Lightroom Glitch

I wanted to go through some older files for a project today and when I tried to navigate to them in Lightroom. I discovered that the contents of three of my external hard drives had been scrambled in the Lightroom Catalog. I use 4 external drives of which 1, 2, and 3 have various years on them and 4 is waiting to be used. All of a sudden, the contents of #2 were showing on 1 and 4 and the contents of #1 were showing on 2. All, of course were grayed out with ? after them to indicate that LR couldn’t find the files. I finally have most of it straightened out by going through each year and pointing LR to the proper location, but I’m unable to understand how it happened in the first place. I checked backup catalogs and the last three showed the same problem. I then went back to just before the last big LR update when they changed the catalog file system. Unfortunately, that was inconclusive because to use it it had to be converted to the new system, so now I’m totally confused.

Anyone have any ideas?

By the way, I discovered that when LR creates a backup catalog it never seems to get deleted. I have them going back to 2017, so I think I can free up some drive space.

I’m going to guess you are on a Windows system. Windows identifies drives by letter and consequently, LR does the same thing. When you plug in drives you could very easily get drives in a different order than LR knew about them in the catalog. That would explain why it looked scrambled in the LR catalog. The catalog certainly won’t scramble things, but if the drive letters don’t match the catalog, then things will look odd. You can go into Windows and specify that a drive is pinned to a specific drive letter. Can’t tell you exactly where as I run a Mac, but I’ve done it with clients who have had the same issue.

Yes, the catalog backups are not automatically deleted. I wrote a script for my Mac that brings up my LR catalog backup destination folder when I exit LR. It flags any backup that is older than 15 days old in red and selects it so all I have to do is delete them. Of course if I want to keep it, I just do nothing. I think that is a significant hole that Adobe needs to address in a more consistent manner. I’ve worked with clients who literally had thousands of backups from years and years ago.

Thanks, Keith. I’d run into the issue you mention some time ago, but I use an external array now and it’s been consistent about keeping them in the same order when I disconnect reconnect (which I have to do for major updates because I don’t have the bandwidth to do them at home). Since Windows also updated itself recently it may have unpinned them during the update. I’ll check on that.

@Keith_Bauer That was the issue. Since I’d already repointed to everything in LR, the only way to do it was to change the letters of the drives in the disc management system, then change them back. In the process of doing it, I remembered having to do it in the past. I don’t know how it got forgotten in the system, but it’s a nuisance.