Question in regards to History dissappearing

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New Member
May 28, 2014
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Hey everyone, hoping somebody can help me out.

I found this forum from searching for some help with an issue I'm having and it seems pretty awesome.

So, I have terabytes of pictures and do all of my editing on my laptop. I keep the most recent 500GB of pictures on my laptop, anything older than that goes on a 750GB USB HDD. Anything past that I don't have easy access to.

On 2 separate 2TB HDDs I keep a complete backup of all my photos.

Recently I needed to move some files off of my USB HDD. I've done this a few times. I deleted them from the HDD and then when I was ready to put them back, a few weeks later, I copied them back over from one of my 2TB HDD's. Like, I said, I've done this a few times without issue.

Usually when I delete the files off my USB HDD in Lightroom, I get a greyed out folder icon in my Library with a Question Mark beside it, and when I right click on it it says "Find Missing Folder...". When I put the files back this greyed out Folder with a Question mark disappears. If it doesn't I just navigate to the missing folder and Lightroom restores it, along with the history of the edits I've done on those files.

This time however, this did not happen.

When I put the folders back the folders are stayed greyed out. Instead of showing a Question Mark and the number of files that are supposed to be in the folder they are showing neither. When I click on the folder it says "No photos in selected folder"

When I right click on the folder it gives me the option to "Synchronize Folder...". I've done this, and the photos appear back in it again, but none of the history of my edits of those pictures gets restored.

Does anyone know anything about this issue? Some of the edits that are missing are really important to me and I'd like to retrieve them. I'm using Lightroom 5.2 and have the last 3 backups. I'd like to restore the edit history for the missing files without losing the edits I've done on newer files in the last few weeks.

I've attached a screenshot of the issue. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.



  • Lightroom52_folder_issue.jpg
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Leigh, from what I can tell you are probably loosing your history when moving the images between hard drives. I'm reading between the lines a bit, but it sounds like you are moving the files with your operating system (outside of Lightroom). This is what is causing Lightroom to give you the Missing Folders error message. When you point LR to the new location it usually does a good job of locating and "re-indexing" your images into the Lightroom catalog. Unfortunately, it appears that somewhere along the way you may have re-imported the files into your catalog giving LR the impression that these were new images with no edits. (Just a guess)

FYI - you edits are not stored with the image files, they are stored in the LR Catalogue file.

In the future, you should consider moving your files between drives within Lightroom. This way your image files will be moved to the external drive of your choice and LR will know exactly where you placed them and retain all of the edits you made along the way. In addition, you will still be able to see the thumbnails and image previews for all of the images in your collection, even when the drives are not attached. You just won't be able to make edits until the external drives are attached.
Recently I needed to move some files off of my USB HDD. I've done this a few times. I deleted them from the HDD and then when I was ready to put them back, a few weeks later, I copied them back over from one of my 2TB HDD's. Like, I said, I've done this a few times without issue.

Nothing wrong with this; I work in a similar fashion sometimes.

But it looks like in this case, rather than deleting the files/folders outside of Lightroom, you deleted the files (not the folders) within Lightroom. I can tell because the file counts are zero for each of those folders. In the process, you've deleted all the editing history for those files, unless you've also written out the XMP data (by pressing Control-S or enabling "Automatically write changes into XMP" in Catalog Settings).

So assuming you haven't written the XMP data (and I believe you haven't, or Synchronizing would have worked), you'll need to restore a backup copy of your catalog from before you deleted the files from Lightroom.

In the future, if you wish to work this way, copy the folders outside of Lightroom, then use Update Folder Location or Find Missing Folder to tell Lightroom about the new location for the folders. (It's much easier to work with whole folders than individual files when working like this.)
@Packhorse-4: You are correct I use a different program for moving files. I do this as I move files that aren't necessarily used within Lightroom.

@Mark Sirota: The issue I have is that, if I don't need access to those folders for the coming weeks or months I don't assign them a new location. I don't like pointing Lightroom to my 2TB backup drives as these are static copies that I don't edit.

Here's the question I guess. Does Lightroom eventually "forget" files that have been missing for an extended period of time?

I know for a fact that I did not delete these files from within Lightroom, but they have been "missing" or moved to a different location for at least the past few months. Will Lightroom eventually remove missing files?

I checked a backup catalog from the start of April and I can see that the history for the missing folders is not in that either.
There's no need to point LR to the backup copy, then -- if you're sure you've got backups, you can just remove the primary copy of the folders and let LR think they're missing, then put them back when you need them. That should work fine. LR will happily stay that way forever; it won't automagically "clean up".

But in this case, whether you meant to or not, it seems that's not what you did. If you had, the folder counts would not be zero -- they'd still show all the files, but the folders would be listed as missing. I'm afraid I don't have anything good to tell you if your oldest backup doesn't have the data you're looking for, but I wouldn't let this discourage you from continuing to work this way. Just be sure, when you're deleting that primary copy, you do it OUTSIDE Lightroom.

That said, I don't understand your reluctance to point LR to the backup copies. Seems a lot easier to me than copying the folders back to their original location when you need them.

(You'll hear from lots of people that you should never manipulate files or folders outside of Lightroom. That's hogwash; it's just a simplification meant to help those who don't know what they're doing keep out of trouble. If you're careful and understand what's happening, there's really nothing wrong with it.)
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