Since I couldn't find my original disk to move my original 3.6 to another computer, I download a new 3.6 application and imported my catalog backup to it and all my collections disappeared. What happened?
PS this step was in preparation for installing Lightroom 4 later.
When I took my pictures I identified them by compact Flash card number (Switzerland 1-6). I imported the photos into Lightroom this way a long time ago. Over time I developed collections by city or cantons. These collections are in my working copy of lightroom on my old computer. I thought this info was in the .ircat file but they must not be. The backup I used was todays backup. I just uninstalled Lightroom from my new Win 7 64-bit computer and tried to reinstall it and got the original Compact Flash card numbers and no collections. It seems to be picking these up from my new hard drive that has a backup of these cards. Is there a local disk override going on here?
That info is stored in the catalogue, and should come across. Find the correct catalogue you were using in LR3 - open it in LR3 to make 100% sure it is the one (I suspect this is the problem here). Then open it in LR4 through File > Open Catalogue. You shouldn't need to "import" at any stage in this upgrade process.
Yes there are question marks on the original 6 compact flash card folders. I clicked on the question marks and it said to try finding the "missing" catalog so I clicked on the ircat backup and that didn't seem to work and there was another folder called (i think) Lightroom Catalog and this seemed to combine things so I uninstalled it again rather than making a bigger mess.
The program is only "useless" because you aren't taking this at the right pace. I asked about those question marks, and didn't ask you to do anything more. The question marks were telling you that LR couldn't find the original pictures (in future don't move them with Explorer/Finder once they're registered in LR), and that was why the thumbnails were grey. So you needed to click the question mark and follow the dialog box's instructions which were to point LR to where the pictures now are - not to point to the LR3 catalogue or its backups.
I wonder if you know the difference between your catalogue, and the pictures - if not, you need to get this clear in your own mind. These lrcat files are crucial - find them and be clear about what each one is. And go one step at a time.
The problem started with trying to "move" Lightroom 3.6 (which has worked for years on an XP computer) to a new Win 7 computer. I couldn't find my original disk and serial number so I downloaded a new 3.6 version from Adobe to my new computer and moved my .ircat file over also so I could point the program to it when it looked for a catalog. At the first install I selected IMPORT and pointed to the .ircat backup. The pictures were there but it only showed the 6 compact flash folders and none of the 30+ collections. So I asked the original question here. You told me to go to FILE and open catalog (I pointed to the .ircat backup) and the collections were there along with the 6 folders and no pictures. I clicked on the question marks and FIND PHOTOS and it pointed to the .ircat backup which I clicked and nothing happened (by the way I have gone back to my XP computer 3 times and made 3 backups to use in this process and none work). So for years none of these backups have been really backing up anything. It's a good thing I have been slow to move my other 3000+ photos to Lightroom. Curently, i would have only lost 1300 if there had been a drive failure.
Those backups are not a backup of the photos - they are a backup of the lrcat, the catalogue file. So no photos would be expected to be there. Remember that the catalogue is just that, a catalogue, and "import" doesn't mean that the pictures are actually going to be insidse the catalogue - it's more a "registration" process that records in the catalogue where the pictures are actually located.
Now when you clicked the question mark, it only defaulted to that folder. You should navigate to where the pictures now are and point to the pictures. Try this.
I know the photos are not backed up in the ircat folder. It is only a pointer to where they are located. The 6 folders are on my new hard drive and I pointed to the new location and again nothing happened except one of the 6 folders no longer appears. I would like to go back to my XP computer and find out where the working program is pointing and what it is pointing at so I can make adjustments on the new computer. Where can I find this info?
When you click on a folder, you are telling Lightroom where it is. Look more closely through the Folders panel and you should find it. It will no longer appear with the other 5 but should be shown elsewhere, and without a question mark. The pictures in it should no longer have question marks.