Sunday, October 24, 2010

WARNING!!! iPhoto 11 Erases ENTIRE iPhoto Libraries

I was very excited to hear about iPhoto 11. I'm a longtime iPhoto user, with more than 50,000 photos in my iPhoto Library that lately has grown to 233Gb. The Full Screen feature looked great, and I'm dying to see the new books feature. I wrote an entire book on iPhoto book themes and can't wait to see what's new.

Until today. Upon upgrading to iPhoto 11, I got the revolving gray wheel for a very long time, and the Finder said that iPhoto had "stopped responding" so I force quit and started again. I was finally able to upgrade and rebuild my library, but there was nothing there. Every event was labeled properly, and contained placeholders for my images with my labels and even my ratings, but the images themselves were not there. They were all gone.

iPhoto 11 FAIL

When I went to see how big my iPhoto Library was, it said 6.3Gb. There's no earthly way my 233Gb of photos could suddenly fit into 6.3Gb. Further confirmation is that suddenly there are 230 extra GB available on my hard drive.

I would be sick (and furious) except that I backed up my library twice before attempting the upgrade. Please pass this information on to everyone you know so that no-one else loses their photos.

Apple's Discussion Forums are full of other people experiencing the same issue. Make sure you have at least one backup before attempting to upgrade. Also, if you depend on Time Machine, make sure Time Machine has been able to complete a full backup with iPhoto completely closed. Note that Time Machine will not properly back up your photos if iPhoto is open.

It's absolutely unconscionable that Apple should release software that would erase an entire iPhoto Library. We must spread the word to minimize the damage. Thanks.

As soon as I figure out how to upgrade successfully, I'll post that information here.

45 comments:

  1. It happens to me too: Time Machine saved my last 5 years of photos and remembered me how evanescent is a digital library. Shame on Apple for this amazing bug.

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    Replies
    1. These things can really only be deliberate..just does not seem possible that such a bug can be missed..I do not understand the dating system in iphoto I11 at all still. Again my entire data base of photos has been reorganised ad redated. I am just sick of this . It is just a mess. As is the new itunes, which is even worse. I just do not understand why these companies want to ruin their product with ridiculous releases..unless there is an actual economic reason. I am now sick of it and thinking of redoing all my mac software..

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  2. Well the problem is that you force quit iPhoto. iPhoto should have given better feedback as to what it was doing, but force quitting an upgrade mid-stream is sure to leave your data borked.

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  3. nope you are wrong it looks like they have gone but they havn't
    they are just not registered with the database.
    alls you do is find your iphoto library file which has all your photos in not the iphoto app. right click, choose show contents and delete the file thats is called something like interrupted upgrade. exit and reload iphoto and bang all good. dont panic

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  4. Same thing happened to my wife. All photos were gone. She had to reinstall iPhoto 09, update it to its latest version and restore the library from Time Machine.

    I hope Apple fix this soon.

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  5. @Shane. Thanks for the suggestion. I opened the iPhoto Library package but 1) there was no such file. And even if there were, how could it possibly recover my 230GB of photo information that are really gone?

    @sriggins. I didn't force quit iPhoto lightly. It hung. Stopped responding. There was no other alternative. Plenty of people on Apple Discussion Forums have left it "going" for hours and hours with no better result.

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  6. I think I will wait before upgrading. I'll be watching this for a while.

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  7. This thing happened to me too, and I didnt have backup. Managed to restore some of it with disc recovery software, but most of it is gone forever.

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  8. @Anon-3. I'm so sorry. I am doing everything I can so that people are warned. This is just too sad. Also check the Apple Discussion Forums. Some folks have been able to recover some of their data.

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  9. Same or similar thing happened to me today, an hour ago. Library w. photos of 8 years vanished. Last backup from mid September 10, luckily, but about 500 photos are nowhere anymore. Does anybody know a good software for recovering lost files?

