The problems I blogged about last week with my Lightroom library were mostly—but not completely—fixed by rebuilding my preview database. My library of around 2800 images was useable, but there were still some irritating things happening that hadn’t been cleared up. Finding myself tired of mystery issues while editing photos on the transatlantic flight home, I decided to pull the trigger and do a complete database rebuild.
There were two ways that I considered rebuilding my database. The first was to create a new database and do an “Import” from the old database. I strongly thought about this option first, but I was a bit worried that if the source of my issues was problem data in the database that I’d simply migrate the problem. So I decided to go with plan B and lean on the XMP metadata that I’ve had Lightroom write for each of my images. I’ve long checked the “Automatically write changes into XMP” setting for Lightroom catalogs in part to provide a recovery mechanism in case of database failure and it seemed like as good a time as any to put theory into practice.
So, I created a new catalog on a separate disk drive and then pointed Lightroom’s import dialog box at my existing image tree and had it copy and import all the image files it could find. As you might expect, this wasn’t a quick process. In fact, I think I watched a big chunk of Spiderman 3 on the overhead monitors as Lightroom churned away. But when it was all over, I had my images in a brand new library, but with all their existing metadata and develop settings in place. I was even pleasantly surprised to find that my snapshots came across in the XMP metadata. The only thing I lost in the rebuild was the history of development edit steps for each image. Since I had the snapshots and the final developed results, however, I was pretty happy.
Time will tell if this takes care of the issues I’ve been seeing. I’m back in the US now and have a wider arsenal of options to take additional steps if need be—including setting things up on a totally different machine. But so far, things seem to be OK. And that’s a good thing as going through a photo library is a perfect thing to do when jet lag is keeping one awake at 4AM.