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Windows 7: Changing default install path


21 Aug 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 
Changing default install path

I find it folly to install my applications on the C drive, especially the larger applications. Doing so makes the C drive so large that it is cumbersome to make the image backups that I think are necessary to insure an easy recovery from any problem causing a failure to boot. In WinXP, there is an easy way to change the default install location by changing ProgramFilesDir at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion. I changed that to a specific folder on my D drive and have used that for the last 8 years with no problem. It appears this registry key is only used by install programs to let them know where you want your programs installed.

I really miss this wonderful feature in windows 7. Actually windows 7 has the same registry key, but unfortunately it does not seem to be used for the same purpose. I'm not sure exactly what it does, but at least for some programs, Windows seems to use it as a path to find the program when it is to be executed. Of course that would make little sense because there would be no way to actually change the key without breaking something. (What sense is there in having a registry key that can't be changed?). I have tried changing this key on two different systems and eventually it did lead to problems on both systems. So now I'm back to laboriously changing the path from C:\program files or C:\program files (x86) every single time I install an application (which it turns out I do quite often).

Is it possible that a script could be developed to search for C:\program files or program files(x86) in an edit box and replace it with my preferred path with a single hot key? That would at least take most of the drudgery out of it, although it would still require choosing the "custom" install on many applications, not to mention the occasional errant applications that always install to the default install path with no chance for user intervention.

If anyone has found a way around this little problem, I would much appreciate hearing about it.

Thanks
~Paul

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

21 Aug 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
 
 

Microsoft does not support changing the location of the Program Files folder by modifying the ProgramFilesDir registry value

There is a method I found, but I think I'd go with MS advice on this. Fair warning, make backups before attempting, do so at your own risk.

Change Default Installation Directory In Windows 7 & Vista

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Aug 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 
Changing the default install path

Thanks Guy for the link to the work around, although in my case I've already got too much stuff in Program Files(x86) to keep two copies of it around especially since both my C and D drives are on a SSD.

It's amazing to me that Microsoft can get away with statements like this which I translate as "You can create as many drives as you want, just like you could in all our older operating windows or DOS operating systems, although you can't really use them for storing your applications".

In my first post I mentioned that a somewhat cumbersome work around is to simply change the install path during every time you install a new application. Actually it is even worse than that because many applications seem to mostly or partly ignore what you say. For example when I recently installed Acronis True Image Home which installed 105 Mbytes of the program on my D drive where I specified I wanted it to be installed in, but it put 145 Mbytes of stuff in C\Program Files (x86)\Acronis and C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Acronis

Microsoft seems to be gravitating to the "we know what's best for you; Do it our way" attitude. (Fortunately not quite to the extremes that Apple takes this attitude however). I think Windows XP was the best OS they every created, but alas as support for that old OS has been wearing thin I've gravitated very grudingly towards Windows 7.

~Paul
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


21 Aug 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
 
 

Well, I am not meaning to defend MS, we all have our issues with any OS, but...

MS did design the software, and for whatever reasons, designed it the way they did. Now that it is what it is, they can also say they know what's the best way to use it, as they designed it. Obviously the question is "why did you design it that way in the 1st place?".

We will never know, our choice is to use it, or not. Now that we are using it, all we can do is make it work the best for us as we can. We all wonder why they changed something that worked so well for us, but at the same time, other changes they made were improvements, so it can be a wash.

Their design obviously needs to put at least some program data on C:\ along with the OS, so it is something that we have to put up with if we use Windows. It doesn't help you in this situation, but it is what it is

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Changing default install path




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