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  10. @sriggins Force-quitting shouldn't delete hundreds of gigabytes of photos. Corrupting the particular photo it's processing at the time would be understandable (if sucky), but deleting an entire library of photos isn't something a program like iPhoto should ever do if it crashes.

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  11. Jes.., you can’t just force-quit an app and wonder why it fucks up. The spinner is alright, it updates your library to be able to use new features of iphoto 11. It takes its time, but you just have to wait. there is nothing wrong with iphoto 11.

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  12. @thomasmaier: No, sorry. Good database software uses journaling techniques so that even if the app gets catastrophically killed, the database remains intact. Even poor database software, does not delete the data it indexes when something goes terribly wrong (and that's what Liz Castro and many other are reporting happened).

    This is unfortunately a serious iPhoto bug. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

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  13. yep. me too. i had to take the photos out of the iphoto library package, create a brand new iphoto library and reimport them into iphoto 11. this is sloppy sloppy, horrible coding by apple. they should be ashamed to have shipped this project.

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  14. The iPhoto library has photo files in the file system with references in the iPhoto database. It's absurd that ANY operation on the database could alter the files themselves. As much as I want iLife '11, I'll pass on this one until apple addresses this. It's not just a bug, it's a design flaw.

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  15. I updated 5 machines to iPhoto 11, all with large photo databases, and all went off without a hitch. If you're having this problem, you're doing something wrong and deserve to lose your data.

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  16. "Well the problem is that you force quit iPhoto "

    Do not blame the victim. This bug is egregious. There is no excuse for any actual image file to be touched during the upgrade process. If iPhoto-specific metadata got borked that would be one thing, but there is no reason why iPhoto should damage a single image file. In the worst possible case it might legitimately leave one file in a bad state, but even that would be poor.

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  17. @Thomas nah, I watched my iphoto 11 upgrade 300gb worth of photos, and sit there on the spinner for hours. After a few hours locked up and spinning, I noticed I had too much hd space free, with more freeing up by the minute.

    Iphoto should NEVER delete photo files themselves. Iphoto 11 is broken.

    Backups to the rescue and a retry of the upgrade worked fine, but that's still a major major bug.

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  18. I never allow iPhoto to house my photos in it's library. Seems silly to me. I have everything in a photo directory, and set the preference for iPhoto not to copy or move the photo. That way, I am responsible for the photos, and not iPhoto.

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  19. My Name is George (freelance Mac tech in Barcelona, Spain). I just updated my 56GB iPhoto library with no incidents. Library actually grew by 400Mb after the update to iLife '11. I haven't tried other apps in the suite.
    Hola:
    I did do a time machine backup and a clean restart before the update. I also made sure no other iLife app was running and used Onyx (maintenace app) to complete the 'rubber chicken' mac voodoo placebo effect.
    Aside from this positive news, Can anyone tell me the size of the iLife '11 dvd? I used a disk image to install my suite. ;)
    Regards from sunny Catalonia!

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  20. I forgot to mention in above post that the entire iPhoto database upgrade process took 8 minutes for a 60Gb photo library. I have a 2.4Ghz iMac. Extrapolating this figure would give a time of 40 minutes for a 300Gb photo library...Patience is the operative word.

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  21. I have posted the solution on my website:

    http://iphoto11.wordpress.com

    Enjoy!

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  22. If the last comment is accurate (and it is a permissions problem, which is plausible), a shorter solution is:

    (make a backup first!)

    open terminal
    cd
    chmod -R 777 .

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  23. Um, sorry my last comment got corrupted by the blog. The full text should be:

    open terminal
    cd YOUR_IPHOTO_LIBRARY
    chmod -R 777 .

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  24. Liz, why on earth did you "force quit"??

    Just because an app shows "not responding" does not mean it has crashed! Its just too busy to respond - probably converting a big iPhoto Library??

    So this post does not have any real value, sorry :)

    Roberto

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  25. Roberto, your comment has no real value.

