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Aperture 3: Upgrading Aperture 2 Libraries May Cause Headaches

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So Aperture 3 (s aapl) is finally out. The trial has been an absolute dream to play with. It doesn’t upgrade your existing Aperture 2 library, so you need to test it on newly imported images. However, for those who immediately bit the bullet and upgraded with a full license, it hasn’t been all roses. If you’re new to Aperture in version 3, you may carry on with your day — but if you’re moving from version 2 to the 3, you should probably read on.

Hopefully, you’re reading this before you’ve run into any problems. Here at TheAppleBlog, we aim to lessen your pain. It should go without saying, but please, please, make sure you’ve got at least one backup of your Aperture library. You should have this on any given day of course, but it counts double when you’re planning on upgrading and performing any changes to software in general. With that public service announcement out of the way, we can talk tragedies (hopefully averted).

I haven’t had issues first hand (thankfully), because I’m still just using the trial version on a newly created version 3 library. But as my father-in-law dove right in, he’s had nothing but pain and frustration as Aperture 3 has attempted to update his existing library to the newer database structure. Looking at the Apple Support forums for Aperture shows that he’s not alone.

The culprit seems to be at the point in time when the library file is being converted/upgraded. The beach ball of death comes on full force, and in turn makes the Mac unusable. This can go on for hours! At best you can restart and avoid the upgrade until there’s a fix to the issue — at worst, you may lose library data.

Apple Support has recommended trying the Aperture Library First Aid. You have the option to Repair Permissions, Repair Database, or Rebuild Database with this tool. To access, you’ll need to open an Aperture Library file directly, and hold Option+Command while doing so. These processes have not proven to fix the issue, but are at least worth attempting.

116 responses (at the time of this write-up) may not be a lot, relatively speaking, but clearly represents an issue to be aware of. If you’re considering buying the upgrade to Aperture 3, you may want to keep an eye on this forum until there’s an identified issue or fix. Happy upgrading!

Thanks to Tom for the tip on this, and good luck!

58 Responses to “Aperture 3: Upgrading Aperture 2 Libraries May Cause Headaches”

  1. Add me to the upgrade from hell list. I get the “processing” message and the spinning wheel until A3 eventually crashes. Repairing permissions and database didn’t help. What HAS worked is started up while holding the shift key. As long as I remember to do that, A3 works.

  2. Monica Neely

    How do I go back to A2? I haven’t even gotten A3 to go past “check file permissions” so I have not even imported anything. After reading all of these posts, I would like to go back to A2 until all is fixed. I can’t find A2 now.

  3. I was so excited about all the new features in A3 and I feel like we have been waiting so long for it. The upgrade has been the worst ever! I have about 30,000 images in my library. Finally got all the images from A2 in. All A3 will do is think for a while and quit unexpectedly. Support says there is corruption. Really?? Why does everyone seem to be having the same problems? Please, for now, I’d like A2 back until things get fixed. For now, enter at your own risk!! Also just bought another new 1T back-up.

  4. Michael Berlin

    My A2 Database contains about 50.000 Photos, some of them are very large – up to 250MB. The Upgrade process completely failed. A3 needed even with a fresh repaired A2 Library somewhat around 64GB RAM (i only have 4 GB RAM), after 4 days processing time and a extremly hot harddisk i gave up. Wasted Money! It seems that i have to work with A2 until Apples delivers an update with fixes the bug.

  5. I had slowdown problems too and Aperture 3 even ate up all my harddrive space for virtual memory. What I had to do was reduce the size of my library by exporting folders to new libraries (I was going to do this anyway). Then I added the “Activity” button to the toolbar and had to pause and/or cancel the processing of the photos when I was on the computer. I restarted the processing when I stepped away from the computer. Processing of the library finished a little bit ago (finally!) and now I have speed back! Woo hoo!

  6. Wouldn’t make the switch/conversion just yet. For some reason, I have quite a few images (raw canon 5d) files that were part of a project that won’t render in Aperture, nor in Photoshop, Canon’s software or C1Pro any longer. In Aperture, the thumbnails are this distorted mosaics, and when you hit “M” for master, they’re just black.

    I can export the master, and then re-import them back into Aperture and they appear fine etc…, however when these are exported again as masters, they are still unable to open in Photoshop. They CAN be viewed in Bridge and then opened in Adobe Camera Raw from within Bridge, then click “open” and they appear in Photoshop. So…… Photoshop just doesn’t seem to see these files as .CR/RAW files and doesn’t know to open them in Camera Raw, but Bridge does. Also Apple’s Preview sees them and they can be saved as tifs or jpgs, so that’s really weird.

    Not sure if I’ve updated Adobe Camera Raw recently or what (but then if I did, why would it open in Bridge and not CS3?), and why do the rest of the files from that project (all shot and imported at the same time from a job, and previously working just fine) seem to be fine?

    After 45 minutes of hold time for Apple tech, and running through all the export/import/open etc….. with the tech (even sent him the raw files and he was experiencing the same problem including crashing Bridge), we couldn’t pin point it to anything, other than there may be something wrong system wide with either Apple’s Raw Converter and Adobe’s, but who the hell knows or can tell at this point.

