Lightroom implications of changes to hard drives

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by david_henderson, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. david_henderson


    I use Lightroom 5 to carry out all importing and most editing on my Dell XPS 8300. So far, all my images are imported to a dedicated 1TB hard drive (and in parallel a backup is created on an external drive). That dedicated drive is now very nearly full and I need to decide how best to augment my available drive space.
    One obvious solution is to replace my current 1TB dedicated "pictures" drive with a larger drive. But there re other solutions too that involve putting the photographs I make from now on another drive, either internal or external. I have about 500GB of space on my current C drive; or according to some I could add a third internal HDD to my Dell, or I could use an external drive. The advantage of using a second drive for my future pictures is that I wouldn't need to transfer all my existing images onto an external drive temporarily and then transfer again to a new HDD. And of course Lightroom knows where to find all these images now.
    But could Lightroom use images from different hard drives in the same catalog? I suspect the answer is"yes" but I'm entering unknown territory for me and want to be sure. Naturally all new imports would be directed towards whatever HDD I choose to use for them.
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    But could Lightroom use images from different hard drives in the same catalog?​

    Yes, I've done it.
  3. Hi David,
    I can't address your actual question, but I would probably just replace the internal hard drive with a larger one to keep things simple. Large hard drives are pretty cheap these days and sticking with your current setup instead of a more complicated plan reduces the chances of some images not being backed up or lost in the shuffle somehow. You have all your internal images backed up on the external drive, so you could just pop a 2TB drive into the Dell, copy your images to it from the external, and off you go. Also buy two 2TB external drives for backup purposes. Keep one attached to the Dell and store the other at a friend's house and swap them every week or month. That way you're protected both in case your internal drive fails and also in case your house burns down.
    I just looked at the specs for your Dell and I was pretty impressed. No need to replace the entire machine yet, which was the first thing I considered. (My homebuilt computer is about 7 years old now and I can see it's time for a new one.) Anyway, while you're at it, consider replacing your C: drive with an SSD for much improved performance. That's a bit more complicated because you would have to reinstall all your software or create a disk image of some kind, but the rewards are substantial.
  4. Make sure the SSD C: drive is large enough for the future, if you go that route!
    I installed a 128GB SSD on my home built a few years ago and now I'm facing replacing it. I'm down to less than 20GB free space.
    I don't keep photos on that drive, just the operating system and whatever programs I have, which aren't too many other than LR5 and CS6.
    I should investigate using a clean-up program to see if I can recover some space.
  5. Multiple hard drives with Lightroom, as Jeff noted, is not a problem. I have an internal plus three external archives that are all cataloged in LR. I agree with all the suggestions of replacing your system drive with an SSD having done that myself -- get at least 250 GB; the prices have come down significantly in the past six months. To Dave's point about transferring data from HDD to SSD, most of the SSD retail packs come with software and some even include a cable, to make transfer very easy.
  6. If you move the files, be sure to do it within Lightroom so it "knows" where they are. Otherwise, it can get difficult to fix your catalog when image files are missing.
  7. I should investigate using a clean-up program to see if I can recover some space.​
    I've been using CCleaner for years and years. It's free and I've never had a problem with it, although it will erase all the cookies on your machine unless you select the ones you want to keep.
  8. If you move the files, be sure to do it within Lightroom so it "knows" where they are. Otherwise, it can get difficult to fix your catalog when image files are missing.​
    That's the thing about using LR that makes me uncomfortable, but then there is the "Synchronize Folder..." menu command that refreshes and updates what has changed.
    I just wonder if it could be applied to an entire directory of a "Picture" folder containing thousands of images nested in a subdirectory residing on another HD. Wonder how long it would take for a folder directory refresh that large.
    There's probably a more simple approach but since I don't use LR that much due to this uncomfortable way it sees images on a HD using a catalog, I haven't explored it further to find out.
  9. Thank you, Dave. I have used that before, although I had forgotten about it!
    Now, if I could only increase my memory!
  10. If you keep your entire photo collection of folders under one giant master folder, and then switch the whole shebang to a new drive, all you have to do is re-direct Lightroom(by right-clicking the newly appeared question mark next to the master folder) to find that one giant folder in it''s new location. Takes about 12 seconds.
  11. david_henderson


    Thanks to all. I'm not going to change to SSD on the C drive at the same time as making other, necessary changes. Maybe after, but in general I like to do these things one at a time.
    Keith B. I understand that it shouldn't take long to find the new location of the photographs from within LR, but the route you suggest has other time issues, like copying ITB worth of photographs onto an external drive before we remove the drive they're currently on, and then copying them back when the new, larger drive is installed. Some of the other routes avoid needing to do that if, as is suggested, the images comprising my LR imports can be spread across more than one drive and still form a single catalog.
  12. If you are feeling adventurous, you can:
    1) Change your current dedicated 1 TB drive from a simple volume to a Dynamic Disk
    2) Install another disk drive in your system and make it a Dynamic Disk
    3) Create a spanned volume form the two disks:
    As far as Lightroom, or any other application, is concerned the spanned disk is one disk. Of course there is more processing involved at the OS level.
    Be sure you have good backups before you start.

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