A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Digital Darkroom > Archiving > moving Lightroom catalog to...

Featured Equipment Deals

Ten Steps to Get Creative & Authentic Family Photographs Read More

Ten Steps to Get Creative & Authentic Family Photographs

Photographer Stacy Bostrom shares ten tips to make your family photography more creative by capturing the beautiful imperfection of life.

Latest Equipment Articles

Choosing a Mobile Photo Printer Read More

Choosing a Mobile Photo Printer

In today's mobile, digital world, we carry hundreds or even thousands of pictures around on our smartphones and tablets. Tom Persinger looks at 4 different mobile photo printer options for getting...

Latest Learning Articles

Advanced Printing with Lightroom (Video Tutorial) Read More

Advanced Printing with Lightroom (Video Tutorial)

Building upon last week's Basic Printing with Lightroom video tutorial, this advanced printing tutorial will teach you to print contact sheets, print multiple images at a time, use Lightroom's present...


moving Lightroom catalog to external HD

Tamandra Michaels , Feb 26, 2010; 04:00 a.m.

I think I messed up, and am trying to figure out how to rectify it before just blundering on. I recently drag-dropped my Lightroom images, the ones in the folder that's indexed by dates with subfolders, to my external HD. Then I deleted the folders on my laptop. However, I did not move the LRcat over. So when I open up LR now, (this is LR3 beta) the images show up, but says that file cannot be found. Even with the HD plugged in. I thought it would be like Aperture, and work with just the images over on another drive.
Hmmm. So, I did look at a few tutorials, and one said while LR is open, drop the catalog that way. Should I restore the images and start over? Or is it safe to drop the catalog that way. Or, should I drop it the same way, while LR is closed and just drag/drop on over.
I've also backed up on a different HD using Time Machine. Maybe I should plug that one in and use that to work on my images? I'm just not that familiar with Time Machine, yet. I just wanted to do it, just in case, and have yet another type of back up. Hopefully this won't be so confusing to me eventually!

Responses

Andrew Rodney , Feb 26, 2010; 09:39 a.m.

You have to have LR move folders or it doesn’t “know” you did it and you end up with a lot of ? over the images. It sounds like you manually moved them, you didn’t have LR move them. No big deal, you can resync everything (option click on the folders and select Locate Folders). You could have the database file on drive A and all images on drive B, no problem. As long as LR knows where the folders and images reside. Of course, best to keep everything on one dedicated drive. Makes cloning easier. SuperDuper on the Mac is awesome for this task.

Keith B , Feb 26, 2010; 12:54 p.m.

The other alternative, if your LR catalog isn't gigantic, is to simply re-import the images/folders from the new hdd to LR. That way LR knows where they are. Seems like it'd be best, and give the fastest LR operation, to keep the LR catalog on the internal hdd.

Jeff Spirer , Feb 26, 2010; 01:07 p.m.

So here's my question on a related topic.

My main image drive, a 1TB external, is just about full. I am going to move all the images onto a 2TB drive. I know how to point LR at an individual "missing folder," but don't know what to do when I have a huge catalog with lots of folders that I want to be able to access, using the existing catalog on my primary system drive (not the image drive.) If it makes any difference, Snow Leopard on Intel Mac. Is there an easy way to do this? A safer way to do this?

Andrew Rodney , Feb 26, 2010; 01:12 p.m.

Basically there are three files you need to pay attention to (in addition to your images):
1. IrCat file (the database)
2. Irdata file (the thumbnails)
3. Lightroom Settings. This may be with the catalog file (my preference) or depending on the OS, located in the applications support folder.

Lastly there are all the images. There are two ways to get from the smaller to the larger disk, assuming in one case, all the above files in on that smaller drive. One way is to clone smaller to larger drive using something like SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner (free. Both Mac products). OR you can do an Export Catalog to the larger drive (then Import Catalog).

Jeff Spirer , Feb 26, 2010; 02:59 p.m.

Does LR then recognize the right drive if all these files are moved? That's what's not clear to me.

Martin S. , Feb 26, 2010; 03:55 p.m.

"Does LR then recognize the right drive if all these files are moved? That's what's not clear to me."

In my experience LR has no problems recognising it, if you clone the entire contents from the old drive over to the new one and make sure to name the new one exactly the same as the old one.

Jeff Spirer , Feb 26, 2010; 06:21 p.m.

OK, that's not too bad, just that every main image drive from now on will have "1TB" in its name :-)

Alec Myers , Feb 26, 2010; 08:59 p.m.

You can rename drives, paths, folders etc, without disaster. I do it all the time. Lightroom is very very good at reconnecting moved files to the right catalog entry (although sometimes it needs prompting to the right folder for the first file). To be honest I don't bother re-locating all the files immediately after moving them, but only when I actually need to open or re-preview the file. The main thing is, don't panic, you won't lose any data or edits, or have to reimport.

Godfrey DiGiorgi , Feb 27, 2010; 12:02 p.m.

I answered a similar question on the Flickr.com "Adobe Lightroom" forum the other day. This is a cut and paste ...

---

> ... How do I move my image file repository to another volume? or split it up into a set of DVDs? My hard drive is getting too full. ...

Let's consider first how to move the entire file repository to an external hard drive.

- If your image files are structured as a single directory tree ...

eg:
Photos
Photos/2009
Photos/2009/01-Jan
Photos/2009/02-Jan
...
Photos/2010
Photos/2010/01-Jan
Photos/2010/02-Jan
...

or similar

... then the job is easy. So step one is to move things around from within Lightroom (using the Folder panel) until they are organized this way.

- Then, in the Folder panel, right/control-click on the topmost directory and choose Add Parent Directory. Then do it again, and again, until the entire directory tree is a nested listing all falling under the same top level directory ... in the example above, this would be "Photos".

- Now quit Lightroom. In the Mac OS X Finder or Windows Explorer, drag and drop that top level directory onto your external drive. That's a copy operation and if you have a lot of image files, it will take time to do its thing.

- Once the files are copied, start up Lightroom again. Now click on the top level tree inside the Folder panel and choose the "Update Folder Location..." command. Navigate using the dialog box to the new location, and click the OK or Choose button.

The Lightroom catalog is now looking at the new file repository location. You can safely delete the old image folder tree from the old location.

For a subset of this operation, pick and choose points within the image file directory tree to move to DVDs or an external hard drive, same as you did above for the whole tree, and do the same operation for that sub-tree as above.

eg: if you wanted to move the sub-tree of "Photos/2009" and all included subdirectories to an external drive, you'd pick the folder in the Finder or Windows Explorer and drag it to the new location, then run Lightroom again, right/control-click on "Photos/2009" in the folder panel, and choose the new location you put it.

---

From that you should see how it is you can reconnect the LR .lrcat file with the file repository it is referring to.

Back to top

Notify me of Responses