    Also I’m having trouble generating thumbnails, regardless of how many times I try. It shows there’s something going on with the activity monitor, but nothing gets generated. Other times, I select them and hit “generate thumbnails” and nothing happens along with nothing showing in the activity monitor. Something’s not right.

    I also can’t say I love the interface; a little pedestrian and not as elegant as previous. Hopefully what’s under the hood will out weight it’s looks (I’m sure we’ve all had partners like that as well; myself being one of them).

    All files are referenced and are on-line.

  7. Having updated 3 libraries using different techniques, I think I can write a book on how to do this correctly.

    Here is how to do it correctly.

    #1 – Open your aperture 2 library and do a consistency check.
    #2 – Delete aperture 2 previews (they just take up space and need to be regenerated anyway).
    #3 – If you are not using Referenced masters, now is the time to start (and is just one more reason in a long list of reasons to use referenced masters). Use File->Relocate Masters to move all your masters outside of the library. This step (combined with step 2) can make a library with 30k images only take up about 10GB.
    #4 – Copy your aperture 2 library file somewhere if you want a backup of it. Now that it is so small you can make multiple copies if you really want to.
    #5 – Launch aperture 3, Create a new blank library, open preferences and turn off faces and auto preview generation.
    #6 – Don’t “Upgrade” your version 2 library, instead create a new aperture 3 library, and use File->Import Library to import your aperture 2 library. This will LEAVE YOUR APERTURE 2 library in tact and just copy the contents of it in to aperture 3.
    #7 – Watch the activity, let it do its thing. Some gotchas: Once complete, I had really slow loading of a few albums, turns out I had to force aperture 3 to “regenerate thumbnails” for that album.
    #8 – Now that you are using referenced masters, you will need to back those up with time machine, since they do not get backed up in the vault. (for me this is good, because vault backups need to be fast).
    #9 – Create New Vaults (which will be fast since you are using referenced masters).
    #10 – When you are happy, delete your old vaults (after backing up your masters with time machine).

    • Stacy Conaway

      Thanks for the detailed suggestions, Matthew. I have always used Referenced Masters (just as a matter of preference, no real strategy behind it) and now I’m glad that I’ve done it this way.

  8. Saga update: I am now into day 4 of the upgrade from hell. Apparently, the only way to deal with large libraries is to open Aperture W/shift key to disable activity and then update projects one at a time……ie, reprocess masters, generate previews and generate thumbnails. This works, but poorly and very time consuming. The first three tech support guys in the pro-app department were very nice and earnestly trying to help find solutions, however, my last call (this morning), which was an hour wait!, the tech contradicted everything the other techs had me doing, and told me to start over and divide my library into multiple libraries. Ok, so now that I’m 3/4 done after 4 days of me babysitting my computer as it churns through
    the process they laid out – I’m told to start over – and get a mac pro.
    I could have backed up the Library of Congress by now. Good luck to all.

  9. I was finally able to mostly import my old Aperture library. I imported each album separately. Albums with jpeg photos created in my camera imported perfectly. This included almost all of the albums in the library.

    Only one album would not import. This album was different from the others in that it contained photo scans, a mix of jpeg and tiff files, from Mac and PC scanners, rather than jpeg files from my camera. These files weren’t huge. A typical tiff was 38MB with a resolution of about 3000 x 2000. There were about 100 of these files.

    These are the differences that I could find between the albums that would import properly and the ones that would not. Strange.

  10. Ed Palmer

    I upgraded 2 libraries from version 2 into 3 over the weekend. It took a REALLY long time, but i left it over night to rebuild thumbnails etc and it all seems to have worked without a hiccup! As for Aperture 3 itself, all the new features are definately welcome, but it has crashed twice since I made the swtich – usually when im asking it to do a few things at the same time! A little buggy, but no data loss. Hopefully 3.0.1 will be out shortly to address these teething problems

  11. Converted roughly 8,000 images from Aperture 2 to 3 with no problem. I used referenced images which may help with timing and any issues. Took only 2 hours to convert 8,000 images….took 3 to 4 to identify Faces, and I still have to manually choose way to many for that to be a great feature….ugh!

  12. I’ve had major problems. The upgrade seems to require there’s at least the size of your Aperture 2 library in available free space on your drive. My main library was over 550GB and stored on a Raid drive (two drives striped together to give one big, fast drive). Vault is on connected Drobo.
    After the upgrade process had started it failed, and the disc was no longer visible. Reboot and try again. Fail. Pull discs out and swap around. Big mistake – managed to corrupt start up disc (a different drive, the Mac Pro takes four).
    With a new drive installed and a fresh copy of 10.6.2, I reload Aperture and copy the old library to the new 1TB drive.
    Still the upgrade fails. Unpack old library and import projects in batches – this seems to be working but this process has taken days and days, and of course the machine has been unusable for anything else in this time.

