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It is typical for almost all photographers to work with multiple hard drives. Therefore, here we're going to explore how we can work with multiple hard drives and also how we can work with what's called the Volume browser inside of the Folder panel in the Library module. Well, the first thing that I need to do, of course, is import some photographs from another hard drive. So, we'll go through the import process that we've seen before. I'll click on the Import button in the lower left-hand corner of Lightroom here in the Library module. I am going to import images from this hard drive, which I've named sashimi and then I have a sub folder titled photo_library.
Now, what I want to do with these pictures is simply add them to the Lightroom catalog. In other words, we want our photographs to stay on the external hard drive. We don't want to move them off of that, they can stay there. We just want Lightroom to know that that hard drive and this folder on that hard drive exist. Next, on the right-hand side, we'll do our usual File Handling settings and Apply During Import, add a little bit of metadata. Sure! Next step is to simply click Import. Now, once Lightroom picks up these files, you'll notice that there's a new Volume browser.
I am going to go ahead and close these two-volume browsers just so we can focus in on what we have here. For starters, you'll notice there's a little green light to the left of the hard drive name. Now, this light is actually pretty helpful, because here's what it's telling us. If it's green, well, there's 10 gigabytes or more of space free; if it's yellow, well, less than 10 gigabytes of space is free; if it's orange, less than 5 gigabytes of space is free; and then if it turns red, that's when you really need to start thinking about using a different hard drive, well, then it has less than 1 gigabyte of space free.
You know you never want to fill a hard drive all the way up. Really if it gets to that orange light you want to start thinking about using another hard drive and not filling it up or kind of over filling that drive with information. Next, on the right-hand side, we have some information. We have information, in this case, about the data on the drive, and you can right-click or Ctrl+click and you can choose different Volume Info. Currently, it's on Disk Space. You can choose Photo Count. It'll update both of these or we can choose Status, is it Online or Offline, or of course we can simply select None, which will take all of that information off.
Now I tend to prefer to have at least some sort of information there, because I think it can be valuable to say okay, well, how full is this drive, how much data do I have on that drive and it gives you kind of a heads up in regards to thinking about when you may need to add another drive to your workflow. A couple of other things I want to highlight here is that if we go ahead and open up this Volume browser, we can see we have a number of different photographs. Now, what's interesting about this is we can do really anything that we want to do in Lightroom. We could go to Develop Module, we could go to the Slideshow, we could create an online web gallery, because this drive is connected.
Yet what can happen sometimes is that this drive may not be turned on or it may be disconnected. Let's go ahead and take a look at that scenario. In order to do that, I am going to right-click or Ctrl+click on this Volume browser and choose Show in Finder or Explorer and then I am going to eject the hard drive. So, I'll go ahead and do that by clicking on this Eject button here or by right-clicking or Ctrl+ clicking and choosing Eject. Now, once this is ejected, if I go back to Lightroom what will happen in the second is this will become grayed out.
It will tell me that this hard drive is actually offline, in other words, it isn't plugged in. What's interesting though is I can still continue to work with these files. So, I am going to open up a larger view of this. I could scroll through these images. I could also add star ratings to these. Let's say we want to add a two star to this one and maybe a three star to this one. We could go ahead and add different types of metadata to these files. We could also work with keywording or adding comments to these pictures. So, there's still a lot that you can do.
Compare this for a second to the Adobe Bridge. If you're working with the Adobe Bridge and a hard drive is turned off, well there is nothing you can do. You can't view files, you can't access files, you can't do really anything. But Lightroom, because of the catalog, it has this built-in memory, and that's one of the beauties, one of the reasons why so many people like Lightroom because we still have access to the files. We can still view them and work with them in some really fascinating ways. The other thing that's helpful is sometimes what will happen is this. I am going to go to my Catalog panel here and just look at All Photographs.
And let's say that as I am looking through these photographs, I am just scrolling through everything that I have in my library and I come across one that I want to work with, and let's say it's this one here, this sunrise shot. Well, all of a sudden I see this little question mark (?) next to it. What that question mark (?) is telling me is that there's some sort of problem with this file. Well, I am not exactly sure what the problem is but I am guessing it's on one of my five hard drives, which is turned off, because a lot of times we have a number of different hard drives. Well, I don't really know which hard drive it is.
Well, there're a couple of different ways we can find that out. One way is to right-click or Ctrl+click and then choose Go to Folder in the Library. What this will do is it will take me to that folder and then I can say oh, yeah, that was on this particular hard drive. I'll go ahead and flip the switch on that one and I'll be on my way in order to work on that image or in order to be able to work on it and then export it to send it to a client, because if the hard drive isn't plugged in, there's a lot I can't do, no develop settings, no exporting, etcetera. You get the gist.
I can't print the pictures. So again, this gives me a really handy way to know which of my drives that's on and this is really helpful if you have multiple hard drives. Okay, well, let's go back to perhaps another scenario. Go to All Photographs and let's say we pick another picture, this one here. And we're looking at this picture and it tells us this one is offline or missing. It's not part of this library. Well, another thing that you can do is if you go back to the Grid View, you can click on this little question mark (?).
This will say, this file can't be used because the original file can't be found. Would you like to locate it? In this case, yeah, sure. the previous location was on a hard drive which was called sashimi. Okay, great! Yeah, that's right. I forgot to turn that one on. I'll go ahead and flip the switch on the hard drive and then I'll be on my way. So there you can see there're a couple of ways to really reverse engineer or figure out where these files are saved or which hard drives they're on in order to then turn that hard drive on.
And the beauty of this is that, of course, we can start to view these files and work with them regards to metadata or adding labels or stars, but even more, we don't really have to necessarily remember where they're saved, so we can have all of these different hard drives. We don't have to have all of those hard drives on at once because both you and I know the more we have a hard drive on, the shorter its lifespan because hard drives have a limited lifespan. So, in this way, I can only have my essential hard drives on and then if I have some files that are archives on other hard drives, well, I can have those off and then only turn them on as needed.
The last thing I want to point out here is that you can of course expand and collapse these various volume browsers, and then if ever you decide to stop using images on a hard drive, let's say, for example that unfortunately the sashimi hard drive, well, it was lost or stolen or it died. Well, if you need to remove this from your Lightroom catalog, from your Library, you can select the folder and then click the minus button (-), this will then remove that folder. I'll go ahead and do that and it will also remove the Volume browser just kind of clean everything up.
So, now the Folders panel just displays those hard drives which are active, those hard drives which we want to work with.
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