On my Mac Lr doesn't zip the backups. But if they are zipped, just unzip them using whatever utility you use to do that. There would be an lrcat file inside. Then use the "open..." command in Lr to open that backup catalog. Each catalog opens separately, and doesn't affect any other catalog unless you import one into the other.
Double-click the zip file. Windows will open the file, and then you can copy the catalog file and place it where the old one and was located. Then you should be good to go.
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Yes LR6 now uses ZIP files for the catalog backups. One of the reasons for this is to prevent users from directly opening the backups.
Copy your current catalog to a safe place.
Open the desired ZIP file in the "backup" folder tree; copy the catalog out of the ZIP and overwrite your "bad" catalog at its original location.
Open LR, open the restored catalog.
If you don't like that version of the catalog, repeat with a different ZIP file.
If you want the "bad" catalog back, copy it back from your saved location to the original location.
The key to this entire process is never attempting to directly open any of the catalogs in the "backup" folder tree; always copy them somewhere else first.
Wow, amazing. So Adobe decided to change the way backup files are generated (i.e. zipping them), but didn't bother to update the instructions? I also watched the official Adobe TV screencast of the backup/restore process that's featured on the official Lightroom Help web page. That screencast still shows the old way, i.e. opening the backed up catalog directly *and* it even shows the catalog gets opened in the wrong version of Lightroom. The presenter says: ooops, this is a beta version, blah blah.
Creative Cloud stuff getting regular updates is cool, but Adobe also has to update the accompanying support content.
The point of making backups on the same drive is for cases like yours. LR doesn't lose 6 months of work. Been using LR since version one and I've never had this happen to me.
Could be you accidentally opened your older LR 5 catalog and then LR CC/6 converted it to a LR 6 catalog which would of lost all the work you had done in CC/6.
Or you have more than one catalog file and for some reason you opened the wrong one? One that was 6 months old?
First thing to do is search your hard drives for .lrcat and see how many catalogs you actually have.