This drive has 81,000 image files, cataloged into 15 "buckets", each "bucket" holding approx 15 job folders, so I obviously want to make sure I don't have to link all those folders by hand.
What's the best process to do this so I have no issues with the catalog knowing the new location of the files?
The instructions are here: Adobe Lightroom - Find moved or missing files and folders You connect the parent folder (as shown in Figure 4), and then all sub-folders will also be connected. If I am understanding your use of the word "bucket" (do you really mean "parent folder"?), then you would have to do this for each of the 15 buckets.
This would be much simpler if you had one "bucket" or parent folder, and many sub-folders and sub-sub-folders.
Article was perfect. I used the 2nd solution, Updating Folder Location. As I could leave the original HD in the machine and add the new one, it worked just great. I just pointed at the top level parent folder and LR linked to all the sub and sub sub folders.
I don't quite understand why this isn't an option when the original drive isn't there.