Removing a Drive


Today’s Question: I had a hard drive crash that was referenced in my Lightroom Catalog. I had backups of the files and have restored those files to other drives. However, the hard drive still shows up in the list of drives in Lightroom. How do I remove that drive from Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To remove a hard drive from the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module, you simply need to remove all folders (and therefore photos) from that drive within Lightroom. You can accomplish that by selecting all of the photos, right-clicking on one of the folders, and choosing “Remove” from the popup menu. Note that in this specific situation, all of the folders in question would appear as “missing” folders.

More Detail: I am assuming in this case that all of the photos represented as being on the failed hard drive are now represented on the new drive. In other words, it is important to make sure you’ve added back all of the photos from a backup copy before removing the reference to the original photos. I’ll have more to say on this in a moment.

If you’re certain that all of the photos represented on the failed hard drive (and thus showing as missing in your Lightroom catalog) have indeed been replaced with backup copies, you can remove all of the folders from the failed drive very easily.

Start by clicking on the first folder on the list of folders for that drive and then holding the Shift key on the keyboard while clicking on the last folder on the list. Then right-click on any one of the selected folders and choose “Remove” from the popup menu. Confirm your decision in the dialog that appears, and all of the selected folders will be removed. Once all folders and photos from that drive have been removed from the Lightroom catalog, the drive itself will disappear as well.

I should hasten to add that in a situation like this there is an easier way to recover your photos. The easiest approach is to simply replace your original photos drive with a backup drive. If you are using a synchronization approach to backing up your photos (which I highly recommend), this is particularly simple. You can disconnect the failed drive, then update the backup drive to look exactly like the failed drive. In other words, change the drive letter on Windows or the volume label on Macintosh to the same setting used by the original drive. Lightroom will then be able to find all of the photos just as though nothing had changed.

If your backup isn’t quite as organized as would be the case with a synchronization approach, there are still relatively straightforward ways to recover from a drive failure. For example, you could disconnect the original failed drive and connect the backup drive (or otherwise make the backup copies available) and use the “Find Missing Folder” option for the folders that show as missing from the original hard drive, restoring access to your backup photos as part of your existing Lightroom catalog organization.

And, of course, whenever a drive fails I recommend that your first order of business be to create another backup copy of your photos as quickly as possible. If, for example, you have only your master copy of your photos plus a single backup, a failed drive means you no longer have a backup.