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Lost Keywords during backup and restore

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Kvc3509

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Joined
Apr 1, 2022
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7
Lightroom Version Number
Lightroom Classic version 11.2
Operating System
  1. Windows 11
The full story: My older Windows desktop was dying 2 years ago, so I backed up LRCAT and photo files to external HDD. Re-loaded all that onto internal 2TB SSD of new desktop, and everything seemed to work fine. However, looking through some older files a year or so ago, I realized that while all of the old photos seemed to transfer fine, I was missing the associated keywords. Kept meaning to sort that out and figure out how to recapture those missing keywords, but I kept postponing that task. You can probably see where this is heading. Now two years later, lots of new imported photos with their keywords, and my internal SSD is 99% full.

So it would seem I should back up everything from the SSD to a new blank external 5GB HDD, which I intend to become the new home for the image files while the LRCAT files will reside on the internal SSD (at least I have read that can work without slowing down LR too much). Before I do that, however, I want to make another attempt to recover those lost keywords from the previous external backup HDD. Two years ago, I made both Norton 360 backups as well as specific copies of LR folders and files.

Any guidance on first how to recover those lost keywords, so what resides on my desktop now will be as complete as possible? Then guidance on how to do this next shuffle, leaving the LRCAT on the internal SSD while moving all image files to a new external HHD, so I don't just repeat whatever mistake I made two years ago. Thank you.
 
Since associated keywords are stored in the catalog (a database), I doubt than the lost has been caused by the restore of the catalog.

I would suggest to open the old backup catalog and check if the associated keywords are there. I strongly suspect they're not. You don't need to have the correct photo links in the backup catalog, just copy it in a temporary folder and open it, then go to your old photos (even if there is no preview) and check the keywords.
 
As Philipe says All the keywords are stored in the catalog file. The Catalog file that you used to restore should have keywords associated with all of the oldest images UNLESS you removed those associations in Lightroom Classic before you save that catalog file.

Are the keyword present in the keyword list but not associated with the images that you were expecting them to have?

Can you find the keywords associated with the images that you expect in an older catalog backup file? (You can unzip and open Lightroom catalogs separately to see what they contain.). I once hat to go back 6 months to find a backup that contained missing keywords after I accidentally removed them from over 2000 image files.
 
Since associated keywords are stored in the catalog (a database), I doubt than the lost has been caused by the restore of the catalog.

I would suggest to open the old backup catalog and check if the associated keywords are there. I strongly suspect they're not. You don't need to have the correct photo links in the backup catalog, just copy it in a temporary folder and open it, then go to your old photos (even if there is no preview) and check the keywords.
When I attempt to open the old catalog from the backup HDD, LR says that I need to relaunch. It also says it needs to upgrade the old catalog to be compatible with my current version of LR Classic, and notes that previews will also be moved to the new location where the upgraded backup catalog will be located (i..e., the external backup drive). Safe to let LR upgrade the old catalog?
 
Yes.
 
When I attempt to open the old catalog from the backup HDD, LR says that I need to relaunch. It also says it needs to upgrade the old catalog to be compatible with my current version of LR Classic, and notes that previews will also be moved to the new location where the upgraded backup catalog will be located (i..e., the external backup drive). Safe to let LR upgrade the old catalog?
OK, partial success. LR upgraded the old backup catalog, and the library view now shows an array of blank photos. But when I click on a particular one for which the keywords are absent on the current desktop LR, the old keywords are there. Hurray!

So is there a safe way to merge that old catalog (with the keywords for the older photos) with my current catalog (which is missing the keywords for the older photos but does have all new photos with keywords since March 2020)? In other words, the backup catalog holds the keywords for photos at the time I backed up and changed computers in Mar 2020. The current desktop holds all the image files and has keywords for all images that were imported after the computer switch in March 2020.

Thank you Philippe and Cletus - I feel like I am finally making some tangible progress to getting my keyword chaos back under control. Kevin
 
So is there a safe way to merge that old catalog (with the keywords for the older photos) with my current catalog …
Yes, you need to try to identify the photos in the master catalog that are missing keywords. If you are lucky, they were assigned to a single Collection that exists in both catalogs.

For me I had deleted all keywords from a number if photos So it was possible to find the photos with no keywords earlier than a certain date.

Having identified the images that had no keywords I selected them from the backup containing the keywords.

Next step was to “Export as a Catalog” these selected images from the backup catalog.

The final step is to use the “Import From Another Catalog” function to Import the Exported catalog into the Master catalog. This should restore the keywords.

