Catalogs are incompatible between versions. The catalog must be converted to the Lightroom 5 format in order for it to be opened. If you don't have Lightroom 4 still installed, you could consider downloading and installing Lightroom 4 so that you can access those older catalogs. The two programs can coexist. If you still have your Lightroom 4 serial number available you could activate it and have both Versions at your disposal. Then you could export the images that you want to a new Lightroom 4 catalog that could be converted when it's opened in Lightroom 5.
However the problem is older catalogs cannot be opened with newer versions of LR. The first thing LR wants to do, is convert the catalog and update all the previews. I would have to hide my current 5.6 catalog and previews o they won't be overwritten
All of this is false. Yes you can use File->Open Catalog to open older catalogs into the newer version of LR (and the conversion will happen automatically). Creating a new catalog does NOT destroy any existing catalogs. You don't have to hide anything. Nothing will be overwritten.
I think that's the approach I'll take, but will install the previous LRs on the previous PC in case one installation tries to update or remove a preceding one. It would be useful to have the earlier versions available.
If I open an older catalog from the backup directory and LR updates it though, it would write out the updated catalog somewhere? I think it may replace the latest catalog I have. That's why I think I'd have to hide or temporarily rename the current catalog
If I open an older catalog from the backup directory and LR updates it though, it would write out the updated catalog somewhere?
No, this will not happen
I think it may replace the latest catalog I have.
No this will not happen
But the updated catalog file must go somewhere? The three possibilities I see are it replaces the one the old one, or it replaces the current one in the LR directory (that is, not the file from the backup directory), or it's written out as a new file. I'll have time to start working on this today or tomorrow...
It should let you confirm where the new copy is written and what to name it at the time you try to open the LR4 catalog in LR5.
Since it needs to read the old catalog to be able to create the new catalog, it cannot write the new catalog over the old catalog, and in general you're in charge of where it writes the catalogs and what they are called.
You need to just try and see how it works, instead of worrying about all sorts of things that probably can't happen before even attempting things.
As DJ says, it won't overwrite your exisiting catalog (why should it?...there are some Wedding photographers who start a new LR catalog for each wedding, I've yet to see anyone complaining about LR overwriting an existing one.) and as ssprengel says, it can't overwrite the old one whilst reading from it.
If you're still unsure then just make sure you've got backups (which is always essential let alone when you're attempting something you're not sure of).
Do take care though. My own expereince is that we humans are more likely to overwrite an existing file than the software is.......
What is the point of all these catalogs anyway?? one catalog is the easiest and most logical way to go.... I run a catalog with more than 500k files...
If I read the OP correctly, it was as a result of an earlier mistake...he's realised he's "Lost" a large number of photos which he hopes may be in one of the earlier catalogues. Not sure how this can happen, if one always sticks to just one catalogue (as I do too) it would seem to be very unlikely to me.
I can see why some people want to keep their work (or perhaps more to the point, the work each client) in separate catalogs. There might be business reasons and that would also ensure one client's work didn't accidentally end up with another client's deliverables. However for personal work I agree one catalog is simplest.
In this case, I ended up with mixed catalogs due to the external drive either not being powered up and I think LR has not been consistent in exactly where the lrcat file is kept. So I might start LR, but the external photo drive is not on yet, and LR reverts to a default catalog in \My Pictures. I then have to make it open the lrcat from the photo drive once it's online - but after starting at Lightroom 1, and now at LR 5.4, there are several cat files! If the wrong one is picked, recent work will be left behind on one cat file and newer work will go into the one I just picked.
Keep your catalog on your local disk and back up external. Lightroom does
nothing of its own accord like creating or locating new catalogs without
Here's what I've found so far.
Multiple versions can be installed at the same time (and I assume will operate independently though I wouldn't go so far as running more than one at a time). However you have to install them in descending order. If 4.3 is installed, then 4.4 it will first delete 4.3. So Install 4.4 first, then 4.3.
Next, is which catalog they open. By default the Windows registry just says "Lightroom" opens the lrcat file, and isn't specific whether it's the LR from the \Lightroom 4.3 directory, or the \Lightroom 4.4 directory, etc. It's also not possible to rightclick the lrcat file and pick Open With, since the versions of LR are not listed individually.
The next bit is just for information since I don`t think this completely solves how to have LR start with a specific cat file.
There is an agprefs file in \Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Preferences\ This is just a text file, so use Notepad to edit this. Near the end is the variable named "libraryToLoad20". Change the text string to name the catalog to be opened, such as Lightroom 4o3 Catalog.lrcat or Lightroom 4o4.lrcat. Don't use a period in the LR version, that might confuse something. As long as the agprefs file is edited first, LR will open the catalog you intend when it starts. I prefer to do this, rather than let it open an inappropriate catalog and then pick Open Catalog after it's started. The problem with this approach, is LR will then create a subdirectory Lightroom 4o3 Catalog Previews.lrdata if it doesn`t exist yet. So although it`s interesting the agprefs file can be ``hacked`` to control which catalog LR starts with, I think I`ll just let it open and then use File, Open Catalog. The only problem may be whether the old backup lrcat file I open, names a specific Previews directory and by now it`s name has changed!
There's no need to have multiple versions of Lightroom 4 installed. This only causes confusion. This is simply extra work for you, with no benefit.
Nor is there a need to designate a catalog a being Lightroom 4.3 catalog or Lightroom 4.4 catalog. They should all open in the most recent version of Lightroom 4, which is Lightroom 4.4; and of course, they can and should all be upgraded to Lightroom 5.6 anyway.
And further to DJ's comments (with which I totally agree), LR itself lets you choose which file to open with by default.....you don't need to hack the preferences file.
Edit,Preferences, General, "When starting up use this catalog"
If you're using one version of LR and one catalog none of this becomes an issue anyway.
The only time the catalog has to be updated is when you purchase an upgrade, like moving from Lightroom 4 to Lightroom 5. Lightroom 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc. will all use the same catalog. No updating no changes. In your preferences in Lightroom it is possible for you to choose whether to have the last catalog opened or to give you a choice. I have mine set to open the last catalog that I used.
Personally, I use two different catalogs, my "master" Catalog and one that I call "test". The test catalog is used for experimenting. Yes, I realize I could have a separate folder and keep them all in one catalog. But I prefer doing it the way I am. I use Windows 7. My desktop icon has been placed on the taskbar at the bottom of my desktop. If I right-click on that icon it will list the two catalogs, and I can choose which one I want to open.
If you choose to have multiple catalogs, they will all be created in the folder that you have chosen for the destination for your catalog. Unless you name a new catalog the same as an old one, there is no way that creating a new catalog will overwrite another one.