How do I archive my entire catalog and photos to a separate EHD?

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Active Member
May 21, 2015
Hillsborough, NC
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  1. Windows 10
I have reconstructed a catalog from bits and pieces of folders of archived photos following the loss of my Lr HDD. Fortunately, I've been able to recover practically all of my photos and associated metadata using a recent backup and relinking photos. A secondary problem that I'll handle as a lower priority is that I recovered my photos by copying entire folders to the new HDD. The process worked but I'll need to either a) forever carry photos in the folders that are not in my Lr catalog or b) search through and delete photos not being used. As mentioned - this is secondary to being sure that I have an external hard drive (EHD) that I'll keep to ensure that I won't need to again do the tedious reconstruct.

Now that I have a working catalog with no missing files I want to clone it to an EHD that I'll update from time-to-time and keep as insurance in case my main Lr HDD goes kaput again. I've found that my cloning is missing something so I'm asking for help here. What I've done is to:
  • Reconstruct the catalog and all photos to a virgin 2 TB EHD that I named "L:\Lightroom"
  • Copy the entire contents of "L:\Lightroom" to a folder named "Lightroom copy" in a second 5 TB EHD (the clone EHD)
  • Use "Disk Management" to change the clone drive letter of the clone to "L:\Lightroom" (to match the reconstructed EHD)
  • Now the .lrcat file and all other associated files are now exactly as on both the reconstructed EHD and its clone. The main difference is that the cloned files and photos are in a folder on the cloned drive.
However, when I disconnect my main Lr EHD and connect the 5 TB clone and click on the lrcat file in the folder named "Lightroom copy" all of the photos show up as missing even though they actually are on the clone. I tried elevating the total copied files to the root of the clone EHD but the photos are still not found.

What am I missing in the process that prevents my cloned lrcat from finding my photos?
I suggest that you consider an incremental backup application that runs periodically in the background. This will be the safest and most reliable to keep an accurate and up to date archive. For Mac users it is a no brainer to use the included Time Machine it has saved by butt more thane once.

I am not knowledgeable about the best applications for Windows but I'm sure that someone will make some suggestions.

Lightroom sees the direct path - including the drive assignment - so if they are in a folder on your clone drive and not on the main one, the path will be different for Lightroom. So, that path needs updating. Below may help:
Thanks Paul. Initially I was insulted by your referral to be sure that I was finding the correct path to make the transfer to the archive. However, upon developing some screen captures to prove that I was comparing apples to apples I found an orange. Part of the path from A -> B was indeed different. After making the paths identical I was able to make the clone that I want.

Thanks again.

Lightroom sees the direct path - including the drive assignment -
Yes but if the root folder of your photos and the LR catalog folder are in the same parent folder, you won't have to care about the full path (and therefore the drive letter)
For example, if you have the following hierarchy:
Folder1 > Catalog
> Photos
> Photos folder 1
> Photos folder 2
> etc

Once the catalog is opened, LR knows the path to folder1 and, as a consequence, the path to the photos folder since it's the same. No need to care about the drive letter. This is very usefull with EHD that moves between several computers.
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