This Exported catalog may contain an edit history different from the current edit history. If it does, for those image where the edit history differs, the “Import From Another Catalog” function will create Virtual copies of (I believe) the most recent Edit History.

The reason the backup that you opened shows blank thumbnails is the Preview file is missing in the folder where you opened the. Backup catalog file. This is not important since you are only interested in the data in the catalog file.


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Yes, you need to try to identify the photos in the master catalog that are missing keywords. If you are lucky, they were assigned to a single Collection that exists in both catalogs.

For me I had deleted all keywords from a number if photos So it was possible to find the photos with no keywords earlier than a certain date.

Having identified the images that had no keywords I selected them from the backup containing the keywords.

Next step was to “Export as a Catalog” these selected images from the backup catalog.

The final step is to use the “Import From Another Catalog” function to Import the Exported catalog into the Master catalog. This should restore the keywords.

This Exported catalog may contain an edit history different from the current edit history. If it does, for those image where the edit history differs, the “Import From Another Catalog” function will create Virtual copies of (I believe) the most recent Edit History.

The reason the backup that you opened shows blank thumbnails is the Preview file is missing in the folder where you opened the. Backup catalog file. This is not important since you are only interested in the data in the catalog file.


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Thank you. This will take me some time to figure out exactly which ones are missing keywords. Hopefully it turns out to be directly tied to a specific time period. Kevin
 
Thank you. This will take me some time to figure out exactly which ones are missing keywords. Hopefully it turns out to be directly tied to a specific time period. Kevin

It may help to create a Smart Collection
{keywords}{does not Contain}{ a e i o u}
And then add a date limiting criteria to narrow it down.


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Thank you. This will take me some time to figure out exactly which ones are missing keywords. Hopefully it turns out to be directly tied to a specific time period. Kevin
OK, it looks like all photos prior to May 2020 are missing keywords, all photos subsequent to that date have keywords (using the LRCAT on my internal SSD). Because I have everything arranged by folder (e.g., Kenya 2019, Turks and Caicos diving 1999, etc.), not sure how to select those particular folders based on a date cutoff (because lists the folders in alphabetical order). FYI, we are talking 110,000+ photos in total, of which the recent ones WITH keywords are only approx 10,000 photos. Kevin
 
OK, it looks like all photos prior to May 2020 are missing keywords, all photos subsequent to that date have keywords (using the LRCAT on my internal SSD). Because I have everything arranged by folder (e.g., Kenya 2019, Turks and Caicos diving 1999, etc.), not sure how to select those particular folders based on a date cutoff (because lists the folders in alphabetical order). FYI, we are talking 110,000+ photos in total, of which the recent ones WITH keywords are only approx 10,000 photos. Kevin

Use a Smart Collection to limit the date range. And another vote for the benefits of using a date named folder scheme and using collections to group images instead of folders.


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Use a Smart Collection to limit the date range. And another vote for the benefits of using a date named folder scheme and using collections to group images instead of folders.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Most but not all of my folders have sub-folders by date, so it should not be a problem to create a collection limited by date. But I have a strategy/workflow question. Since the more recent images have the keywords attached and those images post March 2020 form only 10% of my total images, it seems like I should first move those recent images off to an external drive, and then use the backup HDD from March 2020 to replace the LRCAT file for all the other images (the 100K worth of them). I would leave the images in places on the internal SSD and replace the LRCAT with the version from the March 2020 backup HDD that does contain all the keywords. Once I get that correct LRCAT linked to the images, then I can move all of the image files from the internal SSD to the new external 5GB HDD. The restored LRCAT would stay on the desktop's internal SSD. But it seems like I would then have two different LRCAT files - one for the pre-3/2020 images with all keywords attached, and a different LRCAT for post-3/2020 images, also with keywords attached. Not sure how to go about merging those two LRCATs, but maybe I don't need to if I maintain two large collections (simplistically pre-2020 and 2020 thru current). I want to make sure I have the right strategy and workflow in my head before I start moving pieces, as that is how I went astray before.
 
And I guess my previous email raises another question or three.

If I create a Collection of just the images from March 2020 and more recent, with the intent of moving those to an external HDD for now, does the creation of a collection also create a separate LRCAT file for just those post-2020 images.?

If it does, then I can move those post-2020 images safely to an external drive, move the backed-up version of the LRCAT to the internal SSD, link that LRCAT file to the associated images so they now have keywords, and then move that set (all images prior to Mar 2020) to the external HDD. At that point, it is possible to merge the LRCAT files and images files back into a single LR library?

Or with 100K+ images, should I be thinking of separate collections anyway?
 
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