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Hard disk upgrade using operating system file copy and switching drive letters

Community Beginner ,
Feb 28, 2024 Feb 28, 2024

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I recently purchased a new external hard disk to replace my existing external hard disk.  After copying all of my pictures and videos using the Windows "robocopy" command to preserve the folder structure and file attributes, I renamed the  hard disk drive letters so that the old hard disk has a new drive letter (H:) and the new hard disk has the same drive letter as the old hard disk (E:). 

 

I then launched PSE 2022 but it is still connecting to the old hard disk even though it has a new drive letter (H:).  I was expecting that PSE 2022 would connect with the new hard disk since it is now using the original drive letter of the old hard disk (E:).  

 

What do I need to make this hard disk upgrade process work?

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Community Expert , Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

Hi @jackr71654829 

 

The problem with drives letters (as you know) is that they can be changed by Windows if the device you plug in is automatically renamed to a free letter when the disk letter is currently occupied.

When Elements and the organizer were introduced about twenty years ago, everybody mainly used CDs as external / removable drives. The catalog had to keep track of the real internal Windows identification which is an internal serial number. You can find it from the DOS prompt Vol X.

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Community Expert , Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

Hi Jack,

I have no personal experience with a NAS, so I'll judge from a number of discussions on this forum. On one hand, many users had a good experience and on the other, Adobe does not recommend using a NAS, especially for catalog folders. The quoted reason is mainly because of performance issues, which may not be fully true today.

Additionally, I can give a link to the old faqs from John R Ellis.

https://johnrellis.com/psedbtool/photoshop-elements-faq.htm#_Storing_the_catalog

 

There has bee

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Contributor , Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

A lot going on here...

First, as to Organizer finding files in a different device, same drive letter, as originally cataloged, as @MichelBParis mentions, the Catalog stores the Windows VolumeID, among other things. So, yeah, though they also store drive letter, they probably first go by volid and, since the volid is still present, even if different drive letter, that may cause bad Organizer voojoo. The easy fix is to Find missing files and relocate them for Organizer. (I'd do it that way before m

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Community Expert ,
Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

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Hi @jackr71654829 

 

The problem with drives letters (as you know) is that they can be changed by Windows if the device you plug in is automatically renamed to a free letter when the disk letter is currently occupied.

When Elements and the organizer were introduced about twenty years ago, everybody mainly used CDs as external / removable drives. The catalog had to keep track of the real internal Windows identification which is an internal serial number. You can find it from the DOS prompt Vol X.

 

The database (catalog.pseXXdb) has a special table to identify the disk, it's the volume table in the sqlite database. Each managed file is identified by three data: serial number (primary), then drive letter and disk

name. That's while you can't fool the organizer to think the new drive is the old one.

 

So, from the start, Adobe offered another migration tool to another computer, disk / partition or even new master folder: Creating a full backup on an external drive and then a restore to the new location.

 

About workarounds: after duplicating the files folder tree, what I do is to duplicate the catalog folder and I update the volume table with the old internal serial number. Fast if you duplicate before the files folder tree externally. Not for everybody, you need to use an sqlite management tool and beware of several traps in the process.

 

Another workaround without sqlite could be to find the old serial number and assign it to the new drive with a Windows DOS command.

I'll come back when I find it again...

 

Here it is, see this doc by expert John R Ellis:

https://johnrellis.com/psedbtool/

section

Change a Drive’s Volume Serial Number

PSE uses the volume serial number as the primary mechanism for identifying drives, and only if it can’t find a drive with the desired number will it use drive letters.  If you have two drives with the same number, or if try to assign a new drive letter to a drive that used to be a C drive, it may be necessary to change the volume serial number of a drive.   Here’s how to do that:

  1.       Download the “volumeid.exe” utility from Microsoft and place it in c:\windows\system32.
  2.       Start a command prompt.  In Vista, run the command prompt as administrator by doing Start > All Programs > Accessories, right-clicking Command Prompt, and selecting Run As Administrator.  On XP, run the command prompt from an account that is a member of Administrators (note that this won’t work on Vista). 
  3.       Type the following command:

volumeid letter: xxxx-xxxx

where letter is the drive you want to change, and xxxx-xxxx is the new serial number. You can pick any serial number that’s not used by any of your drives.

 

In the mean time, think about the backup and restore solution.

 

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

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Hi Michel,

 

Thank you for the detailed explanation to my issue.  This makes perfect sense to me now.  Although I am comfortable with the workaround you provided, I think I will go with the backup and restore method as it is probably the safest method.  I have been using PSE since the very early days and I have spent a significant amount of time building my catalog (i.e. applying tags to photos and videos) so I don't want to take any chances.

