Today’s Question: You’ve written about using a synchronization approach to backing up your photos, but what exactly is involved in recovering from such a backup when a hard drive fails?
Tim’s Quick Answer: With a backup created via synchronization, such as with the GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) software I use and recommend, recovery can literally be as simple as using a backup drive in place of the failed original.
More Detail: Today’s question is topical for me, as I just had another hard drive fail last week. While the hard drive that failed was my primary drive for my most important data other than my photos, the hard drive failure didn’t cause me any concern at all. The only real consequence was that I needed to buy a new hard drive so I would still have two backups in addition to the primary drive.
Because I use GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) to back up my external hard drives, each backup represents an exact match of the original data, with all files and folders in the exact same structure as on the primary drive. Therefore, when a hard drive fails, all I need to do is connect a backup drive and start using it as the primary.
If the failed drive is being used to store photos that are managed by Lightroom Classic, there is one additional step required so that the hard drive will match what Lightroom Classic is expecting. For Macintosh users that simply means changing the volume label for the hard drive to match that of the original, which can be done by simply right-clicking on the drive and choosing Rename. For Windows users you’ll need to assign the same drive letter to the new drive as had been assigned to the original drive, which can be done with Disk Management utility.
While the recovery from a backup created with software such as GoodSync is remarkably easy, it is important that you make sure to replace the failed hard drive with a new backup. I always maintain at least two backup copies of each hard drive and rotate between the backups. When a drive fails, I still have a backup, but then I buy another hard drive so I will again have two backups along with the original.