I have a question that is maybe a little long winded...
I have CC on two computers, my personal laptop which I have been using CC on for a year now and my work computer which I have been using CC on for a few months. I went to grab the raw version of some images from my work computer to find that they had never actually been saved. They had been accessible in LR previously, but then I switched catalogs, and when I went back to the original one, i had the "!" error on all my pictures. What I didn't know before, but I know now, is that LR only saves a virtual copy of the image. However, I didn't do anything differently when uploading images to my work computer, and I've never had this problem on my personal computer. In fact, I can go on my personal computer and see all the images in RAW saved in my files.
So I guess my question is, how should I change my work flow when dealing with images so that this doesn't happen again? Also, why are the images saved on my personal computer drive? Is that because I've backed up lightroom before?
I'm very confused.
The problem with the exclamation point icon on your photos has nothing to do with "saving" the photos, or saving the edits/metadata. Your edits and metadata are automatically saved to the catalog file (in fact, you can't turn this off). So your edits and metadata are always saved, there's no change in workflow necessary.
The exclamation point icon indicates that the photo file itself cannot be found in the location Lightroom thinks the photo is in. This could be because you renamed, moved or deleted the actual photo file (or the folder that contains it) outside of Lightroom. On Windows, it can also indicate the drive now has a different drive letter. To fix the problem, please follow these instructions: Adobe Lightroom - Find moved or missing files and folders
What I didn't know before, but I know now, is that LR only saves a virtual copy of the image.
Technically, not true. Lightroom saves the sequence of edit commands you have performed, and each time it has to show you the photo in Develop Module it renders the image from these edit commands. In the Library Module, Lightroom relies on previews it creates to show you the image (which are not a "virtual copy" of the image).