Hard Drive Confusion

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Today’s Question: My pictures are on an external hard drive. On a recent trip I left this drive at home and took a new hard drive along. The new drive was assigned the same drive letter as the existing drive. I use Lightroom Classic CC and have one catalog. As Windows does not recognize two hard drives with the letter D, I changed one to E. Now there is a question mark on all pictures. How do I go from here?

Tim’s Quick Answer: All you need to do in order to resolve this issue is to reconnect the missing folders so Lightroom is looking for them in the right place. To do so, right-click on a folder that appear missing and choose the “Find Missing Folder” command. Then navigate to that folder on the applicable hard drive, and click the “Choose” button. The folder will then no longer appear as a missing folder, and will move to a separate heading for the new hard drive on the Folders list in the Library module.

More Detail: When you import photos into your Lightroom catalog, the source files are referenced based on the hard drive, folder location, and filename. If any of those three attributes are changed, the affected photos (and possibly folders) will appear as missing in Lightroom.

This question relates to the simplest correction, since only the drive letter (or volume label for Macintosh users) has changed. In some cases you would correct this by simply changing the drive letter (or volume label) back to what Lightroom is expecting. In this case, of course, the issue is that the same drive letter was assigned to two different drives.

Therefore, you will find that photos from both the D and E drives will appear in Lightroom as being on the D drive, because they were imported to a drive with the same drive letter assignment. Therefore, you simply need to reconnect the folders that are now on the E drive. So, here you would right-click on a missing folder, navigate to the E drive, select the folder with the same name as the one you right-clicked on, and click the Choose button. That folder will then no longer be missing, and the photos within the folder will also be reconnected. You can repeat this process as needed for any other missing folders.