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!