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10 Messages

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262 Points

Sat, Jan 23, 2021 7:40 PM

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Copying catalogs and files to different computers, drive letters, and user ID's

I have over 20,000 photos in my Elements Organizer catalog.  I want to provide each of my children with a duplicate copy of the photos and catalogs, which have taken months of effort to compile.  I will purchase an Adobe elements license for each of my children.  My current file/catalog structure has everything on my 'D' drive in Windows.  My children's computers only have a 'C' drive.  I saw somewhere that the 'backup' and 'restore' process must use the same user id, and somewhere else that the drive letters of the 'backup' and 'restore' computers must match.  Is there a way to accomplish this task?  I would like to use an SD card (labeled as 'G' drive) to perform the transfer.

R R B

Accepted Solution

11 Messages

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162 Points

10 m ago

copy the catalog only ( you can do a back-up and restore of just the catalog in the latest version of Elements 2021) and put this on your other computer - maybe the C; drive. Get yourself a USB drive and copy the photos to this. When you plug the USB into the children's computer reassign the drive to be D: and everything should work ok. It does for me anyway!

86 Messages

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920 Points

"It does for me anyway!"

You have been very lucky!

The catalog you are copying stores the location of each photo file by:

1 - the full folder path under the letter drive

2 - the identifier of the disk, which is not only the letter drive, but the internal serial number of the disk. So if you have your original photo files on C, the catalog copy will search the files on C instead of the photo files copies on the new external drive. All your photos will be shown as disconnected.

In some cases, the organizer will recognize one of the two required criteria (path and letter) but the catalog will be wrong and you'll probably get issues later when backing up for instance.

936 Messages

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11.5K Points

Michel,

Why can't you use your same backup system on an external drive without the drive letter or if you need the drive letter, use the drive letter from the external drive where its located, and keep using that drive letter for all of your backup's from the catalog.  Doesn't hurt anything.  

Adobe uses a drive letter such as C: only for a placeholder and it's the local drive, but its Adobe content is in an app (folder) not on the local C drive, its located in the apps folder on C: and drives d, e, f, are static drives on the same ribbon cable in the same way as if you have diced up your C drive to make those drives.  An  external drive also installs as a local drive but as a local drive on another ribbon cable so that the computer can "see" that physical drive.  Your CD-rom (if you have one) is on the same cable as the C drive and is "seen" as a "slave" to the C: drive on the same C drive cable which has an extra connector for that.  Confused?  I'm not.  So if you use the external drive as another physical drive, all your stuff on the catalog will be on the external drive such as "K: my external drive" or J: my Seagate drive" or "M: my neighbors secret porn file he uses me to maintain".  

10 Messages

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262 Points

Gordon,

The OS will not allow me to reassign a drive letter to 'D'.  C and D are reserved, but all other letters are available for the reassignment.  I did upgrade my Elements to 2021 from 2020, which allowed me to backup just the Catalog.  Unfortunately, the Catalog still contains path identifiers tied to the original file locations of 'D:\'.  I then tried doing a full backup of both Catalog and Files, with restore to the target computer using the option to maintain the same folder structure.  It again had the 'D:\' path identified for each file and could not 'connect'.  I could reconnect a file by pointing to a new file destination and then not only that file, but also other files in the same folder reconnected.    I am in the process of reattempting the Catalog Restore without the same folder structure in hopes that the new file locations on the C drive will replace the old D drive identifier when Elements Organizer assigns a new 'flat' path for the files being copied to the C drive during the Restore process.  Unfortunately this didn't work either.  It is still looking for files on the D drive.  I have considered writing a program to go through all 60,000 catalog files and replace the letter D in the drive path with C, however a review of the binary file contents of several different file extensions has not revealed a recognizable 'path' string ( I also looked for Unicode strings ).

Is there a way to 'MOVE' files on my computer to a drive other than 'D' (e.g. external USB drive with letter 'G') and have the Catalog know that the files are in the new location, without having to 'reconnect' each file/folder?