    • I experienced the same issue. 500gb library. With bloody beach ball, stalled my MacBookpro. I tried for 20 hrs with no luck. It stops around the 90% mark then my system is so bad and slow I have to then hard reboot! Tried twice and no luck.
      What I am doing now is importing 2 or 3 (aperture 2 projects) at a time then after that I do the reprocess feature in aperture 3. no issues. Aperture 3 is awesome from initial tests. That is why I am willing put up with the “upgrade library headache”.

  13. this seems to be a memory allocation problem.

    check with activity monitor. choose system memory. note that swap used goes up and keeps going up. eventually the system stops responding, even though there is like 0% cpu being used.

    aperture allocates so much memory, that memory fills, spills out into virtual memory which is much slower. the virtual memory swap space keeps getting bigger and bigger. the system thrashes until it becomes responsive. ugh.

  14. So far Ap3 has been attempting to upgrade my Ap2 library since Thursday at 2:00pm. It is now Saturday at 11:30am and I now have a spinning beach ball with no ability to access the Mac Pro. My Ap2 library is about 245GB, not sure how many photos. Last night when I finally was able to see the desktop, it has 10,456 photos left to process and it was 92% complete. I looked at it about 5 minutes later and it was 10,445 to go. So, it looked like it was working last night, but so far this morning I cannot even unlock the screensaver–beach ball of infinity spinning on screen mocking me. :-( Not a happy Apple camper.

  15. I have gone down the path of no return. Major issues. Aperture 3 is installed and my entire library has been converted. My issue is coming with the detect faces feature it’s running and killing everything. We are talking hours for a library around 10k. I have actually edited a few photos before turning the feature on and everything seemed fine, when I turned it on all hell broke loose.

  16. My upgrade went OK. I had a Ap2 library of about 10K managed photos weighing in at 100GB. I think it took an hour or so. Initial impressions are that it is faster displaying adjusted photos, which had been a big bottleneck for me with Ap2.

  17. I’m not even considering upgrading Aperture 3 since as far as I’m concerned Apple and Steve Jobs have their heads in space and need to breath oxygen to get their grey matter working.

    I thought Apple had some foresight, but when it comes to pricing their just as bad as Micro$oft.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      You’re saying $99 every couple of years to stay current with Aperture is too much? I don’t get that at all. If you think that is too much you should be using iPhoto which is free. If you go into a pro camera shop with $99 you’ll come out with a lens cozy.

      And Microsoft has as much to do with it as Hitler, which is to say, nothing at all.

      • Couldn’t agree with you more. Even though we all know that buying Apple is CLEARLY more expensive than PC, the benefits are beyond significant. On the contrary this example is the opposite with Apple being much cheaper, if $159 for Aperture 3 or $99 for the upgrade is too expensive, the PC equivalent (Lightroom 3) Retails for almost $300.

  18. I had problems with Computer speed after the library convert. Problem was Aperture 3 was hosing my caches. I ran a utility to empty system cache and clear the log files. It runs fast again. Still need to repair the file though.

  19. Not sure if it makes a difference, but I use referenced masters thus even though my masters are 350gb my library is only 24.5 gb. Took a while, overnight in fact, but everything went smoothly except it decided to do face detection on 45,000 photos, not a good idea. Be sure to see preferences for no face detection and no previews before doing the upgrade.

  20. Had exactly this issue….. i ended up exporting projects and importing them into Ap3…. working so far…… 246GB library….. 13500 images. Interestingly AP3 seems to be smaller than AP2 in the get info window…. approx 190GB compared to 245GB…… same number of images…….

  21. Updating to Aperture 3 has ben nothing but problems for me! First upgrade attempt failed after 5 hours – second time completed after another 7 hours, however, Aperture 3 is so slow it’s unusable. Two hours with tech support said I just needed to be patient until all the images are re-processed, which they said may take days! My library is about 850GB. Theirs no turning back and I can only hope it all works after who knows how long – I’m not a happy Apple camper.

    • Tx Outsider

      Same issue here, bud. I’ve got about 630gigs of exposures. I installed it OK, kinda, it crashed while doing the “faces” thing as I left it overnight. Now, it’s slow as hell and I cant update my vault because it says I need another 400gigs but I only have a few gigs of new photos from the last update. Let me know what you find out!

    • I’ve had the same problem with my library, which is 88.5 gigs on my macbook pro and it is saying I don’t have enough room to enable Aperture to create the new upgraded library which is a pain.

      So a few files are going to have to be moved to a external drive to free some space.

      The trial was awesome though!

      Good luck peoples.

  22. Silver Fox

    I had no problem updating my Aperture 2 library to the fully-licensed version of Aperture 3. While my library is large (≈ 34 GB), I’m not a professional photographer, so it’s probably no where near as large as some others. It would be helpful to know the size of the libraries for those who are having problems updating their libraries to the new format.

    • Hi Silver Fox,
      34 GB are a good shooting day for a professional. My library is quite small and it is already 3 TB!
      That’s probably whay you did not have any problem with upgrading.
      I’m pretty scared to do that…