P: Working with multiple external drives (PC, WIn10)

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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I'm trying to adapt my workflow to use Lightroom Classic (on PC/Windows 10) and am facing an issue I suspect others have already solved. As a commercial photographer I've been shooting digital for more than 25 years and have established a file management/backup system that works for me. Client's images are stored on dual (identical) external drives and a 3d copy of the images is stored safely offsite. Major clients get their own pair of drives because of the amount of data their work represents. All files are stored in folders named according to "YYYY-MM-DD_jobDescription".

 

When I disconnect a drive Lightroom wants to reconnect the same drive to work on the imported images but provides me with only a drive letter and not a drive name which is how I identify the various clients external drives. Is that correct? Is there a preference I'm missing?

 

If this is normal behaviour then I need a workaround solution before importing the mages. One option would be to create a folder on each drive and name it the same as the drive name and letter (eg. "JoeSmithAgency_E") and then move all the drive's folders into that folder before importing images into Lightroom. Lightroom would then display that folder as the highest Parent and I could then know which drive needs to be connected to access those images.

 

Does this seem like a sensible solution or is there another method that's more commonly used?

 

Thanks for any advice 🙂

 

Russell

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Note that I am very capable of changing/assigning drive letters to a drive.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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It's working on my WIndows 10 system using LrC 11.1. The S: drive in the below screenshot has been removed, but stll shows the drive letter and name. How did you name the drives?

 

ToddShaner_0-1642548097390.png

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Thank you Todd 🙂

 

I use numerous 4 and 8TB SATA drives in a hot-swappable mobile HD rack and the drive I tested with is named "Personal-1". After removing it the only thing listed in Folders was "H",  which was the drive letter assigned to that drive.

 

I wondered if drive name retention only worked with USB drives, so I attached a USB drive with some photos and imported them. That drive did retain its name (and letter) when removed and the original "Personal-1" SATA drive suddenly displayed its full name and letter (hmm, ...interesting). But as soon as I closed and re-opened LR everything was back to displaying drive letters only.

 

To make matters worse, when I swapped out the "Personal-1" drive for one named "Clients-1" it took the same latter "H" that was free'd up when the first drive was removed, and LR then proceeded to mix the imported folders of images into the same "Personal-1" SATA drive folder structure. It did not recognize that it's not the same removable storage.

 

Is there a preference or option somewhere that I'm missing ... ?

 

I'm back to thinking that creating drive root folders named as per the drive name and letter might be a solution.

 

R

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Creating a root level folder on each external SATA drive drive named per the drive name and letter is working for what I need. I then move the drive contents to that one folder before importing images. When I load LR the top-most Parent folder's name  displays the info I need to connect the appropriate drive and the drive letter it needs to be if it's not correct by default.

 

R

 

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Seems that the issue is rooted in the fact that Mac uses (UNIX) volume names while Windows uses drive letters to identify the drive and LR pays more attention to that than the valume label that's associated with it.

 

R

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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"I wondered if drive name retention only worked with USB drives, so I attached a USB drive with some photos and imported them. That drive did retain its name (and letter) when removed and the original "Personal-1" SATA drive suddenly displayed its full name and letter (hmm, ...interesting). But as soon as I closed and re-opened LR everything was back to displaying drive letters only."

 

I tried this on my Windows 10 system and after the LrC was closed and reopened the name (MyBook 2TB Win 10 Backup) and drive letter (S:) are both visible as in my original screenshot. What may be happening is that you are plugging in a device that is taking the drive letter H: assigned to your client drive. To prevent this from happening assign drive letters near the end of the alphabet perhaps starting with M:. How many external USB drives and/or other devices are you using? 

 

 

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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I think that's because you're using only one external drive with that one LR catalog. I'm going to try making one catalog for each of my external client drives, which are already organized that way, and see how LR behaves. Considering the volume of images I'm importing it might be preferable to have a LR catalog for each and LR might be happier too. Just trying to start with something that will work going forward (A stitch in time ..).

R 🙂

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Explorer ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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What may be happening is that you are plugging in a device that is taking the drive letter H: assigned to your client drive. To prevent this from happening assign drive letters near the end of the alphabet perhaps starting with M:. How many external USB drives and/or other devices are you using?

