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Recover jpegs from previews--no catalog

Aloysf

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Hi, thanks in advance to anyone who can help me!
I have a bunch of 1:1 previews from a hard drive that was damaged, so I have no originals. I also lost the .lrcat files that porganize the 1:1 previews. I have installed the preview recovery script Adobe recommends, but because I have no lrcat files, Adobe will not recognize the previews.

Does anyone know how to create a catalog if you only have previews and don't have nef's?

Thanks!
 

Aloysf

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or if anyone knows a way to build previews into jpegs by bypassing the lrcat entirely that would also be great
 
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Are you a programmer (C#)? Reading the preview files is not very tough, they are JPG's stacked one on top of the other inside a file. Not trivial and I know of no good way to do it (say) at a command line, but I've read them directly.

This program is one I use for validation: LRValidate - Validate Images for Adobe Lightroom(R) - Home (Note that link will change to github in a few weeks or months)

Look at the routine GetPreview (2nd one) inside FindPreviewForImage.cs. Note it is using the preview database based on the original catalog (there is a separate SQLite catalog in the preview area). It has info on sizes, orientation, etc., but I can't recall anything there which would allow you to determine file name or original folder location. But you could just dump the largest JPG from every file into another file of arbitrary name and review the content afterwards.

Postscript: For clarity -- the program mentioned is NOT a recovery program by any means. I tis a validation program that happens to have as a tiny component a routine that reads previews. Do not just try to run it, it won't do you any good; it's only useful to a C# programmer to help developing a new program.
 

Aloysf

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Wow, thanks ferguson. I'm not a programmer, just an average photographer looking to recover some files I only have as previews. Long story. All I want is the Jpegs, so I will try to give your fix a go. Not sure if I still have the SQLite catalog, but if I can get around that and just reconstruct the jpegs I'll be a happy camper. I'll give it a try and report back.
 
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Wow, thanks ferguson. I'm not a programmer, just an average photographer looking to recover some files I only have as previews. Long story. All I want is the Jpegs, so I will try to give your fix a go. Not sure if I still have the SQLite catalog, but if I can get around that and just reconstruct the jpegs I'll be a happy camper. I'll give it a try and report back.
So I'm really sorry I posted the link as I may have provided confusion -- what I posted is if no use to a non-programmer in terms of preview recovery.

I have too many things on my plate to try to write a program right now, maybe it's worth doing for someone else, or if I get some spare time I may do so.

Hopefully someone already HAS a program to do the recovery without the catalog and will speak up.
 

Aloysf

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OK, thanks for trying man. I appreciate it.
 
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OK, I may have a solution for you. I found a bit of spare time, wrote a program, and pushed it up to github. My first attempt at getting a windows program pushed to github, so it's a bit rough.

First, download the executable. You'll get all sorts of complaints because downloading an executable is usually a bad idea, your anti-virus may object, the browser, etc. You are welcome to download the source and build it yourself, which is generally safer, but if you aren't a programmer that's not practical, so you can either trust this link, or not. :)

https://github.com/Linwood-F/DumpJPGs/raw/master/DumpJPGs/bin/x64/Debug/DumpJPGs.exe

Those who want the project file itself: GitHub - Linwood-F/DumpJPGs

I'm going to assume it comes down into a folder like this: c:\users\yourname\downloads\ If that's not where you save it, adjust the below as needed.

First, create a place to hold the new files. Let's call that "c:\junk" but it can have any name you like, just adjust as needed below.