 

Thank you again for the detailed explanation.

 

Jack

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

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Hi Michel,

 

How does this apply if I were to use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device to store my photos.  I was thinking of setting up a file share and mapping a drive letter to the shared folder.

 

Thanks,

Jack

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Community Expert ,
Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

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Hi Jack,

I have no personal experience with a NAS, so I'll judge from a number of discussions on this forum. On one hand, many users had a good experience and on the other, Adobe does not recommend using a NAS, especially for catalog folders. The quoted reason is mainly because of performance issues, which may not be fully true today.

Additionally, I can give a link to the old faqs from John R Ellis.

https://johnrellis.com/psedbtool/photoshop-elements-faq.htm#_Storing_the_catalog

 

There has been a recent discussion from an advanced user which you can try to join:

 

https://community.adobe.com/t5/photoshop-elements-discussions/organizer-chaos-with-case-insensitive-...

 

I believe you should be successful with a NAS. My guess is that Adobe does not want to help with the high number of issues not in their field.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

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Hi Michel,

 

Thank you very much for your prompt reply.  I will have a look at these links to detemine if I want to proceed with migrating my photos and catalog to a NAS.  If not, perhaps I will use the NAS simply to store my backups.  This way if anything happens to my PC, the backups are safe on a separate device.

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Contributor ,
Feb 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024

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A lot going on here...

First, as to Organizer finding files in a different device, same drive letter, as originally cataloged, as @MichelBParis mentions, the Catalog stores the Windows VolumeID, among other things. So, yeah, though they also store drive letter, they probably first go by volid and, since the volid is still present, even if different drive letter, that may cause bad Organizer voojoo. The easy fix is to Find missing files and relocate them for Organizer. (I'd do it that way before messing with the volid in Windows. If I go solve it in PSEO, I know I'm only affecting PSEO. If I muck with Windows, who knows what all else might care?)

 

Here's an example of what's stored in the catalog for volumes in PSE2024. Note the serial column and drive_path_if_builtin. This hasn't changed much in many Organizer versions so I suspect 2022 look very similar:

DickW_0-1709239461154.png

 

On to the issue of using NAS with PSE Organizer. a) you can do it. b) Adobe enables, if barely supports, doing it. c) you can use NAS for storing media. d) you can also use NAS for storing the catalog itself. Here are the issues and my experience:

 

First and foremost, the Organizer has this stupid habit of thinking network volumes, despite being accessed via case-insensitive SMB protocol, are case sensitive. So it thinks, for instance, and as shown in sample above, that //Homeserv/photos, //Homeserv/Photos, //HOMESERV/Photos, and //homeserv/photos are each unique and separate network volumes. (Narrator: They are not.) Depending, near as I can guess, on how whatever was the first app/process to use the network volume in this Windows user session got to that exact same volume, anything added to PSEO will have that case-specific volume stored. This would only be mildly annoying if the PSEO Folder "View as tree" view showed each volume as separate tree roots. It does not. It only shows the first one stored. But that's not how it navigates the tree, so it has no way to display media it associates with the other volume tree roots except "View as list"--which will now show the same end folder four times, each with its own subset of the images from that folder in the catalog. it's maddening and it's been this way for many versions and Adobe couldn't care less. I can't cite any other significant issues with storing media managed by PSEO on NAS.

 

As to storing the catalog itself on NAS, I've done it and still do it with several small and rarely used catalogs. My primary catalog was stored on NAS for many years without significant issues, but with two downsides. First downside is performance does suffer as @MichelBParis suggests. Not hugely, but it's a drawback. Second, if you want the catalog to be accessible to any user account on the machine, PSEO makes this easy if you let it store the catalog locally in c:\ProgramData. If, however, you store it on NAS, then EACH user has to open that catalog specifically first (find it in File Explorer, then r-click or double-click Open), and not from Organizer. They can get there from Organizer, but Organizer will, IIRC, create a new catalog for them before they get far enough along to tell it where the NAS-located catalog is. On balance, for the primary catalog, I concluded that doing it Adobe's way was the path of least resistance. The downside to that, in turn, is that now you have to manage keeping C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs backed up--either by adding it to your OneDrive synced folders, Windows File History, or other means.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 01, 2024 Mar 01, 2024

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Hi Dick,

 

Thank you for the thorough explanation to both my drive letter assignment question and my NAS question.  With your response and Michel's response I now have a much better understanding of how PSE works and how I can better manage the PSE Organizer.

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