I am hoping that someone can explain how photos can become disconnected from the catalog without any deliberate action being taken to do such a task by the user.
I turn on my computer yesterday and start PSE 4. All nearly 4000 pictures pop up in the Organizer with a little red "x'' at the bottom of each photo indicating that each photo is no longer connected to my catalog. So I select the Reconnect All Missing Files and the computer works for about 3 hours and reconnects maybe 30 to 40-percent of the photos. The rest are still left hanging, with a path to an external "H" drive that is not even connected to the computer. So now I have nearly 2500 pictures to manually reconnect.
My active PSE catalog is always on an external drive "G"; this is where I do all my work in PSE. I do backups to an external drive "H". So how on earth did the "G" catalog re-assign a path name to my backup catalog on drive "H"? I would think that one would have to deliberately re-assign the path name from G to H, which I did not do, in order for this to happen. In summary, all my pictures got re-assigned new path names without me doing anything.
Hopefully, someone can tell me what to be careful about so that this does not happen again.
I am using XP Pro. In all the years that I have been using it with my 2 external drives, it has never switched the drive letters. That is usually one of the first things that I check with I plug the external drive in, i.e., did it show up in Windows Explorer with the proper drive letter.
There should be some type of safe-guard in PSE that would require the user to make a concious effort to change the path name for a file in the catalog. In other words, it should not be something that the software can do without first asking the user for permission.
I'm not an expert on Windows internals, but Windows does have a habit of changing drive letters at reboot. It can do that if you've connected a new device, even just a flash drive. It could also be that the last time you booted, one of the drives was slower than normal in responding to Windows (perhaps by just a millisecond), so Windows recognized the other drive first (a so-called "race condition").
It is these issues that motiviated Adobe to try to use other schemes other than drive letters for identifying drives in PSE 6 and later. But Adobe didn't succeed -- indeed, in PSE 6 and 7 they made it worse.
Ok, so lets assume that Windows somehow changed drive letters and I did not notice the change. Under this scenario, when I opened PSE, it may have grabbed the catalog on drive H (my backup drive), thinking it was drive G, since it had been now been given that name by Windows. How would that cause the catalog to rewrite the path names?
I ask this question because the next time I fired up the computer and opened PSE (with only the original drive G connected, not the backup drive), the catalog was saying all my photos were now on drive H. So something caused the catalog to rewrite the path name from G to H - I did not think it could do that.
Not sure. Here's a fairly tenuous hypothesis: You rebooted the computer, Windows switched drive letters, the backup drive wasn't connected, PSE did an automatic reconnect of the files it thought were missing. (This assumes that PSE 4 has the option Edit > Preferences > Files > Automatically Search For And Reconnect Missing Files, and that you didn't notice the automatic reconnect, which can take a long time.)
PSE 6 and later have lots of drive handling bugs. I haven't heard of an issue similar to yours with PSE 4 or 5 (but I've only paid deep attention to 6 and later).
I think you hit on the problem.
I checked my Preferences and sure enough it was set to "Automatically Search For And Reconnect Missing Files". So that is why it did the search & reconnect without me telling it to do that. That along with the fact that Windows must have changed the drive letter, i.e., it went over to my backup drive, which had its drive letter reversed, and reconnected to all those backup file paths without telling me.
Thanks for your help.
This an old thread, but it triggered a question. Do you suggest keeping the automatically reconnect missing files preference off if your photos are on an external drive? Is the decision version dependent?
I'm guessing it probably doesn't matter. I think this occurrence was a rare, perfect storm. I keep the option off just so I know when I make a mistake managing my photos and folders outside of PSE.