. Very sad and disruption to me.

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LEGEND ,
Mar 28, 2018 Mar 28, 2018

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https://forums.adobe.com/people/vincent+peters19128073  wrote

I had this happen to me today as well. 2 years of collections gone. Spent 45 minutes with Adobe tech support and they're gone. I backed up after every session but nothing. Lightroom acted like it was my first day and the only catalog was the empty one it created today. Very sad and disruption to me.

What do you mean by "I backed up after every session but nothing".

Do you have backup catalogs?

Have you searched your drive for .lrcat.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 28, 2018 Mar 28, 2018

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When closing down Lightroom, it asks if I want to back-up. I always said yes. But no back-ups could be found. Both me and the Adobe Tech searched the entire drive for .lrcat files, and the only one found was the empty one created today, like it was my first time using the app.

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New Here ,
Mar 28, 2018 Mar 28, 2018

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Oh no... I though I was the only one. It look like something is going on with lightroom. Today my galleries disappeared as well. I have spent all day trying to find them. The only galleries that I found are from 2015 and befpre. Everything else is gone!!!!

This happened after the updating of Lightroom:  It said: THis catalog was previously upgraded during the Lightroom Classic Update. WOuld you like to use the newer, upgraded catalog instead?... I clicked yes and when it opened the catalog was from 2015.... the rest of my 2018 backups were not there anymore

This is a terrible situation . Please, if someone find the fixing post it here.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 02, 2018 Apr 02, 2018

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Adobe support SUCKS!!! Catalogs disappeared and no one can help. Now I keep getting emails to close the case. HOW!!! I give up.

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LEGEND ,
Apr 02, 2018 Apr 02, 2018

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So when you search your hard drive for lrcat nothing comes up?

I asked this a few days ago and got no reply. You did reply that supposedly some Adobe person remotely searched your drive and found NO files with the extension of lrcat.

But have "YOU" done a search for that?

I find it hard to believe that there are no files on your entire drive that don't end with LRCAT.

If I search my system for that this is what I come up with.

LR Cat search.PNG

There are 39 different LR Catalog files from several different versions including numerous backups of my current working catalog, with the Zip extension, and backups of previous version catalogs. And then there are backups of the backups and main catalog files on external drives.

So I find it hard to believe you don't have any LR Catalog files anywhere on your computer.

The only way for that to happen is YOU the USER Deleted them or your had drive is failing and they got corrupted in some way and lost the file extension, LRCAT.

So the reason your help request ticket number was deemed finished is because with NO LR catalog there isn't anything Adobe can do for you.

Now as to why you have no backups of the catalog file although you say you create one every time LR closes I have no idea. Where are you supposedly storing the backups?

By default LR selects the same main folder the working catalog is in and creates a subfolder called Backups and places the catalog backup files in dated subfolders. But if YOU (And I do mean YOU) Deleted that main catalog folder then both the actual working catalog file then all of the backups for that catalog would of been deleted also. You could of done this not knowing what you were actually deleting when trying to clean up your hard drive

The Default location for the LR catalog file is in your User Name folder, in the Pictures subfolder then in another subfolder called Lightroom and all that is in the Users folder on the ROOT of the OS drive. That is true for both Windows and Mac OS X.

So if you had recently done some Computer House Cleaning that is where your LR catalog files went, IE Out with the TRASH.

Simple fact is IF for whatever reason there is NO LR Catalog file on your hard drive there is nothing anyone on this forum or at Adobe can do for you. You will need to start from scratch and create a catalog and import all your images into it.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 02, 2018 Apr 02, 2018

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I spent an hour going over this with Adobe tech support. He took control of my laptop and searched every way possible. Even checked the trash. NO LRCAT files existed. I use the same laptop every time. I did not delete any folder or files. When LR closes down each time it prompts to back up and I always say yes, but nothing exists.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 02, 2018 Apr 02, 2018

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Happened after CC update. I'm computer literate and know what not to delete. I'm not saying they magically dissipated. I'm saying that something in the update process caused the issue.

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LEGEND ,
Apr 02, 2018 Apr 02, 2018

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With a LR update it does not Delete catalog files.

Do you make regular backups of your complete system?

Do you know where the original catalog file was stored? IE on what drive and in what folder?

I'm sorry for my Snarkness but no File just disappears unless the user deleted it or the drive it was stored on is starting to fail.

There is no feature or option in LR to delete a catalog file. And no option or feature in any LR update, or Upgrade, package to Delete any catalog files. If anything a update will overwrite Program files. But the catalog file isn't stored with the program files so there is no way for it to overwrite it or delete it.

And with a Upgrade package they are installed into their own folder and not over the top of the previous version.

