July 23, 2009

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - "The big move"

OK, so how many of you have started using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR2)?  If you have not, you should.  Most people start using Lightroom with the images saved onto their computers main hard drive, while the typical MacBookPro or iMac only has 320-500 gigabytes of storage space.  In the beginning we all think that we will have plenty of room for our images.  Then we start shooting RAW and buy amazing 21MP cameras, and all of the sudden our computer is preforming very slow, and Mac’s are not supposed to ever run slowly.  

I have been using external drives since long before the Beta of Lightroom came to the public; but I have many friends who have not.  One such friend recently had his iMac come to a halt (essentially filled the hard drive).  We then went on a search to find a way to move every image that he had in Lightroom from his iMac to a 1TB external drive without losing all the editing and organizing that was already done.

Now I know what you are thinking, it is Adobe so this should be an easy thing to do.  And I thought the same thing. I assumed that one could export the library, or move the photos and have Lightroom simply re-locate them.  Both of these will not do the trick.  We need the files moved and to still keep all of the Lightroom settings and have the file structure “Hierarchy” stay intact.  If all of your photos are in a single folder all you need to do is re-locate and then find one image (Adobe will do the rest); however if your folder”s” are organized into more than one folder (like we all do) this will not work without locating images in each folder manually (way more work than any of us have time for).  

Here is Jonathan’s report:
After weeks of searching, two weeks of adobe portal help, and three phone calls (2 Americans & 1 Indian) I have a successful method.  

What not to do: The Indian gentleman suggested moving all of the files to the external hard drive and then Re-import them. NO, NO, NO...  

As it always happens, the last call was the one that held the key to success!  A relatively easy way to move everything without losing the Hierarchy or your edits.  

The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure the entire folder hierarchy is in the “Folders” pane of LR2.  
While I had a folder hierarchy on my local mac drive, it didn't show up in folders on LR2. The reason for this is in order for the folder hierarchy to show up, at least one photo file needs to be in the top-most folder.  For me, that was the folder I named "pics".  Each Year's folder is under the folder "pics" on my local mac drive.
So, simply, I put an image (I was directed to use "ducky" in CS3 Samples because it has a bright yellow icon) into the folder "pics." So now I have a photo File called Ducky, and Folders years 2000-2009, all in my top most Folder named "pics".  I then import the file Ducky in the "pics" folder, obviously using import while leaving file in original location.  

Now, the entire folder hierarchy under "mac" HD is in the “Folders” pane in LR2 - a mirror of the hard drive.

Now, you have two options.

Note, the external hard drive (the drive you are moving to) needs to be added to the “Folders” pane in LR2 first, by simply clicking on the "+" sign and adding it.  
~ The first option is: 

In the “Folders” pane in Library section of LR2, drag and drop the folder you want moved, e.g. "pics" or any subfolder into the external hard drive located under “Folders” pane in LR2.  

This method will move all the files with the folder hierarchy intact to the external hard drive/new location.  At the same time this will delete the photo files on the local hard drive.  What we don't know is if there are additional files/photos/videos you have not imported to LR2; but exist in that folder hierarchy, will they be deleted - I doubt it; but I'm not going to gamble since LR2 doesn't even know they exist nor do I know if LR2 checks the integrity if it did move them.

The second option is the one that worked (with no fear).

Because most people export tweaked images from LR2 to another folder in the folder hierarchy.  Those exported tweaked files are never imported to LR2 - why should they be, they are JPG's/TIFF’s.  If you want to move all photos, including ones not imported, like the tweaked ones - from the local hard drive onto an external hard drive for space reasons then this is the safe way.

To make sure ALL folders/images/files are moved to the external hard drive, simply copy and paste the entire top folder (all 25K files/photos for me) on the local "mac" Hard drive to the external hard drive. Remember that you must have the entire hierarchy in LR2 so that it is maintained after the transition (see the “first thing” with questions).

Obviously, this will copy and paste all files/folders, maintaining the hierarchy as well as moving even the files not imported to LR2 - it also has the advantage that a "copy-paste" done by the computer checks the integrity of what was pasted to the original at the end of the paste. And, you guessed it, one does not delete the original files until you are sure the move and reconnection to LR2 was successful.  

Last; but not least, go back to the “folders” in LR2 and under "mac" HD, locate the “top” folder, which was copied and pasted to the external hard drive.  Right click on that folder in LR2 and choose "update folder location..."  

Choose the new location on your external hard drive, and the “top” folder in LR2 is now located under the external drive in LR2 folders and all photos/files are linked.  
This method obviously works for many applications, including moving between external hard drives (1TB to a 4TB in a year or two).  

Adobe does encourage one other thing, one should "save metadata to File" for all photos to create sidecars - not completely sure of the reasoning to this, but they suggest it...

There you go, Jonathan wrote this partially because he thought I would like to know and partially because he wanted a way of preserving the information.  Jonathan is not only a talented photographer and good friend; but he is also a gifted medical professional (MD).  He wanted me to share this with as many people as possible, so it goes onto my blog and wherever else I can find for it in the future.  His hope is that this will be helpful to many people who have these same issues now and in the future.  

Thanks for the information Jonathan.  If you want to check out some of Jonathan’s photos they can be viewed at http://bumpitup.smugmug.com/

Thanks for reading, and get the word out.  

Remember things change with software all of the time.  If things do not seem correct, contact Adobe and see if they have made changes.  If you find errors let us know; but we offer no warrantee to the use of this advice, nor are we available as technical support.  Sorry :)

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