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Restoring a pre-Aperture 3.3 Vault into Aperture 3.3

PhotoJoseph's picture
June 18, 2012 - 2:00am

A great question came up on the site where reader Dave T. asks “Are earlier vaults consumable by Aperture 3.3 if one has to restore?”. The answer was certainly “I should hope so!” but I ran a little test anyway.

Short answer is, it works. However there is a scary dialog that pops up that I think could be better written.

The Vault restore process

For my test, I created a new library in Aperture 3.2.4, added a few photos to it, and created a Vault. Then I copied the Vault to my system with Aperture 3.3, created a new Library there, and restored from the 3.2.4 Vault. At the end of the process, I got this scary dialog:

A poorly written and scary “unable to restore” message… but it’s OK, really!

Unable to Restore” made my heart skip a beat, for sure. However reading the fine print, it says “Relaunch is required for the library restore to take effect”. I hit OK, and expected Aperture to automatically relaunch, which it did not. So I manually quit, then launched Aperture again, and got this dialog:

Ah, so the restored library just needs to be updated

On clicking Upgrade, the Library upgraded to 3.3 and all was right in the world.

Here’s what’s happening

When you recover from an old Vault, Aperture restores the Library back to its previous state — which in this case was an Aperture 3.2.4 library. However Aperture 3.3 can’t read that library, so you get the “unable to restore” message. I think that’s a very poorly written dialog, as it should say something like “Your restore process is nearly complete. Quit and relaunch Aperture to update your recovered library”.

This test was of course very small and limited, but it worked.

Create a new vault anyway

My upgrade advice still stands though. Before upgrading to Aperture 3.3, update your current vaults, backup our system, then upgrade the software and update your Library to 3.3 Then create a whole new vault, using Aperture 3.3, and when that’s completed, you can trash the old pre-3.3 vault. Or keep it just to be extra safe. But don’t update your 3.2 vault with 3.3 software.

This is sage advice for ANY major upgrade in Aperture (which this is), not just this 3.3 change.

Apple Aperture

A few days ago i tried to create a new vault from my library (26000+ photos) in Aperture 3.3.
It ran for some hours and then Aperture crashed. When i tried to update the vault after relaunching the app, it crashed again. After all, i couldn’t make Aperture to finish the new vault (it was crashing every time).
Then i’ve erased the new vault and tried again - and failed again (with the same symptoms).
However, creating a vault from a very small library (500+) has succeded.


Have you tried repairing or even rebuilding the library database? Check the FAQ if you’re not familiar with how to do that.

I’ve been hearing reports on Vault creation issue though, so you’re not alone.

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

Yes, i’ve repaired my library, but it didn’t help.
I dunno if rebuilding would help, because the last time I’ve used that option - it made a mess of my library…


Then back it up (duplicate it) before proceeding.

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

I also recommend logging a problem with Apple. Make sure you have repeatable steps you can provide to Apple, and make sure you include version numbers for every component (libraries, aperture software, os x).

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