Yesterday I was quietly using Lightroom 2.5 on my Windows XP laptop. I shut it down as normal. But this time something caused the infamous Windows “Blue Screen of Death”. The screen blanked too quickly for me to see the reason. Windows restarted normally and I started Lightroom again.
My heart sank because it opened a catalog with no pictures in it. My first thought was that my catalog had evaporated. Then I realised that it had opened a default blank catalog and not the last one it had opened.
I opened my working catalog and all seemed fine but for the fact that my customised nameplate and panel end marks were set to the Lightroom defaults. Upon a closer examination I found that none of my plugins were registered either.
I added back my nameplate and panel end marks and started to reload my plugins. Then I saw that the once I purchased from Jeff Friedl (Picasa and Flickr Uploaders, Metadata Presets and so on) were all unregistered. I was wondering if I had saved the registration information – the receipt numbers from Paypal when I made my donations.)
Then it dawned on me – the problem was that Lightroom’s preferences file had evaporated. That’s a separate file called Lightroom 2 Preferences.agprefs in the directory C:\Documents and Settings\BKKPhotographer\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Preferences. Windows hides all the folders in the Application Data tree by default so I had to hunt for it.
I had a backup of the file in a ZIP archive stored by my Config Backup plugin (http://www.thephotogeek.com/lightroom/config-backup/). I restored that file and everything was back to normal. It seems that Jeff Friedl stores plugin registration information in this file.
The problem is that I have no idea what went wrong. Cosmic rays? A transient disk failure? I’ve exited Lightroom without problems hundreds of times in the six months I have had this PC. What changed?
I could have searched around for some Windows dump file but I don’t think it would have been illuminating.
I doubt “Get a Mac” would be a solution: they have fallible hardware too. It could have been a lot worse. It was a reminder that even with up-to-date equipment and software you can lose everything with no warning. Much as I dislike it I must think like an IT Manager if I want to keep my work safe.