 

Yes, that might be causing it as well. I'm just not keen on creating individual drive letters for all my external drives to only make LrC happy. I think the one LR catalog for each client drive will work fine and I'll only have to note what drive letter it was using so I'll be sure that's what it is before opening the catalogue.  Thanks for your help and input 🙂

 

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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"Yes, that might be causing it as well. I'm just not keen on creating individual drive letters for all my external drives to only make LrC happy."

 

On a Windows system that's the only way you can assign a name to a drive. If you start with M: that gives you 14 unique drives and the ability to plug in up to 9 non-named external drives without interfering with the named drives. That's why I asked, "How many external USB drives and/or other devices are you using?"

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Explorer ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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I have about 9-10 main drives divided by personal, teaching, main clients (one drive for each) and a drive with misc. small clients. Many of them can stay with the same drive letter and their own catalog, but if I combine multiple drive in the same catalog I'll be sure to assign unique drive letters. I haven't gone down the rabbit hole too far yet so I might still change my mind do as you're suggesting to create one master catalog. Tnx 🙂

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Explorer ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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On a Windows system that's the only way you can assign a name to a drive. If you start with M: that gives you 14 unique drive

 

I was curious so I did a test with 3 "client" drives. I created a new catalogue and then imported one job from Drive1 (H:), closed LrC, loaded Drive2 (I:) and imported a job from there, closed LrC, loaded Drive3 (J:) and imported a job from there. The result is that the drive name only appears when one of the three drives is running and only for that drive. Closing LrC and changing to another of the three drives results in the same behaviour. The drive volume label only appears after it's attached and running. I could simply write H, I, J, K L, M, ... on the drives next to their labels if that's what's needed.  I was hoping that by having 3 drives with 3 distinct drive letters LrC would display their volume labels and letter when they were absent. Apparently it does not .. at least not for SATA connected drives.

R

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 20, 2022 Jan 20, 2022

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I can confirm the behavior you are seeing when the external drives are disconnected. It's apparently by design with the LrC catalog only recording the assigned drive letter and not the drive name. I'm going to change this post to an Idea requesting that the LrC catalog file on Windows systems also record the drive name. I believe that is how it currently works on Mac systems, but don't have one to test.

 

Drive Name Missing.jpg

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Explorer ,
Jan 21, 2022 Jan 21, 2022

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Thank you for confirming that Todd. I'm sure it's because of the way Windows manages hard disks (vie drive letters) vs Mac UNIX which uses volume names. Perhaps Adobe could find a way for users to assign an Alias to the drive entry.?

All's good now that I know it's "normal" and I've just added stickers with letters on my external drives as well as create a document with a list of what's what. I'm glad that I have a very organized file and naming system as my file naming indicates where it's stored. Good file management/naming habits really pay off as years go by.

After searching online I see this topic repeated quite often. It would be great if Adobe could come up with some clever solution/workaround that would resolve the issue.

Cheers 🙂 - Russell

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Explorer ,
Jan 21, 2022 Jan 21, 2022

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BTW ... here's the Adobe Help page that describes how to change (assign) static drive letters to removable storage drives:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/kb/lightroom-loses-photo-location-after-drive-letter-chang...

 

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 21, 2022 Jan 21, 2022

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 22, 2022 Jan 22, 2022

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Adobe could add recording of both the drive letter and assigned name in the LrC catalog database. That shouldn't be difficult and would reolve the issue on Windows systems. I'm sure you're not the only one who has encountered this issue.  I'll bring it up at our meeting next Tuesday and along with the enability to reply after moving your post from Discussions to Ideas.

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Explorer ,
Jan 22, 2022 Jan 22, 2022

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(I do wonder why this thread was moved to "Ideas" when it's really a discussion about a problem, whatever...)

 

I think the problem is more complex than you think as drives on a PC are not required to have a Volume Label (it can even be left blank) as the system connects to storage media by ONLY referencing its letter (a-z). On the Mac the drives MUST have a Volume Name which is created when the drive is formatted and it will not change unless the drive is reformatted. So there's no need for a solution on a Mac as it reveals its volume name by default. Any solution from Adobe would have to be a "Windows only" feature and whatever method is used could easily be broken if the drive letter changes.

As another layer of protection I'll probably add something to the file metadata (perhaps a keyword) that will apply to all images imported from the same drive.

