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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 ...).

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    \$\begingroup\$ 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? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you missing files from directories or from catalog? How old is this SSD disk? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the directories themselves. The SSD is a two year old SanDisk SSD Plus that I bought brand new. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arji
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Arjihad, if you constantly write to this disk 2 hours per day you should check what is the health of the SSD. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ everytime you quit Lightroom, it makes a backup of the catalog, so you should have a backup file at the location you indicated. \$\endgroup\$
    – cmason
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 20:33

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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.

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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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    \$\begingroup\$ 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. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arji
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Arjihad Did you browse the external disk? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 20:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes I did browse the external disk. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arji
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, OTTOMH - virus perhaps? random folders sounds odd. I recall a learning experience where I had a networked PC that allowed a virus on it and it changed the data without deleting it - name changes, extension changes, files became folders, etc. Made any references to the actual files lost, even though they technically still existed (in terms of bytes still occupied). - check file sizes of those 'folders' (perhaps add extension; check 'extensions hidden' in folders option, uncheck) - if sizes are unusually large they are your images but things like header info has been corrupted/altered \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 0:52
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I'll place this as a partial answer.

It is in the comments but they sometimes get deleted.

My comment was:

Sorry, OTTOMH - virus (worm, actually) perhaps?

random folders sounds odd.

I recall a learning experience where I had a networked PC that allowed a virus on it (due to some other situation) and it changed the data without deleting it - name changes, extension changes, files became folders, etc.

Made any references to the actual files lost, even though they technically still existed (in terms of bytes still occupied).

  • check file sizes of those 'folders'
  • (perhaps add extension;
  • check 'extensions hidden' in folders option, uncheck)
  • if sizes are unusually large they are your images but things like header info has been corrupted/altered

I do not recall the virus/worm (virus requires activation, worm just does it by itself so to speak) but it was malicious but not one of those ransom ones, just 'make your day go bad' types.

Note:

You would have to inspect / clean your computer before any of that worked.

Depending on where the virus/worm originated it could have spread to other drives, your main pc or come from your main pc as you indicate * saved on an external SSD so that I can work on them from multiple computers*

I do similar, but the catalogues and original images and previews are located in each 'project' folder and i archive the drives elsewhere when done with.

(proceeds to touch wood..)

(wait...that sounds wrong...)

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In the meantime I faced a second massive data loss and I now found the cause of it. I store my images on an external SSD and when I connected it to the computer yesterday windows prompted me "the external drive needs to be repaired" and I selected "scan and fix". It took about five minutes and deleted a massive amount of my folders. Didn't know this could happen. I immediately tried different recovering tools but windows does a good job deleting my files definitely.

That said: Dont use windows "scan and fix" because it actually deletes your files without asking!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Glad you discovered the problem. Do you have backups? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 13, 2022 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Íf not, he might do now? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 13, 2022 at 17:05

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