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Unifying different iPhoto libraries & photos not in a library

Time:November 30
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I am still trying to fix some iPhoto issues that have cropped up due to hard drive failures. We have had 3 hard drives in about 2.5 years. We have several thousand (maybe 20K?) pictures in our library. Because it takes so long to back-up the library, and because I have been told that intense things like working in iMovie and backing up huge iPhoto libraries physically wears down the hard drive, I had tried backing up by adding new rolls of film to my external hard drive. THESE ROLLS WERE NOT ADDED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE IPHOTO LIBRARY, and I now realize that I have messed up iPhoto's cooperation between Modified, Originals, and Thumbnails. But, I'd like to have one cohesive library again, and just from now on back up the entire library every time. So, here's my questions:
(1) Before this last hard drive crash this spring, I had two iPhoto Library back-ups of the entire library on external hard drives. One from 7/2006 and one from 10/2006. These include thumbnails, originals, modified, everything.
(2) After 10/2006, I have the year-named folders (from the Originals folder, I believe) saved separately. I.e., I have the 2007,2006, etc folder saved outside of the iPhoto library on my external hard drives.
(3) When this last internal hd failed this spring, I imported the back-up from 7/2006, rather than the later one from 10/2006. Photos have been added to this library since then. So...now I have my active iPhoto library containing photos up to 7/2006 and since 3/2007. Photos taken from 8/2006 to 2/2007 are missing.
(5) I still have all the entire library up to 10/2006 saved.
(6) The missing photos from 8/2006 to 2/2007 are contained in separate folders stored only by their yearly folder, not stored within the iPhoto library.
How can I combine all this to make one cohesive library, always to saved as a unit, never to be picked apart again? I need to do this soon. I appreciate all your help!
Deanna
iMac G5   Mac OS X (10.4.8)  
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Deanna:
Here's what I'd do.
1 - launch the working library that has the most files in it.
2 - locate those photos that are in folders only and not in any library and import into the primary library. If there are duplicates in there for any reason, iPhoto will alert you and you can opt not to import duplicates.
3 - use iPhoto Library Manager to copy the rolls of the other library(s) into your primary library like this. You can set the options to not import duplicates. Using iPLM will let you keep comments and keywords intact between the libraries.
4 - once you have your primary library up to date and are satisfied that it is current, delete the other library(s) and folders of files.
5 - copy the primary iPhoto Library folder to the external HD as your backup.
6 - use a backup application likeSynk (other backup applications were reviewed by MacWorld in their Feb issue- also online I think) to backup the library on a regular basis. Using a backup application only those files which have changed or added are copied making it very quick.
7 - follow the tip at the end of my signature to make a backup of the database file, Library6.iPhoto, after every import, after any considerable work on books, calendars, etc. and at least once a day.
Do you Twango?
TIP: For insurance against the iPhoto database corruption that many users have experienced I recommend making a backup copy of the Library6.iPhoto database file and keep it current. If problems crop up where iPhoto suddenly can't see any photos or thinks there are no photos in the library, replacing the working Library6.iPhoto file with the backup will often get the library back. By keeping it current I mean backup after each import and/or any serious editing or work on books, slideshows, calendars, cards, etc. That insures that if a problem pops up and you do need to replace the database file, you'll retain all those efforts. It doesn't take long to make the backup and it's good insurance.
I've written an Automator workflow application (requires Tiger), iPhoto dB File Backup, that will copy the selected Library6.iPhoto file from your iPhoto Library folder to the Pictures folder, replacing any previous version of it. You can download it at Toad's Cellar. Be sure to read the Read Me pdf file.
MBP 2.16Ghz; G5 Dual Core 2GHz, 2G RAM ea, 250G HD; G4 Dual 1Ghz, 1.5G RAM;   Mac OS X (10.4.9)   22" LCD, 710G FW HDs, Canon: SD700IS/i850/LIDE 50, Epson R200, 30G iPod, 2G Nano
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