I am running out of room all the time on my internal hard drive and I'm thinking of getting a 4 terabyte external hard drive to save all my photos to. I have so many old photos on these drives now, it's out of control. Does anyone have a recommendation of a way to set up your computer to manage all of this effectively? Do people get rid of old photos at a certain point ,or is there a way to archive old files so that I can free up space on my hard drives?
First, I doubt that most people get rid of photos just because they are short on disk space. I certainly don't and it sounds like a horrible idea to me. Purchasing more disk space sounds like a much better idea.
When a particular drive is getting full (or getting old) and/or you want to move photos to a different drive, you should move the photos using your operating system, and then re-connect in Lightroom using these instructions: Adobe Lightroom - Find moved or missing files and folders. Should you choose to do this, move the entire "tree" or hierarchy of folders intact, do not move folders and photos around within the hierarchy.
How to keep track of it all? Well, honestly, that's what Lightroom is for. It is designed to be your Digital Asset Manager or DAM for short. You can have the photos stored anywhere you like, and organized within Lightroom using whatever methods you want. In particular, I choose not to organize by folders or disks, I choose to organize by keywords and metadata, so that I absolutely don't care and don't need to know what folder contains a particular photo, I find it by keywords and other metadata. I store my photos in sub-folders with default folder names (which is capture date) and place all of these sub-folders inside a parent folder named "Photos". That's it. If I ever run out of space on a disk, I would continue the process on the 2nd disk, putting new photos inside a subfolder named for capture date inside a parent folder (perhaps "Photos2") on the 2nd disk. But I wouldn't have to remember which photo is on which disk, that's what Lightroom is for, all I have to do is search by keyword or other metadata.
Thanks for your help dj paige! With your help and after watching some adobe videos, I think I have a good plan and a better understanding of what to do. I really appreciate it!