R R B

11 Messages

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162 Points

perhaps you already have D: assigned to another drive? Reassign the other drive first from D: to another letter and then you will be able to reassign D: to your photos.

10 Messages

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262 Points

Gordon,

D is assigned to the DVD drive.  I didn't think it could be reassigned.  However, I just tried and it worked.  Now I can reassign D to my SD card that contains the photos.  The Disk Management utility did not list a D volume, and only Disk 0 and 1 appeared beneath the volume table,  however when I scrolled down I was able to see the DVD drive assignment, and change it.  Thank you for prompting me to explore this further.

R R B

Accepted Solution

207 Messages

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3.1K Points

10 m ago

Many years ago I needed to work on my catalog while being away from home so I had my desktop Elements Organizer catalog and pictures copied to my laptop.
I used the following workflow:

  1. All my photos were situated in the Picture directory which path was C:\Images.
  2. On my laptop I had the same version of Photoshop Elements installed .
  3. I copied the C:\Images directory to my laptop using my local network, but a SD, SSD or HDD intermediate would have worked as well.
  4. Then I navigated to the Catalogs directory which has by default the following path:  C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\
  5. I copied the required catalog directory onto the other computer at the same location.
  6. Opened Photoshop Elements and navigated to the Catalog Manager and selected the now visible catalog from my desktop to open it.

Hope this helps...

10 Messages

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262 Points

Jack,

This would probably work fine if my photos were on the 'C' drive, which exists also on the target computer(s).  However all my images are on the 'D' drive, which does not exist on the target, at least on my first son's computer.  There is also no bay in which to add a 2nd hard drive.  Replacing the DVD drive with a hard drive is one possibility.

R R B

207 Messages

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3.1K Points

Richard,

I understand your problem.
There is however a workaround for your problem.
It is the DOS Command SUBST.
It allows you to use a drive letter for a certain path.

Let's presume your images are all located under the D:\MyImages directory and let's presume you have already on the laptops of your children a DVD drive with the drive letter 'D' assigned to it.

  1. Go to Disk Management in Windows (right click on start) of your child's computer and assign the DVD drive to the letter 'I'.
  2. Copy all the images from your computer to the following directory on your child's computer: C:\FROMDAD\MyImages
  3. Open a regular Dos Window and enter the following command: 
    SUBST D: C:\FROMDAD
  4. Copy the catalogs directory files to your child's computer as I suggested in my first post.
  5. When you now open the catalog in Photoshop Elements, it will find all the files as the Organizer will believe they are all in the D:\MyImages directory thanks to the DOS SUBST command....
  6. Of course every time your child starts the computer and wants to open the images on his computer the DOS SUBST command must first be executed. To have this done by the system you can create a batch file and have it executed at Windows start if you put the link to the batch file in the startup directory which is by default in this path:
    C:\Users\[name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  7. You also must execute every time you start the computer the Disk Management DVD drive letter shuffle. This too can be done automatically by adding to the batch file DISKPART commands.  I can advise you how to go about if this whole procedure is relevant for you.

Let me know if you encounter problems with this procedure.

(edited)

10 Messages

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262 Points

I was able to get it working by swapping the 'D' drive designator with the DVD assignment.  I was not aware of the DOS SUBST command.  I think this is a little more elegant because I can keep the 'normal' drive assignments except for when I'm running Adobe Elements.  Thank you.

R R B

86 Messages

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920 Points

10 m ago

The backup and restore process enables moving the catalog and photo files trees to another computer or drive:

https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop-elements/kb/backup-restore-move-catalog-photoshop.html

The catalog backup folder can be distributed on any support, external drive or SD card, provided there is enough space. This is tested on the beginning of the backup, the space is calculated.

Once you have sent the support to each recipient, it's enough to start the restore from the PSE organizer and to specify where to restore. That can be anywhere, on the C drive, on another partition or internal or external drive.

