Botched Lightroom CC Update Causes Major Data Loss

As a recent Adobe Lightroom CC update causes major data loss to many users, Adobe officials offers no solution to recover them. What went wrong? Should you be worried? Let’s see how it all happened and what you can do about it.

Lightroom CC 5.4 Update can cause data loss

Adobe recently released version 5.4 of its cloud-based version of Lightroom CC. After updating their app on iPhone or iPad, users opening Lightroom were met with lost photos and presets. Subreddit /Lightroom and Adobe support forum contain horror stories of users losing their photos, sometimes more than two years of hard work disappeared. I remember updating Lightroom CC on my iPad myself on the very same day of its release but I didn’t open it as the update looked pretty minor. Since the story came out I went back to the App Store in order to apply version 5.4.1 to prevent the issue hitting my own photo library.

Recent Lightroom version history
Recent Lightroom version history

This issue is certainly affect users trust for months to come. Add this to the fact that many Adobe users already don’t like the subscription model, if on top of that they cannot trust their software, they will start to look elsewhere. It’s already happening if you read comments on DPReview article on the matter. People are looking at CaptureOne or Affinity Photo. Before shopping around, let’s see what exactly happened.

Not all users affected by the buggy update of Lightroom

Reading carefully the comments of affected people, those who were affected didn’t have an Adobe Cloud subscription. An official statement from Adobe confirms this. In other words, photos in the cloud were safe. My recent post on Micro.blog was a bit misleading in that respect. Since the photos were not uploaded to the cloud, this may explain in part why Adobe cannot offer a way to recover them except asking the users to restore their device with a recent iCloud or iTunes backup1. That being said, it doesn’t excuse Adobe for offering lame response like this:

We know that some customers have photos and presets that are not recoverable. We know how frustrating and upsetting this will be to people affected and we sincerely apologize.

Ouch. If I was given this type of response after loosing two years of hard photo processing work, I would be fuming. Some users have been offered a seven days trial of Adobe Cloud subscription. Think about it for a minute. How lame is this? Adobe should offer a lifetime subscription, nothing less! I can only imagine people losing unique photos that won’t ever be recovered.

How do you prevent data loss in Adobe Lightroom?

Preventing data loss in Adobe Lightroom requires the same strategy for all type of applications running on your devices: back them up! iCloud Backups is a no brainer these days. If you don’t want to pay for additional iCloud storage then plug your devices to your Mac or PC and back them up there, as often as possible. This strategy is for data protection on the device itself. The data lost issue affecting Lightroom users was for locally stored photos not synced to Adobe Cloud.

How do you prevent data loss in the cloud?

Lightroom CC cloud storage status on iPad
Lightroom CC cloud storage status on iPad

What about data in the cloud? That is quite another story. You don’t use the cloud for backup purposes but for convenience. This is quite different. Having photos available to all your subscribed devices is convenient. This is the purpose of Adobe Cloud and Apple’s iCloud Photo Library. Should you trust the cloud as a backup service? Absolutely not. I don’t. Yet, how should I backup my 40K photos stored in my iCloud Photo Library? There is an interesting article about this on iMore “How to back up your iCloud Photo Library” which contains many strategies. I could turn on the option to download all the originals on my Mac. Trouble is the size of my internal SSD is 1 TB and I don’t have enough free space to download my complete photo library. This is exactly where things get tricky.

Is Adobe in trouble?

Following the Lightroom CC update snafu, Adobe is adding fuel to resentment toward them. Looking at the support forums, Adobe is often in hot water because of buggy software releases for which users despise while being paying subscribers. Users perception is that Adobe is being greedy and doesn’t always care for the rest. Personally, I’m mostly positive about Adobe in general as well as for their photo processing apps. Thanks god, their updates to Lightroom CC can be really useful too.

  1. One quick question: when is the last time you did a backup of your iPad or iPhone?

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