I recently upgraded from PSE9 to PSE21. In preparation, I cleared out a lot of photo files, reconnected many more, and moved others from one hard drive to another. When I tried to activate the Editor now, I was told that the disk was full. Well, it was not the one where all my photos should be stored. It was on the C-drive (Main). Using Folder Size, I determined that the bulk of files was stored as follows: Adobe\Photoshop Elements\Catalogs\Catalogs\Photos with a similar file structure as the directories appearing on my data drive. Is PSE now making copies on that C-drive? Can I just delete these and recover my 101GB available space there? How can I prevent PSE from making copies of files and photos there?
PSE does not make copies on its own. The editor can't copy folder trees. You can use the organizer to copy or backup and restore folder trees where you want, but that's always a deliberate choice of your own or an error when restoring a backup to a 'custom' location.
Can you tell us more about what you did, if you used the organizer, converted a catalog, restored a backup?
It's likely you can delete the duplicate folder tree in your C drive, but the first thing to do if you can open the organizer would be to check where your catalog says your image files are located, probably on an external drive.
I did a full backup after cleaning up duplicate files and reconnecting others using PSE9. Then I installed PSE21. Apart from a SSD C-drive, I have two hard drives on my computer (F and G). I could not find the catalog where I expected. By checking the Help tag, I found the catalog link on F-drive. To my surprise, I could not convert the catalog, so I restored the .tly file from an external drive. Turns out that the backup file placed all images and keytags onto that older hard drive (F), whereas I had hoped to put the catalog on the newer (G) one. I figured I could always then move the catalog there once I had become familiar with PSE21. Well, somehow copies of the photo directories and contents were placed in the C-drive as follows: Program Data\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\Catalogs\Photos. It contains 26GB of photos in 13 directories. Curiously, the files also include a Users directory, a catalog.pse9db and a catalog.pse16db file (presumably when I tried to install PSE18 a couple of years ago).
There is a directory in Program Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\Catalogs\Catalogs that also has a Photos directory with the same 26GB photo files, directories, and the Catalogs subdirectory includes that catalog.pse9db file from that earlier install. This Photoshop Elements directory also has the 19.0 sub-directory for PSE21 with proper listing of required files. Although I have now attempted to remove all instances of PSE9 to prevent conflicts, I am unable to do so. Windows Settings gives me an Error 1316. I find bits of PSE9 here or there in my directories, which makes life more challenging. I suspect that my repeated efforts to install PSE versions over the years have made things more complex, but a clean installation of PSE21 would make the transition less worrisome. With all photos now on F-drive, can I delete the above two duplicate file trees and free space on the C-drive now?
I'll take some time to understand your drives setup, but I already suspect a big issue following the installation of the SSD drive: did you install it and clone the contents of the previous system drive to the SSD while re-using that old system drive as another internal drive? That would be an explanation for most of your issues. If so, I might ask a few questions to see how you could correct the situation. In a few words, that would mean that the cloning has fooled the organizer which finds two drives with the same identification. The more you can describe your setup, the better.
I believe the problems occurred because my old F-drive was cleaned to provide a working HD, yet Windows10 was never deleted or the entire drive reformatted. Turns out that my PSE catalog was stored there all along. I have worked with my IT specialist to clear most of the drive, but we never deleted Windows. Perhaps that was the problem. I think I chose this because I didn't want to lose valuable files on the drive without analyzing those first.
The SSD C-drive was properly installed and made the Main drive. But not until I upgraded to PSE21 did I notice that the file tree of photos was copied there - twice. It resulted in a full 240GB drive and alerted me to that problem when I tried to start the Editor. Strangely, when I checked the PSE System info, the catalog address was accurately noted as F:\ProgramData\Adobe\Elements Organizer\Catalogs\Catalogs, but it never gave me a catalog name. So I could not move it to the newer G-drive as I expected.
Only when I restored the entire photo collection (to the F-drive, natch) did the 23,000 images appear. Since then I do have a catalog name (Catalogs1) and plan to move it to the newer drive once the noted issues are settled. Lesson learned - reformat any HD you plan to use as a data drive.