Jun 302009

I’ve written about this before, in Moving Folders to an External Hard Drive.  There is also a Geeks on Tour video: (Member Tutorial Video: Move Folders of Pictures to an External Drive)

I wanted to talk about it again because I don’t think people realize just how useful, important and easy it is to store photos on an external hard drive and use them in Picasa.  I have over 20,000 pictures that I’ve taken in our RV travels since 2004 and I love being able to browse thru all of them.  In Picasa I can search for ‘Odie’ and see photos of our dog throughout all the years.  Or I can make an album of photos from Austin, Texas which includes every time we’ve visited (2004, 06, 08 & 09.)  Picasa can make this album because it has access to all my photos.

But, those 20,000 photos take up a bit over 50 Gigabytes of hard drive space. On a 200 GB hard drive, that means that my photos would take up 1/4 of all the space available.  If that was the main thing on my computer it would be OK, but I need the space for lots of other stuff as well.  So, all the pictures more than a couple year’s old are stored on the external hard drive – a Western Digital ‘Passport’ drive which I have designated as drive letter P:

The screen shot below is what it looks like in Picasa.  I can’t even tell which folders are on my computer and which are on the Passport when I’m in flat folder view.  All 20,000 photos are in the library, they’re searchable, and they’re available for Albums, emailing, uploading, printing etc.


If you switch to Tree Structure view, you can see that the 200612 folder is indeed on the P: drive.


Here’s my system: Whenever I take pictures, I copy them from the camera to the computer into a folder for the current month.  All my pictures are in folders by month that they were taken.  I keep a year or two on my computer.  When I want to move some over to the USB Hard drive, I use Picasa to do it.  It moves the whole folder off of my computer and onto the external hard drive.  Using Picasa to make the move means that it keeps track of the new location for all the photos, this maintains their placement in any folders.

Works great!

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  14 Responses to “Storing Pictures on an External Hard Drive”

  1. I like your website, thank you! Specifically your description on the use of an external hard disk, not for backup, but for “working area.” I can’t get this 100% right though, since Picasa seems to forget where to find the files.

    More specifically I have Picasa on my PC. A year ago I connected external HDD via USB. assigned folders i Picasa which scanned folders and identified Pictures. Moreover I used face recognition and labelled about 50 people or so on a lot (10.000?) pictures.

    Today I connected external HDD Again. Started Picasa which identified neew Pictures on the PC which where added to Picasa. Fine!. But the Pictures on the external HDD seems to be forgotten. For example, the list of people are correct, but most of them have zero pictures. So I conlude, that Picasa remembers the Work I have done on face recognition, but are not able to find the Pictures Again.

    Of course it is possible to rescan and do face recognition Again, no thats not really an option every time.

    What do I do sp that Picasa find the Pictures – and previous index or whatever you call the Work Picasa (and I!) have done earlier?

    Thanks in advance.


  2. If all my photos are currently on an external hard drive and that’s where Picasa finds my photos, do I need to do a back-up or anything to now use the hard drive on my new computer with Picasa?

  3. I store my photos on an external hard drive, but for me it doesn’t work so well, and I am not sure why.

    I’ve set Picasa to “Always Scan” the external folder so that any photos that are copied there, will be shown in Picasa.
    The problem is that if I start Picasa at a time when there is no connection to the external drive, it ‘forgets’ about all the photos. Next time there is connection, it starts scanning everything again, and it takes many hours before all the photos are available again.

    I’d like to prevent Picasa from ‘forgetting’ all the photos. Might the solution be to turn off “Always Scan” and only use the “Move folder” to put photos there? How do I then make the photos available to Picasa on various computers in the household?

    If anyone has experience with this and can help, I’d like to hear from you!


    • I am having the same problem. Picasa seems to forget all the photos when the external drive is disconnected and then it scans them all again when the drive is connected.

      I see this question has been asked a few months back, please can anyone answer it?

  4. […] that hard drive so, when I view my pictures in Picasa I see all 30,000 pictures (see article: Storing Pictures on External Drive.)  But I know that only the 8,000 on my computer’s C drive are being backed up each […]

  5. yes my picasa 3 used to download to the western dig A FOLDER
    But no it shows it as a document which is no good so have to go to dvd
    has anybody had this problem and solved it?

  6. yes my picasa used to download to the western dig A FOLDER
    But no it shows it as a document which is no good so have to go to dvd
    has anybody had this problem and solved it?

  7. When I tried to copy the web address in your e-mail message and use it with my browser all I could get was a message that there was no such address. Have I done something wrong?

    • I need more specifics … can you tell me what email, or paste the actual address into a comment here?

  8. How can I have the SAME picture in more than ONE folder?? Do i copy it or impoirt it 2x or?? When I arrange my folders other than date, I like to have some pictures in more than ONE folder, ex.: in July 09 folder and FAMILY pictures folder!! I do not want them in an album, or is that the only way to do that?

    Please advise
    Thanks Annemarie

    • I really, *really*, think that albums is the right way to do what you want. Did you read this past article? Use Albums.
      But, if you insist … you would either Export the picture to another folder, make sure to use original size. OR, you can File Save a Copy… which will copy it to the current folder – then drag it where you want.

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