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Using Photoshop Elements While Photos are on an external backup drive

Community Beginner ,
Apr 24, 2020

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Dear Sir or Madam,

 

I have thousands and thousands of photos on my laptop computer (a PC) and I am running out of disk space.

I have backed up all my photos to a Western Digital external hard drive, but have no idea how to keep the structure – albums, tags, etc.- I have created on Photoshop Elements 2020.

 

The external hard drive contains expected photo files plus  .json files, .xmp files and I think I know what those are. I would like to use Elements to edit photos, but to keep the bulk of my photos on the external hard drive .I would like to delete my photos from my laptop's almost full hard drive, but want to be able to find my albums, tags, etc. on the external hard drive, by clicking on a specific album on Photoshop Elements on my laptop. 

 

How do I do this?

 

Thank you.

 

Michael Sirota

dadorphan@aol.com

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Using Photoshop Elements While Photos are on an external backup drive

Community Beginner ,
Apr 24, 2020

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Dear Sir or Madam,

 

I have thousands and thousands of photos on my laptop computer (a PC) and I am running out of disk space.

I have backed up all my photos to a Western Digital external hard drive, but have no idea how to keep the structure – albums, tags, etc.- I have created on Photoshop Elements 2020.

 

The external hard drive contains expected photo files plus  .json files, .xmp files and I think I know what those are. I would like to use Elements to edit photos, but to keep the bulk of my photos on the external hard drive .I would like to delete my photos from my laptop's almost full hard drive, but want to be able to find my albums, tags, etc. on the external hard drive, by clicking on a specific album on Photoshop Elements on my laptop. 

 

How do I do this?

 

Thank you.

 

Michael Sirota

dadorphan@aol.com

TOPICS
How to, Organizer

Views

196

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Apr 24, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 24, 2020

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It would be better to use the Backup and Restore feature of the Organizer to move all of your files to your external hard drive.  This will allow you to preserve your current folder structure and will also maintain your tags, face recognition, Albums, and similar features of your current catalog.  Once the catalog has been restored on your new hard drive, you can use the restored catalog which uses the files on your external hard drive and you can then delete the files from your laptop.  If there is enough room on your external drive, you can do this now.  Otherwise, I would delete the files from your external HD and start the Backup/Restore with a clean drive.

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Apr 24, 2020 0
Community Beginner ,
Apr 24, 2020

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Greg S.
 
Thank you for responding so quickly. I was a little confused because my 70 year old tech skills are not the best. See my questions below. Thanks.
 
 

In a message dated 4/24/2020 3:39:24 PM Central Standard Time, community_noreply@adobe.com writes:

 
 
 

 

Adobe Support Community
 
Hi dadorphan,
 
Greg_S. just posted in a community you follow.
 

 
Apr 24, 2020 01:24 PM in Photoshop Elements
Re: Using Photoshop Elements While Photos are on an external backup drive
 

It would be better to use the Backup and Restore feature of the Organizer to move all of your files to your external hard drive. I thought "back up and restore" was used to move files stored in back up on the external hard drive and restore them back  to my laptop? his will allow you to preserve your current folder structure and will also maintain your tags, face recognition, Albums, and similar features of your current catalog. How do you back up  and restore to an external hard drive  with albums, structure, etc. ? Once the catalog has been restored on your new hard drive, [By new hard drive, do you mean my current external hard drive or a third hard drive I should purchase. I believe you mean my current ext hard drive. ]you can use the restored catalog which uses the files on your external hard drive and you can then delete the files from your laptop.  If there is enough room on your external drive, you can do this now.  Otherwise, I would delete the files from your external HD and start the Backup/Restore with a clean drive. Let's assume I delete all the photos 

 
on my external hard drive. What do I do next? I'm sure I am not the first illiterate to ask this question. Is there a link to a step by step set of instructions?
 
Thanks very much and I apologize for my dumb question and this response.
 
Best regards,
 
Michael S.

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Apr 24, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 25, 2020

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First, there is no such thing as a dumb question.  But I have to admit that my earlier response was a little dumb.  So let me clarify.  You can backup your catalog (including all the media files) to your external hard drive.  You can then restore the backup to the same external drive.  BUT, this will depend on the size of your catalog and media files and the size of your external hard drive.  So, in order to conduct this operation, it may be necessary to purchase a second external hard drive.

 

 How do you back up  and restore to an external hard drive  with albums, structure, etc. ? 

The backup contains the full catalog database which includes all of the information to restore all of your Albums and keyword tags etc.   

 

When you perform the restore to the new location (your external hard drive) you are given the option to maintain your existing folder structure where the backed up images will be restored.  Only the drive location will change.

 

For complete instructions on the Backup and Restore process, take a look at this Help Article.

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Apr 25, 2020 0
Community Beginner ,
Apr 25, 2020

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Greg S.

 

Thanks very much for your advice, information and patience.

 

I have a 3 TB Western Digital  external backup drive, and about 550 GB are taken up by my photos and associated files. Since 2017 I have  taken  each photo in both raw and .jpg, so I take up a lot of space with each image.  Those 550 GB represents all the accumulated photos I have taken since 2012, so I think I have a bunch of room left on the external hard drive. 

