Synchronisation and “Lightroom encountered an error when reading from its preview cache and needs to quit”

29 August 2016 – I have updated this article – read right through to the end.

A few weeks back the hard drive in my laptop started to play up. Web pages took a minute to open. Booting up took 15 minutes. Disk diagnostics did not want to run. Fortunately I store no data on my laptop’s drive. And I  had a spare three year old SSD in my drawer. I swapped the duff drive for the SSD and did a clean install of Windows 10, connected to Google Drive and whoosh. What a difference an SSD makes. Everything is snappier. I will never go back to a spinning disk again.

As it was a clean installation of the opsys I reconsidered each application I had. I dropped over half of them. I’m down from about 15 to 6. That’s easier to control. Were it not for Adobe Lightroom I wouldn’t need a PC at all. With the exception of my photo processing everything else runs in the cloud. But I kind of understand Windows, 10 is very good and with the SSD even my luggable commodity laptop is quick, has lots of ports and is flexible. I do keep a Chromebook for the days when the I just need a second device but the laptop is what I use most.

Anyhow…there I am with a whizzy, reborn laptop. And Google Drive. So I rethought my Lightroom configuration. I decided to put my Lightroom catalog in Google Drive. Heck, why not? The catalog is the key database – without it all I have is thousands of photographs with no organisation. There’d be a copy on my PC and a copy in the Google Cloud. And I’m good about backing up my Google Cloud – overnight copies by CloudAlly, weekly copies to my Synology NAS and annual archives to Amazon Glacier.

I did it. I started Lightroom. I was editing some photos. And then:

Lightroom encountered an error when reading from its preview cache and needs to quit

Bugger. And quit it did. I reopened LR – and it quit again and again. I scoured the interweb. I was told to delete the Preiews.lrdata file. It wouldn’t delete. I rebooted and then the deletion worked. I restarted Lightroom – and got the same error – and Lightroom closed. This time I used my Windows 10 Admin account to delete the file. And, again, I repeated the cycle. And so did Lightroom. Bugger.

I scoured the interwubz even more. Lots of people were getting this message from Lightroom. There were lots of suggestions as to what to do – but they did not work.

Knowing that I’d just moved to Google Drive, and suspecting that there as an interplay between Google’s synchronising and Lightroom updating the previews, I paused the Google Drive app on my laptop. Peace reigned. I resumed the app and the error reappeared. This isn’t proof of course, but it convinced me.

I did consider using my Synology NAS and its own synchronisation, Cloud Station. By default Lightroom likes to put catalogs in the Pictures library anyway. And I already synchronise that with my NAS. But…but…I don’t currently backup Pictures to any cloud provider. I only use that Library for slide shows on the house’s televisions. So I would lose my backups in depth without yet more changes. And, the killer, looking at the Synology forums Cloud Station’s synchronisation causes the same error, “Lightroom encountered an error when reading from its preview cache and needs to quit”. Bugger.

Yes, that’s right. I suspect all sync providers upset LIghtroom’s previews. OneDrive. Dropbox, the lot. Don’t do it. Don’t try and sync your catalogs.

So, what should I do? The obvious options are:

  • Make my workflow pause Google Drive, run Lightroom, resume Google Drive. There appears to be no means of automating pause and resume. Am I disciplined enough? I know this works. I’m doing it now.
  • Move the Lightroom catalog outside of the scope of any synchronisation. I’d simply use Lightroom’s built in backup mechanism – and target Google Drive. That’d work. It’s just a teensy bit messy. By default Lightroom stores the backups within a Backup folder within the catalog’s folder. I’d have to change that – and remember that I’d tweaked another default. (I dislike changing defaults, I often miss the tweaks during upgrades.) I know this would work. It’s old skool.

I shall post this in the hope that it might help some other poor unsuspecting sod. And, who knows, maybe Adobe will notice and change how previews are done.

ps a camera club colleague uses Microsoft OneDrive and has not had this problem. Maybe OneDrive works better. Maybe it is something to do with the way my rig does previews. Maybe he’s just lucky and I’m not. Your mileage may vary.

Update 29 August 2016. So, what did I ultimately do? I ceased performing unnatural acts. My Lightroom catalogue resides on my C: drive, as God intended. At the closing of Lightroom a backup is taken every single time – and this backup is kept on Google Drive – so I have an immediate offsite backup. Once a month I delete all but the last three backups. So I avoid the synchronisation problem altogether. 

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5 Responses to Synchronisation and “Lightroom encountered an error when reading from its preview cache and needs to quit”

  1. I’m using Drive too and I’ve run into the same problem. Pausing Drive is a great idea for when Lightroom is running, if a little tedious. Thanks for the post, now I know I’m not the only one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stubbyd says:

    Just for the record I use Crashplan (aka Code42) and have never had a problem in 5yrs of running LR with that auto-backing up. It’s not quite syncing but it is cloud backup.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Simon says:

    Thanks! Just hit the same pitfall and this article really helped.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. steve says:

    Hint: Exclude the preview cache folder and the lock files from sync. I use synology sync and it is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jsam says:

      Good stuff, thank you.

      I’ll still stick with this, myself. But others’ mileage will vary.

      Update 29 August 2016. So, what did I ultimately do? I ceased performing unnatural acts. My Lightroom catalogue resides on my C: drive, as God intended. At the closing of Lightroom a backup is taken every single time – and this backup is kept on Google Drive – so I have an immediate offsite backup. Once a month I delete all but the last three backups. So I avoid the synchronisation problem altogether.

      Like

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