However, if you want to send a ready to use version on an external support which only needs to be connected to any computer with PSE, you'll have to take care that the disk letter may be used by the final user. Use Windows to assign a drive letter such as S,T,U,V...

which will be free for that user before restoring the catalog and photo files on the media. Guide the final user to assign the same letter. (That will work even with a different letter, but there may be issues later with future backups).

The final user will only have to navigate to the catalog in the catalog manager.

I would use an external USB drive rather than a SD card for the ready-to-use choice. An SD card big enough to store a full backup would be ok.

936 Messages

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11.5K Points

10 m ago

As a Windows engineer, the other comments have good suggestions, but I have a few things to add.  Using your catalog to copy from is the way to go  maybe.  I say that because there are other ways to move data easier.  I am not a catalog user in Adobe, I am an editor. 

I suggest highly to use the old copy-paste onto an external drive, disc, flash drives.   I caution you, not to use the back-up utility in Windows.  It doesn't force you to use the same drive letter but it does force you to use the same computer.  Here's how it works. 

The back-up utility is date and time stamped, not drive stamped.  It will allow you to bring back your back-up to the computer that did the back-up but it will not be capable of using the back-up on another computer because any other computer does not have the same date-time stamp of the same back-up in its history.  The reason Windows does this:  Windows has a program that changes a disc into a "read-only" so that it forces you to only copy its contents to a drive, whatever the drive letter doesn't matter.  This is why I recommend the old copy-paste instead of the backup utility.  This way a copy can be copied to any drive letter, and on any computer.  The reason (we) had this program in Windows in the 1990's (and it's still on Windows 10) is to cover the Japanese Windows pirating problem which allowed any disc onto a computer anytime, for any reason.  The Japanese version of Windows had viruses.  So we side-tracked the disc input to make sure nobody was effected by this.  We didn't allow disc input unless it was a clean disc which meant no any disc.  The Japanese were making Windows without the "Genuine Windows Holograph" on the package, and that's how we could tell the difference.  Meanwhile, we had several teams from Microsoft who went out to buy up the discs and destroy them so they wouldn't enter into our regular market.  They were being sold underground so our teams went into parking lots and where they ere being sold "in the dark".  All of that ended in 1999 (while I was still there) but the program is still on Windows because more pirated discs have been made from other countries as well.  This copying problem could be the confusion of how everyone is describing what can be copies onto a drive.  

You are able to use a copy-paste on external drives and discs and flash drives.  20,000 photos will fill one DVD (4.3 Gigs) in JPG format, two discs if you are using TIFF format.  CD's should be avoided as they only fill with 4000 JPG and 100 TIFF at 300 resolution.  You are right that you should utilize flash drives as a good way to move data.  Note that some SanDisk flash drives have batteries on their larger flash drives, but low voltage capacitors on other flash drives (no batteries).  Battery flash drive last longer and so far I only see those from SanDisk.   

10 Messages

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262 Points

Steve,

I began by doing a copy and paste of the photos to the external drive.  The issue I have is that the Catalog is looking for the file connections with a path on the D drive and there is no easy way to get the storage media of the copied files to be recognized as drive 'D'.  One non-elegant possibility is to replace the DVD drive with a second hard drive.  'D' is assigned to the DVD and is not able to be assigned a different letter.  Another possibility is to buy a new computer with 2 internal drives for each of my 10 kids, but I'm looking for a solution that is more economical.

Is there a way to 'MOVE' files on my computer to a drive other than 'D' (e.g. external USB drive with letter 'G') and have the Catalog know that the files are in the new location, without having to 'reconnect' each file/folder?

R R B

86 Messages

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920 Points

10 m ago

This is the volume_table, which stores the information about each drive known to the catalog.

Each drive has its internal id, for instance C is 104. This is the internal identifier for all internal computation in the catalog.

Beside the drive letter, you have the description (I imagine it may be used for Macs...) and the serial. That serial comes from Windows which has a way to identify the device.