As external drives continue to grow larger and prices drops (once the supply chain issues are over...) then I might end up with only one massive drive (+ a duplicate mirrored) so only one drive would be connected to LR when accessing originals. Cloud storage is also becoming cheaper, safer and faster, though not safe or fast enough yet for me. So connecting external drives might soon go the way of the Floppy disk.

Russell

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 22, 2022 Jan 22, 2022

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I'm well aware of everything you mention. LrC Folders panel is contained entirely in the catalog file with no direct connection to Windows File Explorer. Moving, renaming, or deleteing files, folders, or drives from outside of LrC will cause LrC to lose it's connection to those assets. For those like your self who choose to add a drive name using Window's Disk Management it shouldn't be that difficult for Adobe to add that information to the LrC catalog database. This of course is a Windows only "Idea" and it can be implemented that way as the issue does not exist for Mas systems. That is what you requested in your original post and I agree it is a shortcoming that Adobe could address. That's the reason I moved this post to the Ideas group.

 

"When I disconnect a drive Lightroom wants to reconnect the same drive to work on the imported images but provides me with only a drive letter and not a drive name which is how I identify the various clients external drives. Is that correct? Is there a preference I'm missing?"

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LEGEND ,
Jan 24, 2022 Jan 24, 2022

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[This post contains formatting and embedded images that don't appear in email. View the post in your Web browser.]


Another option is to create "mount points" for each drive.  For example, suppose you have drives CLIENT1 and CLIENT2.  You could create mount points C:\CLIENT1 and C:\CLIENT2 for those drives, and refer to their contents using those paths, not the drive letters.  It would look like this in LR:

johnrellis_0-1643061173763.png

 

You can freely connect and disconnect the drives, and Windows remembers the mount point for each drive.  

 

You'd continue to also have drive letters assigned to the drives, so they're easy to find and eject in File Explorer.

 

Once you've created the mount point for an existing drive, you can tell LR to use that mount point rather than the drive letter for photos already in the catalog.  In the Folders panel, right-click one of the top-level folders for that drive letter and do Show Parent Folder. Keep doing that until you reach the top (which should be a folder with a drive letter for its name).  Right-click that top folder, do Update Folder Location, and select the new mount point for that drive.

 

You create mount points using the Computer Management app:

johnrellis_1-1643061621653.png

 

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 24, 2022 Jan 24, 2022

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Thank you very much for that, John! I won't have time to test it out before Wednesday but it looks like a great (perfect?) solution. - Russell

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 26, 2022 Jan 26, 2022

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An interesting solution .. but it's not great (from what I'm seeing). As the drive location is mapped to an alias/shortcut in C:\CLIENT1 then, when the drive is removed, LrC displays them in a subfolder of DriveC which is always connected (or whatever non-removable drive/letter was used to hold the alias). At first glance it's not evident that it's a whole hard disk that's not connected vs simply missing files that have been moved to a new location

 

I'm going to stick with what I'm doing now which is simply creating a reference document on my desktop explaining which drive is which and I'm also using the disk letter as a keyword that I apply during import (ie: DiskJ, DiskK, DiskL, DiskM, DiskM, DiskO, DiskP, etc ...). That way I immediately know that there's a drive not connected, what the letter is, and filter using that keyword when I need to access the a mixed bag of files in a collection. As storage gets larger and cheaper I hope to consolidate some of these drives. But for now it's working fine.

R

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LEGEND ,
Jan 26, 2022 Jan 26, 2022

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"As the drive location is mapped to an alias/shortcut in C:\CLIENT1 then, when the drive is removed, LrC displays them in a subfolder of DriveC which is always connected (or whatever non-removable drive/letter was used to hold the alias). At first glance it's not evident that it's a whole hard disk that's not connected vs simply missing files that have been moved to a new location"

 

Right, you have to expand the mount-point folder to see the missing folders underneath:

johnrellis_0-1643232256442.png

 

LR isn't aware of mount points (though it should be).

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Explorer ,
Jan 26, 2022 Jan 26, 2022

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I think I prefer a small green drive light "on" for each drive that's correcty mounted, even if it only displays the drive letter.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 27, 2022 Jan 27, 2022

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All of my removable drives have a physical label placed on the drive with the drive letter and assigned name for quick identification when reconnecting it.

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Explorer ,
Jan 27, 2022 Jan 27, 2022

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My drives have always had printed labels, but now I'll just add a drive letter to the label as well. It's all pretty easy to manage one you know the rules of the game.

🙂

 

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