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Catalog download mixed up photos/collections

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New Member
Dec 27, 2022
Lightroom Version Number
Classic 11.5 on Catalina, Mobile 8.1.0 BA494D/17 on iOS 16.1.1
Operating System
  1. Windows 10
  2. macOS 10.15 Catalina
Hi Everyone, this is my first post. I'm unable to find my problem elsewhere, so I can't find a solution. I'll try to be as concise as possible.

I had to download my Lightroom cloud content after my catalog and backups were accidentally deleted. Merging the old catalog with my new catalog caused a host of problems, particularly that synced collections from before the deletion have lost about half of their photos, chosen seemingly at random, and replaced with other photos from older collections. Everything from before I had to start a new catalog is mixed up in many ways. One example, the exact photo in a collection saved to my phone from mobile is correct, but that same photo when I open my computer with the Lightroom (cloud) app is different, and even flashes the original photo before changing into a different photo. Smart previews are mixed up, EXIF data is mixed up, where a 200mm lens says it was a 600mm lens, and vice versa. I don't know if it can be fixed, and I'm preparing myself to start completely over, knowing full well my edits will be gone, but at least I'll be organized again. Everything added and synced after the new catalog was created have zero problems.

The Long Story...
The problems started when I had Windows 10 update problems. A repeated, failed update prevented Lightroom from updating, which was required to continue syncing any photos, as the required Lightroom update was incompatible with my version of Windows, which couldn't update due to some stupid Windows thing (concise, I know). Eventually, I got Windows updated and working, but in that process, my Lightroom Catalog and its backups were deleted. Without said backups, I had to start a new catalog. The software asked if I wanted to download and merge my previous cloud data and merge it with the new catalog (if I remember correctly, this is an old problem), so I though "of course I want all my old photos back!" However, I soon got stuck at a particular number of photos that wouldn't sync. I'd see all my recent photos had synced, but then it would be stuck at, say "43,576 photos" that would never sync.

After googling and googling, I found a solution to this "frozen sync" issue, meanwhile I had noticed smart previews wouldn't match some photos that had been downloaded and merged. Then I noticed whole photos were being swapped out from other collections. That collection of Christmas from 2020? Now half of them are bird photos or photos from various other collections. That collection from the Wildlife Preserve in 2019? Half are random photos from random collections. When I found a solution to the frozen sync problem, I brought my number of unsynced photos to about 2000, but the mix/match problem progressed. I found a bunch of photos of my sister's kids for a christmas gift, and I rated them so I could search for them by rating, because searching by collection was too unreliable with this problem. But in the middle of all that, those photos started changing, too, even if I searched by description, like "child" or "kid." Well, that great photo of my nephew that I found in this search is now a photo of a bird. On my phone app, that photo is still my nephew. On my desktop app, it's a bird, despite being in the same location in the order when flipping through photos. When I use the arrow key to move through photos, that photo of my nephew flashes on the screen for a split second before turning into the photo of the bird, like an echo of what is supposed to be there. Photos from one collection are not swapped with the photo they replaced, but seemingly any other random photo. It's all mixed up with no rhyme or reason. Half of the photos of collections labeled by Camera/Film/Lens don't belong there.

I'm hoping there is some sort of recovery from within the cloud that will somehow bring order back to the chaos, but I don't think there is. I think I'll have to start and all new catalog, lose all my edits, and settle for the fact that at least everything is together and orderly again. I save everything, and I shoot raw, so I'm now running into portable hard drive capacity limits, and I'll have to use two hard drives to create my catalog and sync it, then acknowledge that if i want access to a file from a couple years ago instead of just being able to download it from mobile, I'll need to sit at my computer and plug in the older hard drive so the catalog can find it if needed. I take my computer with me a lot, so a hard drive that needs an external power source is far from ideal.

Has anyone encountered this problem?
I'm now on a Mac running Catalina still (i will update soon), and LR is 11.5.
I use Classic for all my organizing and syncing. I use Mobile for all the rest.

Thanks in advance,
Wow, you have a lot of things to work out. By the looks of it, you are more than halfway - in the move from one OS to another OS. Good on you. I have nothing to give, to help your situation. I read all this twice to be sure of that. I can only give advice on how not to end up in the same place in the future. But I have a feeling you found many answers already.

I have always stressed to all those who may listen. Data must be stored on a different Drive than the OS.

I wish you a happier New Year, and I hope you find a solution to your LrC woes.
I had to download my Lightroom cloud content
When I read this, I fear you misunderstand how Catalogs work in LrC.
Lightroom Cloud catalogs bear no relationship with LrC catalogs and cannot be downloaded.
Photos synced up to the Cloud from LrC are not full-size files, and in no way, are they to be considered a "Backup" or downloadable files.
I think you should work solely with your LrC Catalog and the files you have in your 'local' system drives until you sort it out. Only then will you try to re-establish links with the Cloud Catalog.
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