a solution to a persistent Bridge CS3 problem

a solution to a persistent Adobe Bridge CS3 problem (Windows)

A few days ago I posted on an online forum about a persistent problem I’ve been having with Bridge CS3.  The problem arises when I open Bridge and navigate to a folder, in that Bridge doesn’t show any thumbnails but will just show a blank grey right-hand pane.

Just a few hours later, one of the most knowledgeable photographers on the forum, Brian Tao, came up with several possible causes and solutions.   Since I believe that the problem is quite prevalent, and the solution not obvious at all, I thought that it would be of benefit to a lot of Bridge CS3 users here if I posted the solution here.

Here is the cry for help that I posted:

I’ve been using Bridge CS3 (and ACR) to edit my weddings the past two years, but it has become so unstable now that it is holding me up. I have even resorted to re-installing Photoshop CS3 six or seven times just in the past two months alone, just to fix try and fix this specific Bridge problem. (It has been such a prevalent problem that I now keep the CS3 install files on my desktop so I don’t have to go find and load the discs.)

The symptoms: When I open bridge and navigate to a folder, Bridge doesn’t show any thumbnails, but will just show a blank grey right-hand pane. Then I have to cntl-alt-del out of it. Once it does that, then no amount of rebooting, or trashing preferences or clearing caches, etc will work … I have to re-install CS3.

But right now even that isn’t working. I have re-installed CS3 twice now in the past day … and the problem persists. I have now gone back to canon’s DPP to edit my weddings .. and what a relief! DPP is so much much faster and more reliable. But I still need Bridge CS3 to work for other things I do on the computer.

Any ideas as to what I could do to resuscitate Bridge again ?
(btw, this is on a PC with XP.)

Here is the suggested solution that Brian Tao came up with:

Here’s something you can try. Quit out of Bridge. Find a folder called “bridgestore”. (It is in the folder where you set Bridge to keep the cache.) Rename that “bridgestore-old”. Now fire up Bridge again and keep an eye on that folder. You’ll see that Bridge will create a fresh “bridgestore” folder. You will lose all your previews, thumbnails, keywords, etc. for now, but this might solve the problem.

And in fact, it did solve the problem.  Here is Brian’s explanation of why:

Bridge uses an internal database system called MySQL, which is the same database powering many of the web sites on the Internet today. The Bridge database holds things like your keyword structure, the index to your previews, the actual preview graphic data itself, etc. For some reason, one or more of these databases becomes corrupted. It’s impossible to say why, because we can only see the effects, not the cause. It could be an unrelated bug in Bridge causing it to crash, or maybe part of the database handling code itself has bugs, or maybe there is some odd interaction between the Bridge code and the MySQL code (which Adobe licenses, but does not develop themselves).

Whatever the cause, the database containing the preview cache becomes corrupted. Although MySQL sees the problem and makes note of it in the .err file, Bridge seems to ignore the errors, and attempts to blindly stumble forward, despite the database problems. It’s kind of like running over rocky terrain in the dark with no flashlight… eventually you’re going to trip and fall.

The immediate problem is that Bridge does not report the error (not many people know about the .err file), and Bridge provides no tools to fix the database. Clearing your preview cache does not help, because that operation requires a functioning, uncorrupted database. Bridge does not offer the option to simply delete all the files and start from scratch.

I haven’t verified this, but I’m pretty sure that reinstalling Bridge (well, all of Photoshop, I guess) does not delete existing databases either. This is normally a good thing, since it’s nice to have caches and preference settings “remembered” after a reinstall. But in the case of a corrupted database, the two things most people are taught to do — purging the cache and reinstalling Photoshop (well, three things if you include rebooting the computer) — don’t solve this problem. So to the end user, it looks like it’s an ongoing problem with Bridge or the OS.

Hopefully this will benefit many other photographers who are also driven up the wall with this specific hiccup.  Thanks again Brian!

29 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1 says

    Brilliant explanation. I have been experiencing these issues for some time now that I nearly quit using Bridge. I use PhotoMechanic instead to quickly preview my RAW files. I’ll have to try and purge the folder Brian mentions. Thanks guys!

  2. 2Adam Nollmeyer says

    THANKS for the explanation, I had the same problem several months ago. I somehow figured out to make a new longin on my windows XP machine and it “fixed” the problem on that login, which makes sense because each login gets a diff folder in adobe.

    I finally googled and found a different blog post on how to fix it, however they did not have a detailed explanation of WHY or talk about the MySql database. Good things to know if you’re a geek.

    My friend Dan Coogan called and couldn’t figure out his problem on his MB Pro. I remembered having to kill a directory, but wanted to find the article. I I one again googled and found this article instead.

    Way to blog to help others out.

    Adam in Phoenix.

  3. 3 says

    I am a software engineer and I know these kinda issues that just won’t go away. I actually found a simple solution to the Bridge problem. DO NOT USE CENTRALIZED CACHE. USE THE OPTION WHERE CACHE IS CREATED IN THE INDIVIDUAL FOLDER. This not only solved the above mentioned problem, but also improved the performance of the Bridge CS3. Hope this helps other fellow photographers struggling with this issue.

    Raj Hundal

  4. 4martin says

    at first i could not find bridgestore, then i included in the folder search hidden files/folders and after months without bridge i now have bridge operating thank you

  5. 5 says

    Yes, it is a hidden folder, so you need to enable Windows Explorer to show you the folder.

    The folder’s path will be different for everyone, depending on your user name on that particular computer.

    Searching for ‘bridgestore’ in Windows Explorer will show it.