 

One problem is that external drive has 5 to 10  separate Incremental Backup photo files downloaded from Organizer representing periodic backups. When I experimented  to see how Restore would work, it seemed as if I wouldn't be able to download more than one of those files at a time. Holding down one mouse button on a file and clicking on Control or Shift didn't highlight more than the original highlighted file at a time. In addition, it seems that I have a file called "File History," which, when I click it and click it,  winds up with a subfile entitled "Pictures,"  which contains about 3500 jpg photos. 

 

Is there a way of consolidating all those separate and other backup files on my external WD hard drive into  one file, or should I just delete every last (separate backup and associated) file on my external drive, start from scratch and perform a full back up in Organizer onto the external drive and then restore that one single file I have created on the external hard drive, to the same external drive. What do I then do with the original full backup on the external drive, which contains .xmp, .json and .tly, .buc, etc. files? Do I delete that as well as delete my laptop photos, or will I need to keep those backup files now on my external hard drive? What do I do when I want to add new photos to my beautiful new file I have created with restore?

 

 Would it be a better idea if I bought another external hard drive and did the backup and restore to the newly bought drive?

 

Thanks for any help you can render.

 

Is there any other information you will need?

 

Thanks so much for your patience.

 

Best regards,

 

Michael S.

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Apr 25, 2020 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 25, 2020

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I don't know the best way for you to make backups, but it is certain that if you have everything (including incremental backups) on only one drive then you do not have effective backups. Over the years I have seen literally dozens of drives fail, losing everything on the drive, without warning.

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Apr 25, 2020 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 25, 2020

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This is really important: if you move your photos to an external drive, IT ISN'T A BACKUP DRIVE. A backup means you have at least two copies. If you must remove from your computer, copy them to TWO drives. This may seem hard or expensive, but drives fail all the time, and can you afford to lose all your work?

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Apr 25, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 25, 2020

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"This is really important: if you move your photos to an external drive, IT ISN'T A BACKUP DRIVE. A backup means you have at least two copies. If you must remove from your computer, copy them to TWO drives. This may seem hard or expensive, but drives fail all the time, and can you afford to lose all your work?"

 

How does that excellent general advice apply to Elements?

The main difference with other solutions is that what the organizer calls a backup is folder containing:

- a copy of the catalog itself (the main database and its accessory files, such as thumbnails and face recognition, projects)

- a renamed copy of each media file (including xmp sidecar files) 

- a 'backup.tly' file storing the folder structure and other information to be able to restore the files back into the same folder structure than before.

 

A 'backup folder' is only useable from the 'restore' command. It's not a copy and you can't use it otherwise.

It is recognized by the 'restore' command of newer Elements versions so that it can be automatically converted to the current database and catalog format. Such a backup folder needs to be on an external drive to protect you if the backed up computer or drive becomes unavailable. If you choose to store your media folders on an external drive, use a different external drive for the backup folder.

 

Something to keep in mind (which is not purely theoretical) is that when you have done a backup, there is not much to be absolutely sure that the backup is fully ok. The only way is to restore somewhere else. When you migrate from one computer or drive to another, you are safe. You have your old version, you have a (tested) backup and a (running) version on the new computer or drive.

 

If you are running periodical backups, it's a good idea to keep two recent backup folders. If you have another available external drive, why not restore the full catalog on this drive to be sure that the backup is ok? The other advantage would be that the restored version would work immediately (catalog and media) when plugged in on any computer with the right PSE version, without having to wait hours for the restore.

 

Note that even if that is not covered in the help files, the catalog folder can be moved or copied anywhere else without the media files. You only need to do that from the explorer. When you do an organizer restore on 'custom' location, the catalog folder is also copied under that master folder. The catalog manager lets you choose if you want that catalog folder to be moved on the default (hidden) location. Since copying a catalog folder is very fast compared to a full backup, it's a good idea to save it frequently, even after each editing session.

 

 

 

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Apr 25, 2020 0
Greg_S. LATEST
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 25, 2020

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Just to summarize:  Your original question sought advice on how to move your media files from your limited size laptop drive to a larger external drive.  As discussed, the best way to accomplish that goal is to backup your existing laptop catalog and restore it to a much larger external drive.  Ideally, you would have two external hard drives.  You could then create a backup on one external drive (for safe-keeping everything you need from your current catalog), and then restoring that backup to a second external drive which will be used as a working drive for your catalog.  All new media will be stored on that working drive.  Periodically, you would backup your catalog to the other drive.

 

Is there a way of consolidating all those separate and other backup files on my external WD hard drive into one file,

No.  All of the incremental files are needed to restore the backup. 

 

or should I just delete every last (separate backup and associated) file on my external drive, start from scratch and perform a full back up in Organizer onto the external drive and then restore that one single file I have created on the external hard drive, to the same external drive.

If two external drives are not feasible for your right now, this would be the plan I would choose. You certainly appear to have enough hard drive space to serve you for the foreseeable future.

 

Keeping a backup on the same drive does no harm and can serve a useful purpose (e.g. guarding against accidental deletions of a working copy and restoring a corrupt catalog) except in a case where there is a complete failure of a hard drive.  In my experience those are few and far between.  But of course they always happen at the worst time.  So, I agree with Michel and TSN that it would be best to have a second (and third) hard drive used solely for backups. 

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Apr 25, 2020 0