Copy Safer Than Move?

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Today’s Question: Would it be safer to copy the photos to the new hard drive rather than move them, or does it make any difference?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, I do generally recommend using a copy-and-delete approach rather than using the move command when you want to move photos from one location to another. However, in the context of Lightroom it is better to move rather than copy photos, making sure of course that you have a good backup of all photos before you begin the process.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up from a prior question about moving photos from a nearly-full hard drive to a new hard drive, for photos that were being managed within Lightroom.

Under normal circumstances I would suggest copying photos from the source drive to the destination drive. After that copy operation is complete, you could theoretically delete the source files from the original drive. However, in general I instead recommend renaming the folder they are in to something that indicates it is a backup.

I would then update all of my backups before considering deleting the original files from the hard drive.

With Lightroom Classic things are slightly more complicated, because there really isn’t an easy way to copy the photos within Lightroom and then delete the originals. Furthermore, I don’t recommend performing this work outside of Lightroom, as it can create a variety of problems within your catalog and workflow.

Because of these various factors, when you actually want to move photos from one storage device to another within Lightroom, I recommend doing that work directly in Lightroom. Just be sure you have a full backup of all photos and other files on all hard drives you’ll be working with, just in case anything goes wrong.

So, if you are managing photos with Lightroom Classic and want to move photos, first update all of your backups. Then move the photos within Lightroom, make sure everything updates correctly, and then update your backups as well.