Consolidating Drives

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Today’s Question: How can I consolidate the images in Lightroom from two smaller internal drives onto a new, larger hard drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The process here is relatively straightforward. First, make sure you have a reliable backup of all of the photos in your entire catalog, just to be safe. Then add a “photos” folder to the new larger hard drive, making that drive visible in Lightroom in the process. At this point you can select all of the folders from the smaller drives, one drive at a time, and drag-and-drop those folders to the new hard drive location.

More Detail: You can make the new larger hard drive visible in Lightroom simply by adding a folder to that drive. Make sure the new drive is connected to the computer, and then in Lightroom click the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Folders header on the left panel in the Library module and choose “Add Folder” from the popup menu. Navigate to the new hard drive, and click the “New Folder” button at the bottom-left of the dialog. Enter a meaningful name (such as “PHOTOS”) for this new folder, and then click Choose to create the new folder. This folder will serve as the “parent” folder for all of your other folders, and once you’ve added this folder in Lightroom the folder (and thus the new hard drive) will appear in the Folders list on the left panel.

Next, you can drag-and-drop folders from the smaller drives to the new drive. This can be accomplished by selecting multiple folders on a single drive to streamline the process. Simply click on the top-most folder on the first drive, then hold the Shift key and click on the bottom-most folder on the same drive. With all of the folders selected, you can then point your mouse to any of the selected folders and drag-and-drop to the new folder you created on the new drive. This process can be repeated for the other hard drive you want to transfer from. Note that Lightroom will ask for a confirmation that you want to move photos from one location to another.

Once you have copied all of the folders from the smaller internal hard drives to the new hard drive, it is a good idea to confirm there aren’t any photos that were missed. For example, you can browse the location where photos had been stored on your internal hard drives to make sure no photos remain. This might be the case if you had neglected to import some photos into your Lightroom catalog, for example. You can resolve that issue by importing the photos with the Move option, setting the destination to the new drive you’ve just transferred photos to.

It is worth keeping in mind that the process of moving photos from one hard drive to another can be a time-consuming process. If you have a particularly large Lightroom catalog, you might want to move folders in small batches, to ensure there aren’t any issues created if you need to cancel a large transfer before it is finished. But again, the overall process here is relatively simple.