Probably stating the obvious- Is the deleted .LRCAT file still in the trash or recycle bin? Can you restore it from there?
As for the Backup zip files, can you copy and paste the latest backup .ZIP to your desktop then 'extract' the .LRCAT file on the desktop.?
If you have a .LRCAT file to place back in the LR folder (as its original location), you will need to delete the file that ends with .LOCK before opening the .LRCAT you have restored.
(The .LOCK file prevents LR from starting as it indicates that a catalog is already open and working. .LOCK files are often left behind if LR is not closed properly for some reason.)
How are you trying to extract the catalog from zip file? Lightroom cannot use the catalog while it is in the zip file. You need to open the zip file and drag the catalog from the zip file. I would suggest putting it in the same location that the catalog was located originally.
No, the file is not in the recycle bin. As for extracting, when I try to extract, that is when I get the "LR cannot use the datalog named lightroom Catalog.lrcat because it is not writable and cannot be opened." window.
There is a .lock file. I will try deleting that to see if I can restore.
If all else fails, should I just go back to my last hard drive restore point?
Do not open Lightroom until you have extracted the backup Catalog.LRCAT file from the zip and onto the desktop, using the Operating System. (Lightroom cannot 'open' .ZIP files.!!)
Do not leave Catalog.LRCAT in the Backups folder. (It can be moved to the Lightroom folder later)
Check the Catalog.LRCAT file (Right-Click > Properties > General Tab ) to make sure the "Read Only" box hasn't been checked. If it has uncheck it.
You must delete the .LOCK file in any case. Do it.
Left-Double-click the Catalog.LRCAT file to check if Lightroom starts.
Do not Import anything with Lightroom, do not go to a restore point in the OS, until you have tried all as above.
Thank you so much. I used a restore catalog from last week. That seems to have restored everything other than the files imported/edited in the last week. I can live with that. I would much rather lose 1 week of edited compared to 3 years.
I do have a couple of folders I copied to the desktop that I’m not sure what to do with. One is lrcat-journal, the other is LR catalog previews.lrdat. After I verify that I copied, not moved, can I delete them from the desktop?
Thank you again for your help. You provided great info in a very timely manner. I really appreciate it.
.lrcat-journal is only a temporary file that contains some editing info, but usually only existing with an accompanying .LOCK file. It can be safely deleted.
catalog previews.lrdat can also be deleted as LR will re-build previews automatically.
If your working catalog folder is still on the desktop, it can be moved back into the original location, which might be- C:\My Pictures/Lightroom/