The drive letter is either attributed by Windows (the first available one) or you can define it yourself. If you have an external drive named F on a computer, it may be recongnized as K on another one, or even in the same computer if another device is plugged in as F when the external drive is not plugged in.

So how can you write the location of a given photo file if the drive letter changes randomly?

This is the media table, where the properties of each item are stored.
You'll notice that you have a full_filepath for the full path and a volume_id to identify the disk (volume).

The organizer is able to join the letter read from the volume_id and the full filepath to tell Windows which file to access. That is true until the drive letter has been changed which is a frequent situation. The volume_table must be edited to the new drive identification, change of letter, or change of letter, serial etc if the files are now on a different drive. Even if the full_path has been strictly reproduced.

If the drive is the same with a different drive letter, the organizer can find the new drive letter by searching from the serial. If the drive has been changed, only a manual edit with a sqlite utility can update both letter and serial.

Note that you get the serial from the DOS prompt:

vol C:

The hexadecimal result is translated into the decimal value found in the volume_table.

Much of this is decribed in the psedbtool help file from John R Ellis. Unfortunately the tools are no longer updated but that doc is precious to understand what goes inside the catalog.

https://johnrellis.com/psedbtool/#_Writing_File_Metadata

(edited)

10 Messages

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262 Points

Hello Michel,

It appears that if I write a program to search the catalog.pse18db file and replace the 'volume id' that correspond to drive 'D' on my computer with the 'volume id' that matches the media on which the files actually reside when moved to the target computer that it may resolve my problem.  Is this the only file that contains path information, or are there lots of others?

R R B

936 Messages

 • 

11.5K Points

Rather than look for ways to building a bigger mountain out of an ant hill, which describes what is happening here...  just slap the files onto a flash drive and enjoy your self.   In respect of your situation, your trying to use a different work around for every suggestion we give you, is looking more like a familiar joke we had in technology school back at the University in the 1980's.  Just do the old copy-paste and forget about it.  That will copy everything onto any drive you want to toss a ball at.    

10 Messages

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262 Points

@MichelBParise

Hello Michel,

Thank you for your detailed charts and the lead on the Database.net utility.  It allowed me to see how the drive letter was actually stored within the Catalog.  I was expecting the path to the file to be a text string, and was unable to find the structure of the Catalog that was so clearly displayed in the info you provided.  Thank you. 

R R B

86 Messages

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920 Points

@steve_lehman 

As far as I know, you are not using catalogs. I can't see any real issue with drive letters with that choice. However, the forums are full of complaints and issues for those who are using catalogs. The use of letters to define 'volumes' in Windows has a number of traps which are explained and suggest good practices when moving to new drives for instance.

There are three levels of software concerned and they need to use the same language.

- The OS (Windows is you domain)

- The catalog database (what I am mainly referring to). Some of us can use an sqlite utility to have a look at the structure and even take advantage of it to solve some issues.

- The organizer application itself, which reads and interprets the data from both the computer via the OS and the data stored in the catalog. For instance, how does the organizer reacts when the volume_table has two different drives id with the same letter, even if the serial is right in both? The details of the program are not plublicly known and you only have to make 'clinical' observations based on many cases.

@Richard 

I am using database.net to troubleshoot similar problems, and also to edit manually the volume_table for my backup strategy.

I do use the standard backup and restore process which I always recommend. However, it's so easy to 'sync' my photo folders tree to other external drives after each editing session (a few minutes) and to adjust the volume_table when necessary (two minutes max...) that the full backup and restore is only performed about monthly.

10 Messages

 • 

262 Points

10 m ago

I wish to thank all those who helped me to resolve this problem.  In retrospect the solution was simple, but I was blind sighted in my attempts to assign the letter D to the media with my images.

I have probably posted one question each year on various problems for the last 30 years and this is the first time that I have received such an overwhelming and helpful response.  All my other questions basically went unanswered.  Thank you again for your terrific support.