I am sometimes too attentive to details. Although I am very aware of it (unlike Monica from Friends), I can sometimes be caught up in an act of cleaning and making things generally tidier/better/more organized.

Like today. I decided that my digital photos were not organized properly. So I just had to move them from drive X: (which is my large, slow, reliable backup and junk drive), to drive D: (which is my super-fast, RAID0 300Gb total WD Raptors 10k). At the same time, I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 to manage my photo collection (btw, definitely recommended – provided that you know its character). This means that in addition to just moving the files, one needs to make sure that the Photoshop Elements catalog is up-to-date.

There are several ways to make sure that the catalog is up-to-date.

  1. Use “Reconnect Files” menu option in Elements. All good and wonderful, but one needs to be very careful about what links to accept and what not to – especially, in large collections. I’ve had cases where the reconnection completely messed up the catalog by connecting to irrelevant files
  2. The way Adobe proposes to move files between locations preserving their directory structure is “Backup/Restore”. Sounds reasonable?
  3. Adobe’s *.pesg files (the files that are Photoshop Elements catalogs) are nothing more but SQLite databases with quite a clear schema. So using one of the available tools for editing SQLite databases, one can update the catalogs after manually moving files. Sounds like a bit of work, though…

Being lazy and having trust in Adobe, I took option (2). There were no issues with backup. Then I wanted the files that were backed-up from X:\Pictures to be restored into D:\Users\Maksym\Pictures preserving my nice, clear and easy-to-navigate directory structure. This meant specifying D:\Users\Maksym as a destination directory for restore. So I restored the files just to see that the catalog files, together with some junk files, were restored directly into D:\Users\Maksym. Not good – they were not supposed to be there! So I thought I missed some option and decided to repeat the restore. But before repeating it, I decided to delete the just-restored catalog. I went into File->Catalogs, selected Maksym as a catalog, and pressed Remove. What would a thinking person expect to happen? I expected the catalog files together with the files it refers, to be deleted.

Do you know what Photoshop Elements has done? No? Wait for it: IT DELETED THE WHOLE OF D:\Users\Maksym, with ALL of my Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Video vanishing from the hard drive!!!

A normal reaction to this situation is PANIC. I only calmed down a little, when I realized that I have Windows built-in backup working like a dream on a nightly basis, and in addition, BackupPC running on my Ubuntu Server box does another backup of the same box to a different location. I managed to restore the majority of the files, other than 1 days worth.

The bottom line is: because of a Backup running in a scheduled mode, I only lost around $10 in my online music downloads and some work I did in the morning around planning a financial strategy for my investment portfolio and around tracking my personal finance. Not a huge price, it could have been much worse.

THANK YOU, BACKUPS!

P.S. An easy solution was to manually move catalog files to the desired location after the Restore process in Adobe Photoshop Elements completes, and delete some rubbish files that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I did exactly this, and now my computer is running perfectly, with its Pictures folder where I want it. 🙂