Today’s Question: My Lightroom Classic image files (about 63,000 of them) and are located on a 3TB external hard drive that is almost six years old. I would like to move them to a new 6TB drive. It would be easy to drag and drop the images from one drive to the other. I know, however, that it is better if I move the images within Lightroom Classic. What is the best way to do this?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You could actually work either inside Lightroom Classic for this hard drive upgrade, or by using hard drive synchronization software outside Lightroom Classic as long as you’re careful about the workflow.
More Detail: If you work within Lightroom Classic, you would be moving photos from one hard drive to another. That means it is especially important to make sure you have a complete backup of your photos before you get started.
After creating that backup, you could then connect the new larger hard drive to the computer. Within Lightroom Classic you can then click the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module. From the popup that appears, choose Add Folder. Then navigate to the new hard drive and click the New Folder button. Type a name (such as “Photos”) for that new folder and click Choose.
The new empty folder will then appear on the Folders list under a heading for the new hard drive. You can then select folders from the “old” drive and drag-and-drop them to the “new” drive. I recommend working with a handful of folders at a time for this process, because if something goes wrong along the way it can be a little challenging to clean up the files that are left behind.
Another option is to use hard drive synchronization software for the task of copying photos from the “old” drive to the “new” drive. This approach can be easier, because the synchronization software will take care of all of the work involved in transferring all of the folders and photos to the new drive.
I use a software application called GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) for my synchronization-based backups. The same software can be used to duplicate folders and photos for a hard drive “upgrade”. Be sure to select the “old” hard drive as the source of the one-way synchronization when creating the backup job, and the “new” hard drive as the destination. You want to be sure the folder structure is created on the new drive exactly as it appears on the old drive. For example, you do not want to copy the folders from the old drive into an “extra” top-level folder on the new drive.
After the synchronization backup is complete, the new hard drive will represent a perfect match of the old drive, except for the “name” of the drive. To resolve this, disconnect the old drive, and then change the drive letter (Windows) or the Volume Label (Macintosh) for the new drive to exactly match the old drive.
At this point you can launch Lightroom Classic, and all of your photos will be available as usual, just on a new hard drive. That is because the path (drive “name” and folder structure) for all of your photos will be a perfect match to what they were before upgrading to a larger hard drive.