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consolidating files from multiple drives to a single drive in a format that makes sense

New Here ,
Jul 11, 2020

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I use Lightroom Classic

I have a single catalog of about 50,000 images

The images are spread out over about 8 different hard drives

The current file/folder structure is ridiculous as the result of moving files from computer to computer, drive to drive, when upgrading, working in different locations and a couple massive hard drive crashes where files were painstakingly stripped off and saved to other drives. Even though all my collections are now intact, through days of "Find Missing File" operations, the files themselves are in many cases, not located with the rest in their collection.

I have tons of duplicate files, and by duplicate, I mean sometimes over 10 instances of a single file.

I want to place all the files on an NAS server that is 30TB so it can handle them all. 

I don't want to just copy every single hard drive over to the NAS server because so much of it is duplicates or other non-lightroom related files.

I would like to have them in some sense of an organized folder system on that drive. It could be by collection or date, or even file name groupings. I need some sensible folder structure as there are obviously too many files for a single folder without subfolders. My camera also ran through its file numbering system so I even have several files with the same file name.

Please help me organize this mess of almost 30 years in the making.

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How to, Import and export, Problem or error, Sync

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consolidating files from multiple drives to a single drive in a format that makes sense

New Here ,
Jul 11, 2020

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I use Lightroom Classic

I have a single catalog of about 50,000 images

The images are spread out over about 8 different hard drives

The current file/folder structure is ridiculous as the result of moving files from computer to computer, drive to drive, when upgrading, working in different locations and a couple massive hard drive crashes where files were painstakingly stripped off and saved to other drives. Even though all my collections are now intact, through days of "Find Missing File" operations, the files themselves are in many cases, not located with the rest in their collection.

I have tons of duplicate files, and by duplicate, I mean sometimes over 10 instances of a single file.

I want to place all the files on an NAS server that is 30TB so it can handle them all. 

I don't want to just copy every single hard drive over to the NAS server because so much of it is duplicates or other non-lightroom related files.

I would like to have them in some sense of an organized folder system on that drive. It could be by collection or date, or even file name groupings. I need some sensible folder structure as there are obviously too many files for a single folder without subfolders. My camera also ran through its file numbering system so I even have several files with the same file name.

Please help me organize this mess of almost 30 years in the making.

TOPICS
How to, Import and export, Problem or error, Sync

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58

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Jul 11, 2020 0
New Here ,
Jul 11, 2020

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Are you offering room and board, and a reasonably nice inlaw unit to live in while helping you take care of this mess?  Wow. I have more than 20K images that havent touched a computer in almost 20 years, wondering if the CD roms they are on still work, when did I last see a CD drive anyhow?

 

I think your best option is to actually copy all the drives to the NAS. Label each drive externally with a sequential number, a separate folder with same name for the contents of each drive, then when done, put them all in a separate location as a backup.....  You will have a lot of broken stuff in LR, but hopefully you can figure out from the folders which new folder on the drive has that drive's contents, then relink.   Later when you figure out a final place for the content, make that move wihin LR.

 

As to how to setup the final structure, it really depends on how your mind works. Lots of advice says to date the start of the folder names, yyyy-mm-dd so everything sorts chronologically, people seem to like that way of browsing through their stuff.   For me, mostly doing geographically based drone photography and video, I think organizing by place  /photos/stock_photography/state/city/photoshoot-name-yyyy-mm-dd. works best for me. Sometimes I may be putting a county in between state and city, and sometimes neighborhoods are grouped under a nearby large city (/ut/salt-lake/south-jordan for example.)   I am keeping an entirely separate directory.  /photos/clients/client-name/shoot-name/. for each client.  

 

Good luck on your project. I need to do somewhat the same thing when I start gathering a couple of dozen years of photos from various locations... Saved facebook memes, vs. pictures I took on various devices, vs. pictures I downloaded, it will be a lot to go through. All of that, I might organize via a timeline and then geography and subject.  Not there yet, just getting caught up on sorting 1000 photos and videos for the last couple of months, and then spending a few days tagging the 2500 so far in the drone library, lots of videos to watch for subjects to keyword....

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Jul 11, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 12, 2020

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I concur to a degree with Garnet,-

"....copy all the drives to the NAS. Label each drive externally with a sequential number...."

But first have a read of this link-   MOVING PHOTOS- 2 Methods 

Garnet is suggesting Option 2, which if you keep the total folder heirarchy exactly the same on the NAS as it appears on each hard-drive, it will make it easier to re-link all the sub-folders. Having ONE 'Parent' folder that you can copy from a drive to the NAS, with sub-folders, is the ideal.

When you have all Folders re-linked on the NAS, only then should you start re-structuring folders and photos.

Some would suggest that even not be done, as Keywords, Collections, metadata, etc in the Catalog will still 'find' all your images on the NAS just as it did before on the separate drives, if you re-link correctly.

Do NOT do any Importing of files !

See this link that contains info in Step#4 about re-linking Folders-

MISSING FILES & FOLDERS (Lightroom Queen)

 

 

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 10.0, Photoshop 22.0, Lightroom 4.0, Windows-10. Nikon DSLR.

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Jul 12, 2020 1
Participant ,
Jul 12, 2020

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This represents quite an undertaking.

What I would do :

1) work under Lightroom and import each drive one after the other start with one drive. Sort out the images by date if you'd have the exif information.
2) on the target drive, create a structure of folders by year, month, day if needed
3) move the files within LR from the initial drive to the target drive organized by date.
4) remove the initial folder from your catalog but do not delete it yet.
5) At this stage you should have a catalog with only images organized by folders representing the year and month.
6) restart the process with the next drive.

Now I would run a detect duplicates program but only on a limited period of time to cope with similar image numbers you mentioned. You can delete the duplicates. Back in LR remove the duplicates.

Do not forget to frequently save your catalog of 30 000 photos. Hope this will work. A little bit tedious but I am sure it works. There may be more efficient ways.

Best Regards
Eric Pecquerie
Sent from my iPad Pro

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Jul 12, 2020 0
LEGEND ,
Jul 12, 2020

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"work under Lightroom and import each drive one after the other start with one drive. Sort out the images by date if you'd have the exif information."

Importing causes the information about collections (and probably a lot of other information) to be lost. The original post said the collections were intact.

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Jul 12, 2020 1
dj_paige LATEST
LEGEND ,
Jul 12, 2020

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Hello @too_old_for_this

 

I don't think there is a perfect solution to this, but I would like to comment on one thing.

 

"I would like to have them in some sense of an organized folder system on that drive."

 

I always recommend doing the organizing and searching within Lightroom using keywords and other metadata. Then, a disorganized folder system is not a problem because Lightroom does the hard work of remembering what folders your photos are in so that you don't have to remember. Since you already have your collections intact, then I would use those to search and locate your photos. If you could change your mental thought process to give up on the "organized folder system", you really don't lose anything (you can still find your photos via collection) but you will save yourself a lot of work. In case you decide to do things this way, the instructions in "Part 2 — Updating Folder Location" of this document explain how to move the photos from one location (hard disk) to another hard disk without losing your collections or metadata or edits.

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