I got more than 6000 visits to my website yesterday from folks worried about iPhoto ERASING their iPhoto Library, like it did to mine. People are listening. Which is good. But sounding such an alarm is an enormous responsibility that I don't take lightly. I am a very long-time Apple fan and iPhoto is one of my favorite programs.
But every time I think I might be being too harsh on Apple (maybe it was just me, maybe I really could have done something besides force quit when it hung and said it wasn't responding, maybe somehow my 233gb of photos really were shoehorned into 6.5gb etc. etc.), I go to the Apple Discussion Forums and read something like this:
"Well I am one of those who didn't have backup, so thousands of pictures and videos of my kids growing up is gone."
I've lost all the photos of my new son, his Christening, my family over from Australia and my dad's 70th Birthday
and this last one is pretty awful:
iPhoto libraries are not backed up by Time Machine if iPhoto is running during the back up process. I leave my iPhoto application open constantly. I bought the best MacBook Pro money could by with 8GB of RAM so I could have multiple applications open for my design work. This is an absolute horror show for me.
and then I'm convinced I haven't yelled enough.
First and foremost, make a BACKUP before you upgrade your software.
And DON'T RELY on Time Machine. Although Apple says it works "in the background" without you having to do anything, it doesn't. I'm afraid I've been ranting about that for a while too. If iPhoto is open (and I leave iPhoto open all the time), Time Machine will skip your iPhoto Library, even as it backs up everything else.
You will think you have a backup, and you will be wrong.
Here are the steps:
1. Close iPhoto. (Again, Time Machine will not back up an open iPhoto Library.)
2. Run Time Machine, or other backup software.
3. Make a separate, additional, independent backup of your iPhoto Library onto an external hard drive, or other media, and store it off site (in some other building). Even if you can't figure out where to take it off site, don't let that stop you from making the second copy. Just drag the iPhoto Library to an external disk.
4. Look at your backups and make sure they have the same size as your original iPhoto Library. To do so, select the iPhoto Library and choose File > Get Info.
Only then should you attempt an upgrade to iPhoto 11.
What if you've already attempted an upgrade, and had your iPhoto Library disappear?
What worked for me was starting up my computer in Safe Mode (with the Shift key down), and then rebuilding Disk Permissions (use Disk Utility, it's in your Utilities folder in the App folder), and then I started up iPhoto with Command and Option pressed down. In the dialog box that appeared, I chose the options 1, 2, and 6. It then asked if I wanted to upgrade my library, and I said yes. And it worked. It took a couple of hours (my library is 233gb) but it worked. It's really slow for me, but so far, and I'm not convinced about the interface, but it looks like my photos are intact.
If that doesn't work, I've also heard of people
eliminating duplicate fonts from the Font Book
Remove DIVX codecs from Library/QuickTime or ~/Library/QuickTime
and even removing files from within the iPhoto Library package
using disk recovery software
Of course, you can also call Apple or post your particular circumstances on the Apple Discussion Forums. There is a wealth of information there.
Good luck. And keep spreading the word:
DO NOT upgrade to iPhoto 11 without a BACKUP!!!