Moving Images But Keeping the Organizer’s Catalog File in the Default Location

I have written before how I use the PSE Backup/Restore commands to not only back up my photos, but also whenever I upgrade to a new computer. My first blog post on the subject was in May 2008. That post focused on moving your images to an external hard drive. The basic concept is you use the PSE Backup command to capture all of your images, their tags, projects etc, and then use the Restore command to move them and the Catalog itself to the external drive.

 I have used this command pair several times over the years. Today, I used it again but with an added twist. My goal was to not only have my pictures on my second internal drive, Drive F, but to keep the Catalog file in the default location on the C Drive. Normally when you use the Backup/Restore command pair to relocate your Catalog and images, the Catalog file is put in a folder on the destination drive, in my case Drive F.

 Remember it is the Catalog file that houses your preview images that you view when using the Organizer.  External hard drives are generally not as fast as internal drives, at least currently. So, if you have moved your images and Catalog to an external hard drive, you may want to consider putting your Catalog file back onto your C Drive. You may not notice the difference for relatively small Catalogs, but it might slow down your working with the Organizer for large Catalogs. My prime photo Catalog has over 26K images, so I want to do anything that will increase the performance of PSE. That is why I chose to put my photos on a second internal Hard drive and not an external one. Here are the steps I did today.

     1. I did a Full Backup to an external hard drive using the PSE Backup command.
     2. Using the PSE Restore command, I restored my Catalog to a folder on my F Drive.

          At this point, my photo images and Catalog are on my F drive. This would be the external hard drive for those people relocating their images and Catalog to an external hard

      3. I then renamed my Catalog using File > Catalog > Rename to some other name.
      4. I then moved the renamed Catalog back to the C Drive using File > Catalog > Move, and selecting the Catalogs Accessible by All Users option. This moves the Catalog  
           file  to the default location on the C Drive, but the images remain on the F Drive in my case.
       5. Finally, I reset the location where my camera’s pictures will be uploaded to reflect the new location on my F Drive, using Edit > Preferences > Camera and Card Reader.

I did the above today, and everything seems to be working fine. I had done Step 1 yesterday, so I started with Step 2 today, which took three and one-half hours to complete. Also, after the Catalog was restored, it took a couple of more hours to generate all of the thumbnails. However, you can use the Organizer while this is going on. 

 By the way, when you Restore your images to a new location/drive they still are also in their original location. Once you know the relocated Catalog/images are working fine, you can delete them from their original location.  I normally do this in stages checking for any Reconnect problems as I go. That is what I’m about to do now.

Until next time.

3 thoughts on “Moving Images But Keeping the Organizer’s Catalog File in the Default Location

  1. I have a question about a variation of this process. I will soon be upgrading my operating system from Vista 32 bit to Windows 7 professional 64 bit. I am using Photoshop Elements 8. I have approximately 35,000 image files distributed in 3 catalogs. The image files are on a physically separate internal drive and the catalogs are in their customary place on the c (system) drive also physically separate.

    I want to backup and restore the catalogs to the correct place on the c drive after loading the Windows 7 operating system without disturbing the image files. Can I simply copy the catalog files and then copy them back after the new operating system is loaded or must I use the Backup Catalog to a hard drive which copies both the catalog and the image files and would lengthen the process dramatically?

    Also, is there anything else that I need to backup and then restore (i.e. save keyword tags to file)?



    • First, let may say that I have always used the built-in Backup/Restore commands to do similar things. But I have a feeling I’m in the minority here. That being said, I believe your plan is a sound one and should work.

      The catalogs are in the same place in both Vista and Windows 7. The bit-level should not change this. After you re-install PSE 8, and have the catalog files in place, PSE 8 should locate the pictures without any trouble. Your internal drive letter for your images will not change during your switchover. With older versions of PSE, changing of drive letter assignments caused problems.

      With the number of images/catalogs you have, it will be much faster. Having that many images/catalogs, you have a lot invested. Obviously, I am sure you will do a full backup on each of your catalogs.

      Also, you might want to simulate what you are going to do with a small test catalog. Obviously, you can’t change operating systems, but you can do the basic process. This is probably not necessary, but I am pretty cautious when I do things like this. Finally, I would start with my smallest catalog first after the operating system changeover.

      Your process will save all of the tag assignments. I have never saved my tags to a file.

      Good luck, and let us know how it went.


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