Now find your lightroom preview folder. I'm going to assume it is here: "c:\stuff\stuff previews.lrdata"

The application is a console application, i.e. you run it from the command prompt, so you need to open a command prompt first. In the command prompt do this:

c:\users\yourname\downloads\DumpJPGs.exe "c:\stuff\stuff previews.lrdata" "c:\junk"

It should scroll by and do all the extracts it can. When it can't, it will skip the file and tell you. You should get a pike of output like this:

Wrote output file for c:\stuff\stuff Previews.lrdata\F\F8F6\F8F60553-DF8C-469C-8AE1-95632FE8CC40-65a72aa533bfc8f4d63600c2a4040288.lrprev as c:\junk\20170925-121923-F8F60553-DF8C-469C-8AE1-95632FE8CC40-65a72aa533bfc8f4d63600c2a4040288.jpg

The resulting file is a jpg you can look at with any image browser. The first part of the name is the date and time OF THE PREVIEW, that means it is likely the date/time of the last time you edited the photo. The file names are not known because this presumes you do not have a catalog. Worse, there's no metadata in these previews because Adobe does not copy the metadata into previews, so there is zero information available to help you, you have to look at each image and catalog it appropriately. The long letter part of the name relates to the preview filename -- it's not particularly useful though you can track back to that file if needed.

You can also run this against a small part of the preview folder just to see what it does, for example:

c:\users\yourname\downloads\DumpJPGs.exe "c:\stuff\stuff previews.lrdata\0\0C87" "c:\junk"

The extra \0\0C87 is one folder I found in my file, your names will be different. This would let you test, but you can just run them all and it should loop through thousands of files if needed (you need plenty of space in the output folder if so).

It's kind of quick and dirty, if you find bugs let me know I'll try to adjust.

It's 64 bit only, hopefully you are 64 bit. I don't have a 32 bit to test on, but can probably create code for it if really needed (honestly in today's hardware no one should be running 32 bit any more).
 
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Oh, you need .Net Framework 4.5.2 installed for this to run, I think it's probably there with Windows 10, but if not

Download Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.2 (Offline Installer) for Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 from Official Microsoft Download Center

Hmmm.. that doesn't mention windows 10, but I think it's on 10. Try without, if not try that link, if that won't work let me know.
 

Aloysf

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Wow man, that's incredible! I'll give it a go sometime in the next couple of days when I have an opportunity. Thanks a lot! I'll let you know how it goes.
 

Aloysf

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Hey-- I finally had time to run the .exe. It seems to be working perfectly! I'll try recovering everything sometime tomorrow or the day after, but I did a test run of about 200 previews and there don;t seem to be any bugs. This is really incredible! You rule man.
 

Aloysf

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Recovered 17,000 images and that's just from last night.
 

Aloysf

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Haha. Just looking for a few specific files, thank goodness. Fortunately the drive the RAWs were on committed suicide after most of my clients had gotten their stuff.
 

Sports Traits

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Just found this post and joined the forum just so I could send a huge shout out to Ferguson! Thanks so much for sharing your program. I am not a programmer and I was able to follow your instructions to rescue a friends wedding photos that they transferred to my PC from their iPhone. Unbeknown to me, the photos deleted from the phone as I imported them in Lightroom. I later deleted images that I didn't plan on using in her project and she rang me a few days later to let me know that they were no longer on her phone ...oops.

The program is still running and has so far found 50,000 images which I will have to go through to find the 700 I need to restore but it's a small price to pay!
 
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Glad you found it useful. I don't envy you looking through all those, but I guess that's better than the alternative. With luck maybe you had done a 1:1 preview and might find full size jpgs. I just hope that LR had not gotten aggressive and already purged them when you deleted the image -- it does do so eventually.

Linwood
 

Sports Traits

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Glad you found it useful. I don't envy you looking through all those, but I guess that's better than the alternative. With luck maybe you had done a 1:1 preview and might find full size jpgs. I just hope that LR had not gotten aggressive and already purged them when you deleted the image -- it does do so eventually.

Linwood
Hi Linwood - I didn't have 1:1 previews but 1920 x 1080 which is OK to put back on my friends phone. I was lucky enough to rescue them all and have now learnt about 1:1 previews and have changed my Lightroom preferences accordingly. Thank you once again for the program, I'm so pleased to have found it!
 
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