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  26. Tony: ***** is "the 'rubber chicken' mac voodoo placebo effect"?

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  27. Spread the word: The fix is easy, but too long to post here.
    go to:

    http://iphoto11.wordpress.com/

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  28. iphoto's single db for your photos sounds alot like Outlook's gigantic email database. A large egg in one basket that makes the program useless once it's corrupted.

    rather than waiting for apple to fix this you should use a real photo librarian, by an actual imaging company (ie: Adobe Bridge).

    iLife is a joke.

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  29. Tom said," No, sorry. Good database software uses journaling techniques so that even if the app gets catastrophically killed, the database remains intact."

    Wow, really? You think iPhoto is a "good" database? What makes you think that? I have had iPhoto loose pictures for me all over the place in the past in many different ways, so this is not new. For example, unless you specifically state to move photos into the library, they will be "added" to iPhoto and look like they are there, and even when the source goes away, they still show up in iPhoto. But click on the photo, and you get the big gray ! showing up. No "good database" would do this. iPhoto is a joke at at best.

    I agree with the above comment, get a real photo management tool like Adobe Lightroom. Not lost a thing now!

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  30. Roberto in fact made an excellent point, one I have confirmed with a developer. You use the Sample feature of Activity Monitor to see if the application is ever making any progress.

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  31. No problem for me. Installed, started, waiting alot for library conversion, then all photos stll in their place. With 223G I think you need to wait more time before force quit.

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  32. check out http://iphoto11.wordpress.com/

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  33. @Anonymous re: iphoto11.wordpress.com and changing privileges... the folks I talked to at Apple said that privileges were only part of the problem. I recommend waiting for their fix, which they say they're about to release: http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2010/10/wait-to-upgrade-to-iphoto-11-apple-says.html

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  34. I'd love to hear more about the Sample feature in Activity Monitor. I found this page: http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/activitymonitor.html#AM-Sample-Process

    And what I intuit is that if you took two separate samples from a program that was "not responding" but the samples were different, that would mean the program wasn't actually hung.

    Is that right? Can anyone confirm (with references if possible? Thanks.

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  35. I was lucky and my upgrades went smoothly. I have other issues with what seems like the dumbing down of iPhoto, but your experience emphasizes the need for backups. I've heard this many times that you need three backups of your most important content, they should be stored on two different kinds of media, and one should be stored at a different location.

    I have been obsessed with backup since about 1993 when a college friend lost half his dissertation because his baby daughter crawled over the keyboard. I currently use Time Machine + Super Duper, and then Mozy.com for my automated cloud backu at home.. I also use synchronize Plus and dropbox for keeping my desktop and laptop documents in order at work and for communicating with the iPad.

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  36. There are other issues with iPhoto 11 also: renaming an Event can only be done in the Event mode now; when typing in a new location name the first character is repeated; can no longer email via your Mail client like we used to (several innovative workaround have been posted) as we're forced to use the themes provided by iPhoto and the emails are not recorded in the Sent mailbox as just a few. Those are just a few of the problems being recorded in the AD.

    An update has been released, 9.0.1, to address the lost photos issue but the jury is still out on it's effectiveness.

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  37. I wish I never upgraded - events have no longer a size indication, iPhoto is slooooow (I have a 2.8 GHz i7 and yet the response is like treacle - it feels like I am back in the 80s of the last century).
    Emptying the iPhoto trash has become a test of patience (of which I don't have much), info about photos is reduced ... keywords are shown only for individual photos in the info side bar, and ... and ... and (the list seems truly endless)
    Who talked Steve Jobs into releasing this crap? and into praising it as a great step forward? I can only hope that Steve Jobs has by now sacked the whole team who committed these idiocies - if not, I shall seriously consider sacking Steve Jobs and Apple from my future computer purchasing options ... (and I am a committed apple user since 1987!) My Windows friends are laughing at me ...:

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  38. Anonymous - i followed your wordpress suggestion...It did not work

