Today’s Question: For matters of swapping out one drive for another [with Lightroom Classic] I have in the past cloned the old drive to the new one then duplicated the old drive name to the new, then after all is checked out re-format re-name the old drive. So, is slowly copping small batches from old to new better?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You can absolutely clone a hard drive and ensure it has the same volume label (Macintosh) or drive letter (Windows) to migrate to a new hard drive for Lightroom Classic. The only reason I don’t generally recommend this approach is that it can lead to confusion and possible errors for users who are not familiar with these options.
More Detail: If you want (or need) to upgrade to a larger hard drive, the key is making sure Lightroom Classic doesn’t lose track of your photos in the process. That requires that the overall folder structure on the new drive matches that on the old drive, and that the hard drive has the same volume label (Macintosh) or drive letter (Windows). In other words, you want to be sure Lightroom Classic can’t tell the difference between the old drive and the new drive.
If you use special software (or even a manual copy operation) to duplicate all folders and photos from the original drive to the new drive with the exact same folder structure, that covers the first requirement. You can then disconnect the old drive and adjust the volume label (Macintosh) or drive letter (Windows) for the new drive to match that of the old drive. Note that you can’t have both drives connected at the same time when performing this step.
Once you have completed the process of preparing the new drive so it is a perfect match compared to the old drive, you can launch Lightroom Classic and continue working normally.
However, as noted above, I really only recommend taking this approach if you’re familiar with the process of cloning one hard drive to another and are comfortable changing the volume label or drive letter for the new hard drive. If you’re not comfortable with this process, I recommend working from directly within Lightroom Classic to help ensure you don’t create any problems within your Lightroom catalog as part of this process.