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I've run into the "unable to display" problem a few times, where I've moved photos from the SD card to my computer. Then when I put the SD card back in the camera, the files are out of sync with the internal database. I figured out a few ways to fix that (see below) but now I'm stuck with some videos which will not delete.

In the playback menu, the videos show up with a big question mark. When I click on them it says "unable to display". If I try to delete (singly or as multiple images) it says "deleting images..." but then it's still there, and the file counter is still the same.

Does anybody have an idea how to get rid of these phantom videos? Here's what I've tried so far, which was successful for cleaning up photos but not videos.

  1. The camera pops up an error when I first insert the SD card and offers to correct the problem. There is an ominous warning about damaging or deleting data which was added by another device, but it mostly works OK. If not... (or if I accidentally click cancel)
  2. Manually delete each phantom image. Delete by date doesn't work because the date is corrupted and appears as --/--/-1 I had about 2000 images, so I lost patience with this option fairly quickly...
  3. You can manually trigger the database recovery by doing: Menu - suitcase icon - 5 - Recover Image DB
  4. Apparently you can format the SD card, but I still have lots of other images on there, so I'd like to avoid that if possible

Bonus points for anyone who can come up with a good reason why Sony would have this database in the first place???

This is a Sony a6000, but I've read about the database issue with several other Sony cameras, so I don't think it's specific to this model.

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    The SD card you put in your camera isn't where you should keep you pictures. Cameras get stolen, SD cards fail and one days you'll lack space for that unmissable video. Do yourself a favor and copy the photos elsewhere. – xenoid Feb 20 at 7:18
  • Did you store photos and videos on computer? – Romeo Ninov Feb 20 at 7:57
  • @RomeoNinov yes, all the photos and videos are on the computer, but I still wouldn't mind keeping a copy of some of them on the SD card. I could go with the nuclear option, but that shouldn't be necessary and I'd really like to understand what's going on so it doesn't happen again. – craq Feb 20 at 8:15
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    Please don't use an SD card for any long term storage. It really isn't a little hard drive, but rather a little computer that simulates a file system. All kinds of things can go wrong. Assume an SD card can fail on you at any moment. – user31502 Feb 20 at 14:25
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    In my experience, Sony has the nastiest habits when it comes to databases and file management in general. I don't have this particular camera; my constant headache is to delete videos (from a dedicated Sony video camera) such that their numbering didn't reset. Anyway, the core database seems to be an XML file somewhere on the SD card, and sometimes I end up editing it manually. I don't have details at hand to write a proper answer (and it may not be directly applicable to A6000), but it's worth exploring if you are familiar with 'hacking' on such level. – Zeus Feb 21 at 0:13
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The best you can do (as your photos and videos are already downloaded on your computer) is to format the SD card. I had the same camera and I know Sony do very odd things (like databases, indexes and so on) on the card. Moreover when you attach the camera via USB you can't see the photos and videos and you should install on the computer a special Sony application.

One more point is that (usually) cameras work better when dealing with empty cards. The main reason for this is that cameras have limited space for "OS" and limited processor power. So they (usually) try to keep things as simple as possible.

For backup better use external disk, cloud storage. SD cards are not the right storage for backup purpose.

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Thanks to the suggestion from @Zeus, I managed to edit the XML file and make those phantom files disappear.

The XML file is in PRIVATE/M4ROOT/MEDIAPRO.XML (or if it's in a different location for your camera, just search for XML files). I simply removed the lines relating to the three videos I was trying to delete:

    <Material uri="./CLIP/C0006.MP4" type="MP4" videoType="AVC_1920_1080_HP@L42" audioType="LPCM16" fps="50p" dur="144" ch="2" aspectRatio="16:9" offset="0" umid="060A2B340101010501010D431300000064100C34288505C800AEFAFFFE7D3BEE">
        <RelevantInfo uri="./CLIP/C0006M01.XML" type="XML"/>
        <RelevantInfo uri="./THMBNL/C0006T01.JPG" type="JPG"/>
    </Material>
    <Material uri="./CLIP/C0007.MP4" type="MP4" videoType="AVC_1920_1080_HP@L42" audioType="LPCM16" fps="50p" dur="312" ch="2" aspectRatio="16:9" offset="0" umid="060A2B340101010501010D431300000002E41234288505CD00AEFAFFFE7D3BEE">
        <RelevantInfo uri="./CLIP/C0007M01.XML" type="XML"/>
        <RelevantInfo uri="./THMBNL/C0007T01.JPG" type="JPG"/>
    </Material>
    <Material uri="./CLIP/C0008.MP4" type="MP4" videoType="AVC_1920_1080_HP@L42" audioType="LPCM16" fps="50p" dur="2280" ch="2" aspectRatio="16:9" offset="0" umid="060A2B340101010501010D4313000000B4CE6436288505D400AEFAFFFE7D3BEE">
        <RelevantInfo uri="./CLIP/C0008M01.XML" type="XML"/>
        <RelevantInfo uri="./THMBNL/C0008T01.JPG" type="JPG"/>
    </Material>

I then went and deleted the thumbnails from PRIVATE/M4ROOT/THMBNL/ because I didn't know about those until I read the XML file.

If you go with this suggestion, it might be worthwhile making a backup of your XML file before you edit it, and checking the syntax afterwards (e.g. with xmllint).

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