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LEGEND ,
Apr 02, 2018 Apr 02, 2018

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Oh and LR Catalog files don't just Suddenly Disappear. Just like no other file on your hard drive disappears. The only way for any file to go missing from your drive is if you the user deleted it or the drive is failing and they became corrupted.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2018 Jun 14, 2018

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Not only my catalogue but also all the presets I purchased! 

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New Here ,
Apr 03, 2018 Apr 03, 2018

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I've had to deal with a missing collection in the past week. Hours of work wasted, I had a deadline so needed to re-do the whole thing. And no reply from Adobe. However, one thing that has been suggested to me is the problem might be related to a Mac clean-up. I use Clean my Mac and it could be that they deleted back-ups or other important files. Might be worth checking for you too.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 03, 2018 Apr 03, 2018

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That could very well be the case. I'm using a PC, but also recently did a disk clean-up. I may do it again just to see if it selects the .lrcat files. No risk since I have not rebuilt anything.

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LEGEND ,
Apr 03, 2018 Apr 03, 2018

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There have been a few reports of similar situations, Lightroom catalog disappeared, backups disappeared, etc.

While I suppose it is remotely possible that this is a bug in Lightroom, I can't imagine why Adobe would include any code at all to delete a catalog file in the first place. It doesn't make sense.

This does sound to me like one of the following:

  1. Malware or virus
  2. User error
  3. Some sort of automated clean-up program deciding to get rid of files

In fact, if I had to pick one that I consider to be the most likely cause, I'd say it is number 1. Earlier I said it might be remotely possible that this is a bug in Lightroom, I'd consider that possibility way down on the list, perhaps number 127 on the above list.

So, I'd recommend running a malware and virus scan on your computer.

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New Here ,
Sep 19, 2018 Sep 19, 2018

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I have to chime in and say that this just happened to me as well. I am *highly* computer literate, understand directory structure, backups, and how to search for missing or deleted data. I also have regular backup operations installed on all of my computers.

Because I have been through the misery of a corrupted Lightroom catalog in the past, I have moved to a system of small subject matter catalogs. I manually backup my catalog folder ever couple of months. As of today, two of the subject matter catalogs (from a wedding and trip over the summer) just went *poof* and disappeared from the folder where I keep my catalogs. All of the older catalogs are still there, but the two newest are missing. Comprehensive drive searches do not show any .lrcat outside of those I know about.

Now, because of the way I handle my images, I have the pictures I originally placed in the catalog. I also have exports, including the edits I made in Lightroom, which I saved in Dropbox for sharing. But as to the actual catalogs, there is NO TRACE - INCLUDING IN AUTOMATED BACKUPS. My manual backups are there - but I only do them every couple of months, and these two catalogs hadn't been added yet.

This says to me that either Adobe was using some temp storage configuration or bugged cleanup routine in the catalog directory, that the files corrupt in a way that the system no longer recognizes them as valid files, or that some malware or computer cleaning program is manipulating/destroying .lrcat files for its own purposes. It means that I have a pretty serious weekend headache ahead of me scanning these machines.

If I find the solution I will report back. But as to the people that are offering the very unhelpful response that "this just does not happen," you are wrong. There are too many people like me reporting this here. And, looking at my personal directory structure in front of me right now, I can tell you there is a missing piece. As an IT professional, I agree that it is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen.

To those who may find this thread with this problem, I will only say that my practice now of having multiple catalogs and archiving them on a separate drive every couple of months just saved me this headache for 75,000 pictures. I suggest everyone manually back up their Lightroom catalogs - outside of the Adobe backup system - as well as performing regular Adobe backups.

Best of luck!

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LEGEND ,
Sep 19, 2018 Sep 19, 2018

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This says to me that either Adobe was using some temp storage configuration or bugged cleanup routine in the catalog directory, that the files corrupt in a way that the system no longer recognizes them as valid files, or that some malware or computer cleaning program is manipulating/destroying .lrcat files for its own purposes. It means that I have a pretty serious weekend headache ahead of me scanning these machines.


Adobe does no such thing. Malware does things like that. Bad sectors on your hard drive, and hard drive malfunction can do that.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 19, 2018 Sep 19, 2018

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As above. There is NO system, feature, option, in LR to delete catalogs. LR does not do any cleaning up of old or new catalogs except to Optimize them when either backing up or the User can run that from the File menu item Optimize Catalog.

Your corruption and deletions are cause by something else.

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New Here ,
Sep 28, 2018 Sep 28, 2018

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I updated Lightroom and ALL of my backups and catalog files were GONE. I was able to recover them in Backblaze (I think I'm missing some edits, but the majority are still there).  I'm not going to say it's the update but my experience is like everyone else who has posted - always backed up upon exiting Lightroom, Lightroom opened up as if it was brand new after an update and NO lrcat files were there, NO backups were found, and thank goodness for an automated backup system. I'm using a Windows PC and have Lightroom CC.

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