    Neil vN

  6. 6 says

    Neil –

    Thanks for the write up on this. This is an extremely frustrating problem, especially when work is left to be done and deadlines are looming. Bridge is a great app, with great potential, and a few HUGE issues, and this is one of them. I wanted to make a post for the OS X (Mac) users who wanted to solve this problem as well.

    Mac users can find the BridgeStore directory by following this path in Finder: (REMEMBER that the tilde (squiggly line) below is your computer’s “Home” folder. Mine is “ronadair”, yours will likely be your own name)

    ~/Library/Caches/Adobe/Bridge CS3/Cache/data/BridgeStore

    The above path is the same as this:

    {Hard Drive}/Users/{Your Home Folder}/Library/Caches/Adobe/Bridge CS3/Cache/data/BridgeStore

    Hope this helps!

  7. 7Guy says

    The path on Bridge CS4 is
    C:\Documents and Settings\{user}\Application Data\Adobe\Bridge CS4\Cache\data\BridgeStore

  8. 8David says

    I had a similar problem, but on Mac OSX.

    It began when my iPhone went to sleep while Adobe Photo Downloader was retrieving images from it. The result was that when I tried to click on the folders that were created by the downloader, Bridge would become unresponsive, showing just the gray background.

    I had Bridge set to export the cache to the folders themselves, so I was at a loss for what to do.

    Fortunately, I was able to figure out how to show hidden files in the finder (defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES), which allowed me to delete the corrupted cache files in each folder.

    Voila! working fine again.

  9. 9David says

    P.S. that command to show hidden files is run in the terminal, and requires that you relaunch the finder (apple-option-esc) to see the files. Once done, run the same command again but change the YES to NO, again relaunching the finder.

  10. 10Lumiere says

    Oh my! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been manually deleting the cache files for the last few weeks *every* time I have to open up a folder.

    The solution you posted was the fix!

  11. 12W. B. Winburn says

    Thanks so much for keeping Brian’s solution up there, when this happened to me I just freaked because I was under a very tight deadline for a children’s book and had never experienced anything like this, luckily I could just import the files into Lightroom 2 and keep working but I still wanted to solve the problem. Brian’s solution was actually an easier and better one than the suggestion I got from the NAPP Adobe Help Desk.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, it’s people like yourself and Brian who take the time to post these helpful solutions that make the Worldwide Web the amazing resource it is!
    All the best….Will

  12. 13PV says

    Bridge started crashing over and over recently. Ignored it for a bit, but then the same identical problem, thumbnails not appearing or only a few in each folder. Tried all the same fixes listed above. Just tried the suggestion above by Brian and presto I can see the thumbnails on my hard drive again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Thank you – I searched quite awhile online for a fix and this seems to be the only one. Prefer to be anonymous – but thanks again. Not sure how to change the cache settings to be non-centralized, though? I can’t see an option for this under the Bridge Preferences. Where is this?

  13. 14 says

    PV .. it is set under:

    Preferences >> Cache >> Automatically export cache to folders when possible.

    Also make sure that for ACR preferences, you have it set that the edits for the raw files are kept in the xmp files, instead of a central database.

    Neil vN

  14. 15Josh H says

    Thank you so much for publishing this page!!
    I’ve had this problem the last few months and this solved it for now.

  15. 16 says

    THANK YOU for posting this fix!!! I was going crazy following others’ advice on deleting prefs and p.lists. Ever since I upgraded to Mac Leopard I’ve been having a host of issues (intermittent Internet, problems with Adobe products, you name it). I’m writing this on my laptop running Tiger because of all the problems I’m having since the upgrade. Again, thanks!!

    Bobby M – formerly frustrated but now relieved wedding photographer

  16. 17DesireeSmock says

    Hi – thank you for sharing this information. I am wondering now if I can/should delete the old bridgestore folder? It’s 9GB in size, if I don’t need it, can I trash it? Thanks!


  17. 19 says

    I just found this post…am i the process of determining if the posted “fix” of renaming the [bridgestore] file to [brigestore.old] works or not…

    …but here is a particularly frustrating problem that I am recently having…

    …a fairly large number of my image files will only appear in BRIDGE as the PS3/CR3 icons, and will not open in PS. Has anyone had THIS particular experience and is there a way to solve it…

    …This is driving me crazy as well…Thanks for any assistance on this.


  18. 20 says

    Jay … I suspect you are using a newer camera than which Adobe Camera RAW in CS3 has been updated to.

    You will have to upgrade to CS4 or CS5 to fix this.

    Neil vN

  19. 21 says

    Well…Just tried the renaming “fix” – reopened PSCS3, and invoked BRIDGE…as has become usual of late…it worked great for awhile, then the same old same old…screen of BRIDGE went gray and had to close the program.

    I have reached the part where I begin to bang my head against the wall…

    H E L P !


  20. 22 says

    Hey Neil…Thanx for the quick reply…No to the camera idea…I am using the same trusty CANON 5D, which is the camera that I actually took many of the images that are now appearing as the ICONS i mention…

  21. 24Kristen Peelle says

    Thank you! This simple fix worked for me. Wondering if I should delete the “BridgeSort-old” file now, or just leave it. Since things are working, I will probably leave well enough alone.

  22. 25Rex A. Butcher says

    Have just been sent a link to this site and the Bridge problem solution. Have not tried ti yet, but have one concern.

    I supply images to stock libraries and they all require key-wording. If recreating the BridgeStore folder deletes the keywords, is there a way to import them without invoking the thumbnail issue again?



  23. 26 says

    So, I got completely fed up with my constantly crashing bridge and stumbled upon this sete. Hello DWF! I think I may have found and eliminated the larges hidden cache folder yet…145 gigs.

    Wow, hope things run a bit more smoothly now.

    Thanks so much :-)


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