Windows ate my Lightroom catalogue

On Thursday my PC got the latest Windows 10 update. On Friday, my external hard drive had disappeared. Lightroom still showed my photographs using its previews, but it couldn't find the originals. Every single folder displayed a question mark. Hundreds of thousands of image files had gone missing.

The more I researched the problem online the more worried I became. Neither the online help systems nor the user forums of either Microsoft or Western Digital turned up the simple, clear, recent advice I wanted: “It's a well-known issue, just do x and y.” Instead, the articles and threads were long and confusing, with multiple options and many comments of the “I tried that, but it didn’t work” type. Many suggested reformatting the hard drive as the best solution.


I told myself to stay calm. It was true that everything was backed up in the cloud. But still, downloading terabytes of data and rebuilding my Lightroom catalogue was not the way I had planned to spend my weekend.

I turned off the PC.

I unplugged the hard drive from the USB port and powered it down.

I turned on the PC.

I powered up the hard drive and plugged it back into a different USB port.

Reader, it worked! Everything is back to normal. Windows sees the drive again, even on wake from sleep or hard reboot. Lightroom knows where to find each photograph.

Birds: singing. Sun: shining.

Microsoft: 0. Simon: 1