A Window 7 crash causes a lot of frustration and angst while you try and sort the problems – read on to find out what I learned from the experience and how to get back your Photoshop and Lightroom setting and preferences.

In the past I have let windows updates go ahead automatically but this is not a good strategy, as I found out to my cost recently. In fact it can and did cause me a lot of work and angst.

The PC had been working fine all day but a break was need so I had switched it off, and it did an install of updates and when I returned that evening to do some more image work it would not boot up. One of the updates  (most likely a driver update) had changed something and it was stopping the machine from booting up.

The splash screen error message was “unmountable boot error”.

Portrait photographer- Portrait photography - anger
Richard Spurdes Photography – Anger

Which after a lot of web research and the trying different approaches to getting the system to boot again, I decided that the best solution was to reinstall the operating system on a new hard disc. This is of course a real pain as all your programs have to be reinstalled and then you have to find your key codes and then for programs like Photoshop your actions and setting too.

Fortunately all my images are stored on a separate Raid 5 drive, so they were ok I just need my operating system and programs back to be able to work with the image again. The timing of this event was of course practically bad as firstly I was half way through rebuilding my website follow its crash and I had my first camera club talk of this season coming up in two weeks and my presentation was only half done.

So what did I learn from this exercise, that is worth passing on in this blog: firstly don’t let windows do automatic updating turn this off. Just remember to check once a week to see what is in the list updates and make your own mind up about what to install.

Here is the windows info for changing that setting  info  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/turn-automatic-updating-on-off#turn-automatic-updating-on-off=windows-vista

  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update.
  2. In the left pane, click Change settings.
  3. Choose the option that you want.
  4. Under Recommended updates, select the Include recommended updates when downloading, installing, or notifying me about updates check box, and then click OK.

As a photographer who uses both Lightroom and Photoshop making a back up of your preferences / setting files for both these programs is well worth the small effort.

These are located on a Windows machine in the following locations on your system drive

Users/[Username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop [version #]/Adobe Photoshop [version #] Settings

Users/[Username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Lightroom [version #]/Adobe Lightroom [version #] Preference

These can be found by searching for  (*.agprefs)

Here is also a list of location of other bit of the Photoshop program that might be of use too.

ActionsActions panel.pspUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings
Camera Raw.xmp files saved from Camera Raw dialogUsers/[user name]/AppData/Adobe/CameraRaw/Settings
Color settings (Color management)Color Settings.csfUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings
Custom Color settings (Color management)Userdefined.csfUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Color/Settings
Custom proof setups (Color management)Userdefined.psfUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Color/Proofing
Editing and painting toolsBrushes.psp, Contours.psp, Custom Shapes.psp, Gradients.psp, Patterns.psp, Styles.psp, Swatches.psp, ToolPresets.pspUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings/Presets
Filters and EffectsAdobe Effect CS5 Prefs, Adobe Filter Gallery CS5 Prefs, Adobe Lens Blur CS5 Prefs, Adobe Lens Correction CS5 Prefs, Adobe Liquify CS5 PrefsUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Plugins/[effect or filter name]/Photoshop
General settingsAdobe Photoshop CS5 Prefs.psp (32-bit version)(X64) CS5 Prefs.psp (64-bit version)Users/[user  name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings
Saved Presets[User defined]Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/[feature name]
Workspaces[User Defined][Workspaces that have been modified}Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings/WorkspacesUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings/Workspaces (Modified)

You can also find these by searching using *.psp file

Armed with this info I was able to get most of my setting/ preferences back for both these programs as I could read the disc that would not boot in file manager so the various setting could be copy and replaced.

Always rename the original preference files before replacing it with your preferences that way if they are corrupt then you can go back to that file. I usually use .old as the file extension.

Here is one really useful but useless bit of information that I thought might solve my issue was that Window 7 can be re installed on top of itself, but only if Window 7 is running. (smile)

The other thing that is well worth doing is backing up your Lightroom catalogue, its file name is:  Catalog.lrcat. I now make sure that I back this up weekly and I would strongly advise that these backups are on a different drive to your Lightroom installation, a stand alone hard drive is well worth the investment for this purpose. Keeping them separate avoids losing your catalog and your backups at the same time.

I also now store a copy of my catalog off site.

The other important files that are worth making a backup copy of are paper profiles; on a Windows based machine these are located here:

C: Windows, System32, Spool, Drivers, Color

Well worth getting those backup too.