Lightroom (LR) lesson

Do you back up your photos? Do you keyword them religiously and then back up your catalogue? I do. And my goodness I am grateful today.

Mrs. Ha (who is unwell still) sent me 3 images today. From her iPhone. I thought I would be a dutiful husband and file them under August 3rd. Except LR couldn’t see them. How I did it doesn’t matter. But I lost 50,000 files in a matter of a mouse click. All I was left with was Mrs. Ha’s three.

But of course LR is a database. There are no photos in LR. It sounded simple enough. Just point LR back to my external hard drive. It sort of started to work but lost my sub-folders. So I stopped, thunk again and second time got it right. It still takes a while to import 50,000 files to a database.

Then I had to pray that my catalogue back-ups had worked. Well I was 5 days out so I have less than a week of keywording to redo. But work it did. From disaster to salvation in about 8 hours. I actually have 3 copies of my images. One is automated through TimeMachine, another is the original files on my so-called Red Drive and then a further copy of the RD on the creatively named Blue Drive. It does not contain any blue movies, honestly.

But what if I had not backed up my catalogue? Well I would have had to keyword 50,000 images again. I think I would have said a naughty word. So if you use LR and have a catalog you have not backed up in a while – it is so tempting to click on “skip this time” – do yourself a favour. Back it up NOW. And whilst LR is only a database, do make sure you have at least 2 copies of all your precious images.

I’m off to bed. Lesson over. Phew!!!!!!!




33 thoughts on “Lightroom (LR) lesson

  1. What a scary situation. I’m so pleased that you have managed to recapture your library of photos. Thanks for the warning. Best wishes to Mrs. Ha.

  2. Shock horror, indeed! Enough to give you a heart attack! Sorry to hear Mrs.Ha is still unwell too.
    Best wishes.

  3. Andrew;
    I stand back in awe. What can I say about your 50 000 files and back ups? I am only now getting used to editing a couple of photos on my IPhone and press ‘save’.

  4. I’ve always fallen behind on my cataloging and backups. But I have a plethora of 8 and 16GB cards that are immediately downloaded upon arriving home but they do not get formatted until all files have been archived. I am now doing three months…down to two…and almost out of cards. :-O

    I have yet to get friendly with LR. One of these days. I am happy you were able to achieve success. The consequences could have been disastrous.

  5. I have no idea what you’re talking about – other than that people to whom their images are important should back them up.
    This software – which so may bloggers are madly in love with (Emilio in particular) – appears to have its own glitches, inasmuch as it allowed you to ‘delete’ 50,000 photos.
    Still, there’s the bad and the good, eh, Andrew ?
    Goodonyer for being sensible, mate !!

    • If I had deleted the photos themselves M.R. I think I would have had a complete breakdown. I need to understand this cloud thingy.

  6. Your bark is better than your bytes almost lost

    I save my images on an external stove which is backed up on time machine ( second external drive) and we keep a copy on Susan’s Mac too which is also backed up to time machine (but same TM drive as mine).

    I use the IPhoto catalogue I’ve been too nervous to transfer catalogue duties to Photoshop and haven’t found the need for LR given the quality of my images and limited appreciation of post editing.

    Glad you are fully recovered photographically speaking

  7. My husband is a very assiduous backer-upper. He recently had a run-in with iPhoto having inadvertently asked them to add all 8,000 of his pics to an email. It was a comfort to know, as we tried to persuade the machine to stop trying to accomplish this task, that none of the brutal things we did would result in lost data. He has Time Machine and a hard drive kept elsewhere, which he copies to once a month. I will try and be less erratic after these warnings.

  8. My pictures are nowhere nearly as wonderful as yours, Andrew, but if that had happened to me, my blood pressure would have tapped out. Our backup has been on the fritz since the thunderstorms and lightning that split a huge tree in half in the park directly behind our house.
    I’m glad you could redeem your files.
    My best wishes to your wife as she recovers.

    • Thanks Marylin. Several people have suggested using the cloud as a back up. But the photos themselves were safe enough. It was all the info attached to them that was worrying me – scientific names, locations, all my tags. I could not bear to redo that.

  9. Oh horrors, this week is a bad week. I lost 1,000+ images this week from a pendrive, managed to recover about 70% using ‘pencrive’ recovery software. I was out of my mind, many of the photos were of Emmylee’s early days (recovered). They were actually backups, that I hadn’t rebacked up after a HD crash and recovered from that drive… Oh it gets so complicated.


  10. That could have been enough to send you to hospital again! EEK!

    I do back up religiously. But I do not key word. I don’t want to think of the work involved in that…

    sleep well.

  11. From disaster to salvation in about 8 hours! That’s something to shout about. Hallelujah!

    Andrew, I walked away from my entire catalogue of black and white negatives — thousands of ’em — some decades ago. So many images so little time.

    I’ll say it again but in a different way: That butterfly you posted on Facebook yesterday is iconic. Rests with me like an archetype.


    • I still have lots of B&W negs my father took, Eb. I think I may even know where they are. I should dig them out, put them on a light box and look at what is there.

      • I ‘lost’ all of my professional newspaper work, my advertising field photography for the inland towing industry, my family photos, my experimental work pushing Tri-X to asa 1600 and beyond — and haven’t looked back with much regret. There are enough b&w prints around to keep the family history alive. Slowly, year by year, I’m beginning to discard the relics.

  12. I’m glad you were able to get all your keywords back. I never thought about using Lightroom as a photo database (I do some photo processing in Linux, though). I archive photos in their raw state and use a text document to describe them. – back this up on an external drive, DVDs and the cloud.

    Nice, useful entry, thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for commenting Bill. I ought to use the cloud but I worry about security and to be honest I have not explored the cost. I should investigate more.

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