Recovering from a Backup Drive


Today’s Question: My “L” hard drive failed, but I had backed it up to another drive named “K”. Can I just rename the “K” drive letter to “L” and go on with life (and then back up the K drive to an extra disk?). I ask because I got a warning message that says, “some drive programs that rely on letters may not run correctly, do you wish to continue…”.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, provided the backup drive represents an exact match of the original drive at least in terms of photo storage, you can indeed just change the drive letter (or volume label for Macintosh users) and continue using the backup drive in place of the original (making a new backup as soon as possible of course).

More Detail: This type of scenario is exactly why I prefer a synchronization approach to backing up my photos and other important data. When you’ve created a backup drive that matches the source drive, it is very easy to recover from that failure.

With a synchronization approach to backup, the file and folder structure on the backup drive will be an exact match of the source drive. So, if the source drive fails, you can simply use the backup drive in its place.

In the context of Lightroom Classic, however, you’ll need to make sure that the drive itself appears as an exact match. That means for Windows users the drive letter must be updated for the backup drive to match the original drive. For Macintosh users that means changing the volume label (by renaming the drive) so that it matches the original.

The warning about a mismatch effectively describes why the backup drive wouldn’t work without this update. If you changed the drive letter or volume label of your original hard drive, Lightroom Classic would no longer be able to find the photos where they were expected. In this case it is sort of the opposite. The backup drive already represents a mismatch, so you need to change the drive letter or volume label to correct the mismatch.

Once you correct that mismatch, everything will appear normally within Lightroom Classic. Of course, you should also make sure to create another backup of your photos as quickly as possible after a hard drive failure.

I happen to use software called GoodSync to back up my photos with a synchronization approach. This provides exactly the benefits described above. You can learn more about GoodSync software here: