It's useful to remember that a collection is nothing more than a saved search.
One would have to know a lot more about your system, OS, exact Bridge version number, free available hard disk space, where the image files reside, etc, and about your settings in preferences, cache, etc., before one could offer suggestions to minimize this, but be aware that Bridge is just a browser, not a robust DAM (digital asset manager).
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If you moved any of the files in the collection they would be missing.
If you used any prohibited characters like a hyphen they will not be saved in a collection.
A smart collection seems to work a little better than a regular collection as it has some dynamic sort functions.
Oh this must be a part of the problem. I was trying now and the images that where gone did not contain a hyphen but an appostrophe. An exclamation mark seems to be no problem. Is there a complete list of the prohibited characters anywhere? Thanks for the help!
… Is there a complete list of the prohibited characters anywhere?…
Stick to numbers, underscores and the letters of the English alphabet.
Do not use any UNIX illegal characters like slashes, commas, apostrophes, asterisks, diacriticals like ÄÖÜ äöü ß áéíóú, ñ, Ñ, ÁÉÍÓÚ, àèìòù ÀÈÌÒÙ, ç Ç, etc. No exclamation point or question marks, quotation marks, etc.
Why does this happen and how can we avoid it? It happened to different collegues already (on different computers - all using Adobe CS5.5)
Aside from the already given advise I sadly have to admit collections are not as reliable as they should be, even playing by the rules given by the other posters.
If you do have to work with collections for a longer period then just a short project in one go it might be useful to put a keyword in play. Create the collection and provide the files in the collection with one project/user related keyword.
When the collection get's lost you can always search for the keyword to retrieve them easily again.
There was an old thread about this issue here:
comment #19 clearly explains that CS5 Bridge when making the .filelist file for the Collection does not automatically change any apostrophes to %27 like CS4 Bridge would (similarly blank spaces get converted to %20 in CS5 just like CS4).
This bug was reported over a year ago and seems to be a simple fix - put back in the feature from CS4 that changed any single quote in paths of the images to %27 - How about it Adobe? I am working off of a server and can not change old folder filenames that contain the offending apostrophe.
If you click on the link in my post and go to comment 19 the user indicates he filed a bug report. It's not photoshop.com because the original Bridge forum was active when the user first posted. Can we get a fix for this? Seems like a straightforward thing that applies to all users (orig report was a windows user while I see this on a Mac)