Are you backing up your pictures and your Photoshop Elements Catalog? Are you using the PSE Backup command, or some other software program to this? Some of my students, especially those that are new to PSE are doing little to protect their images from either a hard disk crash or some kind of virus. Both can strike without warning. If you have never experienced either one of these catastrophes, you will.
I personally use the PSE Backup command to do my backups. This command not only backs up all of my pictures, audio files, and videos, but also the Catalog file that is the heart of PSE’s Organizer. The number of pictures in my catalog is rapidly approaching 23,000. There are a lot of memories contained in those photos. My ability to find any given picture within 1-2 minutes using the Categories, Sub-Categories, and Tags I have assigned them over the years is critical to me. It’s the Catalog file that contains all of this information about my pictures, including the link as to where a given image is stored on my computer.
I have been using the built-in Backup command since it became available in PSE 3. It has worked well for me, and on more than one occasion, its companion command Restore prevented an inconvenience from becoming a disaster. This command can also be used when moving your pictures and Catalog to a new computer. I wrote a couple of articles here about a year ago discussing the Backup and Restore commands. Click here.
Many of my students are backing up their pictures and other data using dedicated backup software that may run automatically. In general, this is a very good approach. However, when I ask them if they are backing up their Catalog file with their chosen program, they normally can’t tell me. The Catalog file is absolutely essential if you ever have to recover your pictures and get the Organizer working properly again. This file holds the pointers to the physical location of your pictures, all of the category, sub-category, and tag assignments, as well as all of the other information you or PSE has generated about your pictures.
Most of us, don’t even know where this file is stored. However, it is easy to find this out right from within the program. From the Organizer’s Menu, click on Help > System Info. A screen like the figure below will be displayed. You can print it or copy it to a document. As you can see, it contains a lot of useful information in addition to the location of the Catalog file.
The Catalog file is not a large file. It does not contain your pictures, just the critical information about them. In my case, my Catalog file is only 89 Mb. This is for my catalog that contains almost 23,000 images and takes about 115 Gb of storage space to back up.
So what does all this mean to you? Well, if you are not doing any backups now, you should do one immediately using the built-in Backup Command in PSE. If you are already backing up your computer with other software, verify that the Catalog file is included. If it is not add it to the list of folders/files being backed up, or at least routinely back it separately.
One final suggestion, if you are having trouble with your computer and have it repaired by technician, make sure they are aware of this important file. I have helped several people get PSE running properly again, after they had their PC worked on. Although all of their pictures were recovered, PSE could not find them, because the Catalog file itself was not properly restored.
Until next time,