Lightroom 2.5 BSOD

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 ( 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.

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7 Responses to “Lightroom 2.5 BSOD”

  1. digitalshootingdotnet Says:

    A scary story ! No idea about what happened. After all, it’s Windows 😉 The best way to keep your files safe is to backup them on an external hard disk, or even 2. I use SyncBack for that. A freeware software. Works very fast and is reliable.

  2. macphotographydy Says:

    You’re right. Get a mac not a solution but at least you won’t get freaked out by the loss. And yes, I too back up all my files on a few externals. My mac only runs for viewing + post processing photos and surfing the net. Good luck.

    • digitalshootingdotnet Says:

      In fact I was using linux for 5 years until march of this year. Never had any system stability problem even during more than 3 weeks sessions without turning off the computer or restarting the system. Rock stable. Then, a friend of mine sold me an Asus P5WDH mainboard with an E8400 cpu. The 6mb of L2 cache are amazing on raw treatment. Unfortunately the mainboard has a sata controler which is not recognized by any linux kernel, still today, thus I’m using Vista. I will probably buy a new mainboard soon and will reconsider the linux option. Digikam is a good tool for raw photo management although not as powerful as LightRoom. For raw treatment I have a BibblePro license but UFRaw and the Gimp (in combination with DigiKam) can do the job too. If system stability is of major concern you should give a try to a linux distribution. Plus, it’s free.

      • digitalshootingdotnet Says:

        Sorry, this reply was for BKKPhotographer.

      • BKKPhotographer Says:

        I suspect it was either a transient disk error or Lightroom attempted to free some memory that didn’t belong to it. Both could happen on any system and the OS would take a dim view of it.

        My story was more a parable about not only backing up your catalog but also your configuration and also about not panicking when things seem screwed up when you restart Lightroom after a crash of any sort.

  3. BKKPhotographer Says:

    I agree. I use the free Microsft SyncToy to backup to external hard drives and Mozy Home for backing up to “the cloud”.

    If the catalog was corrupt it would not have been a disaster, just very annoying and time wasting.

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