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  39. I updated yesterday to iphoto 11. A few photos were lost, the time the images were taken are incorrect on a bunch that I checked, the email function has taken away all my ability to send photos as I want to, which is unframed, untitled and at a size I find acceptable. If you do not click on - Send a copy to email - you have no record of sent mail. The photo recognition is a real joke. With over 7000 facial images it appears I will have to click on each one to put a name to it - which is not going to happen. I had backed up the 170Gb library just in case, plus all photos are burned to DVD. Good thing for back-up for I am going to reinstall iPhoto9. Iphoto 11 is just another bad upgrade which we got suckered into!! I have been using Mac since 1983 and Apple's quality control is steamrolling downhill. They used to be proud of themselves!

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  40. Are the photos actually deleted? I had loaded the iPhoto 11 and just labeled many of them for days and then tonite it said upgrade to 9.1 and BANG all the ones I worked on were gone. I tried time machine to bring it back a day....no luck. What is the next move...Are the photos still there on the drive or are they REALLY gone? APPLE please help...please!

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  41. Whoa whoa on the chmod'ding. Never do this. It can have serious repercussions on other operations by other programs... it's just a do not do, especially for the tech level of users in this comments section.

    Back up, use the Repair Permissions button in Disk Utility and then do your update. Typically what happens is that programs written by companies who do not write software for *Nix environments write bad installers which alter file permissions during installation. You know this is happening is the installer asks you for system password. A good installer will return your permissions to what they should be. Bad ones (I am looking right at you Adobe) will alter them and leave them in a bad state. This bad state allows other software to 'unintentionally' do things to your file system which can lead to corrupt installs, failed upgrades, etc- just like what the chmod -777 can do.

    Always back up what you want to keep. Always. And back it up independently of the OS (eg. do not use Time Machine but instead a cloud service or external drive copy for examples).

    And to get specific about this- force quitting an upgrade should never, ever corrupt data like a photo- the thing the software indexes. If that is in fact what this does, that is a serious problem in the software and means that software should be avoided because it acts as a single point of failure. Try a different app for photo management. Picasa is nice and does not blob your data the way iPhoto does- you might be surprised at how good the feature set is and how much faster it loads and runs.

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  42. It happened again just two days ago with the latest update of iPhoto 11 to version 9.3 (650.39). I had your experience a year ago and painfully restored photos and lost many. But now again, just two days ago when I launched iPhoto 11 a dialogue came up asking if I wanted to update to the latest version of 11. I clicked yes and it began. But when it finished nearly all of my modified photos, some which took hours to restore, were gone. Deleted with just blank black place holders. The thumbnail, name, date, and other info was there. But double clicking yielded a blank screen. The originals were still there, but not available unless I did a Finder search or clicked "restore" original. Thousands of photos affected. Because the thumbnails were still there I wasn't aware until after Time Machine had done it's thing. Fortunately I had a month old clone of my library. But none of the rebuild options in iPhoto have helped since there literally is nothing there. I now have to go back one at a time and manually reimport each photo, manually update info, etc. A posting on Apple's Support site yielded only a scolding for holding Apple responsible for not fixing this after two years and the assertion that I was the only person with this problem.

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  43. I just upgraded to the lastest iPhoto '11 from '08 and it said it had to convert my library. About 4 seconds into the conversion it crashed and now all my photos are gone! I can't find anything in the system except for the 20 most recent images! I did find some folders of "recovered iphoto images" but they are only from the last month or so and when I try to import them, iphoto crashes again! Luckily I backed up by Time Machine, but still I am pissed I spend $15 to upgrade. Also, where are the raw data files of the images???

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  44. Beware. I did the upgrade and thought everything was fine, but later found out that only SOME of the photos had disappeared. They would show up with a dashed line and a gray box only, even though part of the event they were in was fine. I had checked to be sure my total number of photos was the same before and after, but they were nonphotos that wouldn't open. I'm lucky I found the problem before I did another clone.

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