I have my images and my LR catalog saved on an external SSD so that I can work on them from multiple computers. Someday I needed more storage on the internal main hard drive build into my computer where Lightroom is installed but no images are saved. I saw that there is a 15 GB Lightroom Cache file that I deleted. I thought the file could only contain the previews of my images at most. After recycling the file I saw that multiple folders on my external SSD with images are lost. Lightroom has all the previews for those images but I cant seem to find anything on my SSD. They are all gone. Multiple folders which are not related to each other and in complete different directories. How can they all be gone? I did not delete anything on that SSD.

I used Recuva to try to restore my images but there seems to be not a trace of them at all.

At this point in time I dont have any backup of my images (I know ...).

  • 1
    Sorry to hear about the lack of backup and subsequent dataloss. To me it's not clear what your current question is. Could you perhaps see if you can edit your post to include a clear question? Oct 19 '21 at 16:13
  • Are you missing files from directories or from catalog? How old is this SSD disk? Oct 19 '21 at 16:52
  • From the directories themselves. The SSD is a two year old SanDisk SSD Plus that I bought brand new.
    – Arjihad
    Oct 19 '21 at 17:09
  • @Arjihad, if you constantly write to this disk 2 hours per day you should check what is the health of the SSD. Oct 19 '21 at 19:23
  • everytime you quit Lightroom, it makes a backup of the catalog, so you should have a backup file at the location you indicated.
    – cmason
    Nov 18 '21 at 20:33

What you are describing cannot happen. You can delete/clear the cache files w/o issue; but it is better to do that from within lightroom.

There are two other associated files; the lrdata file which holds the previews, and the lrcat file, which stores your image edits and the image locations. Even if you deleted all of those it would not delete the original images located on the external SSD.

It sounds like you will have to start over with a new import/catalog, but you may be able to locate and resync lightroom instead.

If the images are actually missing from the SSD, then you did something that you did not explain.


There is a reasonable probability the originals are still on the external drive. Search the physical external drive using a file browser, for example Explorer in Windows. (On Mac, you may need to adjust the preferences in Finder, see this).

  • Lightroom maintains a database.
  • Caching works by putting the location of the local copy into the database.
  • When you edit a cached picture, Lightroom tries to open the local copy instead of the copy on the external drive.
  • When the cache is resynced, Lightroom stops looking for the local copy.

Most likely, deleting the cached pictures:

  1. Erased the local copies.
  2. Made the data in Lightroom database, inconsistent. The database shows there is a local copy, but when Lightroom goes to open it, the local copy does not exist.

Browsing the external disk will find the original files for the pictures that were in cache (if they are there, which they probably are).

At that point you will need to bring them back into Lightroom. There are several ways this might be done. Which is best for you depends on exactly how you use Lightroom. Life will be easier if you do it in a way consistent with your workflows.

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    I already browsed the disk in the explorer and also looked for hidden files. They are simply not there. Just random folders. I even used a recovery tool that cant find anything too.
    – Arjihad
    Oct 19 '21 at 17:08
  • @Arjihad Did you browse the external disk? Oct 19 '21 at 20:31
  • 1
    Yes I did browse the external disk.
    – Arjihad
    Oct 19 '21 at 20:37

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