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I am planning ahead for when I buy a new computer. I currently have the original hard drive on my computer plus several additional internal hard drives that I had installed on my current computer when I got it. I have about 4TB of photos in 12 catalogs (I use a separate catalog for each year). When I get a new computer, I would like to have the Elements program on my computer, but all but the current catalog on some kind of external hard drive. I am concerned that if I have to disconnect that external hard drive (say, to take the computer in for repair) and then re-connect it, that if the drive letter changes, all my photos could be disconnected. How do I ensure that the drive letter remains the same on the external hard drive? And if it changes, is there an easy way to change it back to the original letter, and if I do that would the photos automatically be reconnected?
And second question, what is the safest and most durable type of external hard drive? I would like to get one that holds at least 8 TB of data. Or is there some other type of external device that would be more appropriate?
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Changing the drive letter is done from Windows (you'll find many tutorials on the web for that), so if you happen to connect your external drive on another computer, you may have to use the Explorer to assign the desired drive letter. Not a big problem. Also, the drive is not only recognized with the drive letter, it is also recognized from the internal serial number of the drive. However, even if that works, I prefer to get the correct drive letter to avoid possible later issues with backups.
I am not an expert in hardware, but I have never had issues with my many external USB drives which I use not only for backups but for storing my library. I much prefer having several backups or copies/clones on todays 1TB to 4 TB size. They are very reasonably priced as well as reliable and with a small size. I would not change my solution for big backup and network NAS solutions which are much more expensive and don't give me more safety. I imagine what would happen in case there is a fire or the hardware is stolen... I am safer with holding my backups in different locations.
Thanks, Michel. I have something like 10 external hard drives that I use to back up my photos and my Elements catalogs. I keep them in 3 different spots in addition to my home, so unless a tornado takes out my whole metro area I should be OK. What I want is to put all but my current catalog and photos on one external hard drive so I don't put such a strain on my computer. I have never had an issue with any of my external hard drives, either. I'm just worried that the photos might become disconnected if the drive letter changes if I have to detach and then re-attach the external drive to the computer. Restoring my catalogs when I got my current computer was a nightmare-some of the restorations took over 7 hours. So I don't want to have to do that if my photos become disconnected.
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How do I ensure that the drive letter remains the same on the external hard drive? And if it changes, is there an easy way to change it back to the original letter, and if I do that would the photos automatically be reconnected?
By @Darlene Fr
The drive letter change would be the result of Windows assigning the first free available letter to a new disk, and nothing is easier than using the Windows Explorer to assign a new drive letter, as I said in my prior post.
However, I realize that I have not fully understood what you want to do to with the new big storage.
My guess is that today, you have your photo/video files by years on different (internal?) drives or partitions. There is no difference if the drives (volumes) are internal or external.
I also believe you have your different catalog folders (with the databases) on the main computer in the default hidden location in AppData system folder. You can copy or move those catalog folders on other drives or locations without changing anything in their contents, they will work exactly the same.
I assume you don't want to change your decision to store and manage your whole library by a catalog for one year. That's a strategical choice which would require a distinct discussion. So, imagine you have found a big enough drive to store more than you 4GB photo library for future use, how will you store the contents of each year drive distinctly from the other years in that common new drive? The most obvious answer would be to create a different partition for each year. A backup and restore for each year will result in having in each partition both the media files of that year plus the catalog folder with the updated links. You can move all the catalog folders back in the default AppData location if you prefer.
Once done, that global move to the new big external drive will let you work exactly like before.
However, each new year, you'll have to create a new partition and a new catalog... or you'll continue the new year on the current latest catalog.
Another possible solution instead of creating partitions for each year is to create a folder structure with a master folder for each year in the new drive. You point the 'restore' function to each each folder instead of pointing to a partition. The result is that in all your catalogs, all your files are seen on the same drive, with the drive letter and internal serial number of the big drive. If you have to reconnect the big drive, no problem for the drive letter which you can reassign if necessary.
I'm not sure what you mean by partitions. Here is what I want to do when I buy a new computer:
Install Elements on my computer.
Restore all my current catalogs onto a large-capacity (I own a 14 TB one) external hard drive. Each catalog would have a different title (e.g. 2018, 2019, etc.). So all my photos and their thumbnails would be present in each catalog.
On January 1 of each year, I would start a new catalog and upload new photos to the same external hard drive.
When I edit a photo, I would save it into the new catalog. If I need to edit photos from previous catalogs, I want to be able to access them and edit them from whatever catalog they're on (on the external hard drive).
So can I do this? Can I open Elements on my computer, click on File, Manage Catalogs, and open up whatever catalog I want from the external hard drive?
First, forget about partitions which won't help you in your migration. Partitions are created when you format a drive from Windows Explorer. You divide your big drive into 'logical' smaller drives which the Explorer sees as distinct drives and to which it assigns different names and drive letters. Seen from the Explorer, you don't know if they are different physical drives or parts of a single big drive. Transfer from your present situation to your unique drive would be easy with a partition for each year, but you would have to prepare a number of empty partitions for the years to come...
So all my photos and their thumbnails would be present in each catalog.
I hope you keep in mind that a catalog does not contain your media files? An organizer catalog is just like a catalog for the paintings and sculptures of the Louvre Museum. A book with everything to find what you want from many indexes and small photos of the real works of art. The book can be used in the museum, at home or anywhere: if you carry the book with you, its contents are still valid. And now, I don't even know where your organizer catalogs are stored. They are folders, not single files. By default, they are stored in a hidden system folder on your C drive. When you are in a given catalog, click on the menu Help >>System Information to know the location. So your dozen of catalog folders may be now in the default location or anywhere else, including in an external drive.
When you want to have each year separately on the big drive, you have to decide:
- how to store the photos of each year separately on the new drive (probably under a master folder for each year, not under a new partition)
- where to store the catalog folders. You are free to choose to store them on your C drive or anywhere else, including under the master folder mentioned above.
- how you will transfer both your photos and catalogs: the recommended solution is to use the backup and restore solution. You backup each catalog then restore it in 'custom' location under the right master folder. The photos and the catalog are restored there, keeping the links in the catalog valid for the new locations of the photos.
So, before going into step by step details of your job, it's necessary to be clear on the above facts and maybe also to have a look at the consequences and at your possible choices.
As I see it, you'll have anyway to:
- create a hierarchy of master folders based on years in the new big drive. You can add easily a new master folder for each coming new year.
- move each year by backup and restore to the new master folder. The result is a strict working copy of your present organization. (In reality, you have made a copy, not a move, your current catalogs and photos are still there and working too.)
- decide where you prefer to store your catalog folders
- Have a look at your general backup strategy to optimize it.