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Windows 7: Change Program Files default location?

04 Jul 2011   #21
MacGyvr

Windows 7 Ultimate RTM (Technet)
 
 

I've never heard of anyone doing this, nor is there any logic in it. The risks of corruption to the system are far greater if you DO this than if you DON'T do it, because you are altering the fundamental way the operating system works.


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07 Jul 2011   #22
Euph0ria

Windows XP Pro SP3, Windows 7 Home, Ubuntu-Latest, openSUSE-Latest
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by severedsolo
Because there is absolutely NO need to install your Program Files on a seperate partition. You have to reinstall the programs anyway when you reinstall the OS, so they may as well stay on C.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by MacGyvr View Post
I've never heard of anyone doing this, nor is there any logic in it. The risks of corruption to the system are far greater if you DO this than if you DON'T do it, because you are altering the fundamental way the operating system works.
I don't know how many of you are constantly re-installing windows, but I've been running solid for years, with the vast majority of my "program files" installed software on a separate partition as \programs. Does wonders for system and drive performance as well. And it certainly doesn't alter the "fundamental way" the operating system works.... it's just a default directory designation for installing software.

I did it on W2k, on XP and Win7. Keeping the operating system files as isolated as possible from other data (program files, temp files, user and web browser profiles and cache, swap file, and general media) has always made things far more stable, improved performance, and made backup and dual booting of other operating systems, including virtualization. (Providing direct access to VMware/Virtual Box machines, running Wine under Linux, etc)
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07 Jul 2011   #23
Euph0ria

Windows XP Pro SP3, Windows 7 Home, Ubuntu-Latest, openSUSE-Latest
 
 
Set Windows variables

Just changing the registry values in windows 7 won't do the trick. You should also manually specify the paths of where you want your default software install to be in your Windows 7 variables.
For example, you might set "PROGRAMFILES" to "F:\Programs" and "PROGRAMFILES(X86)" to "F:\Programs\x86" And maybe optionally "COMMONPROGRAMFILES" to "F:\Programs\Common\" etc.. and make a separate, smaller partition that can hold a contiguous windows swap file, and temp files... set "TEMP" and "TMP" to "G:\Temp\" And perhaps create your Firefox and Chrome, etc browser profiles/cache in the same/similar partition. Same can be done with User profiles, in conjunction with changing the appropriate registry settings as well.

A partial list of windows variables can be found here:
Recognized Environment Variables

A quick tutorial on how to add/edit variables can be found here:
How to Add, Remove or Edit Environment variables in Windows 7?
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09 Aug 2011   #24
douglascm

Windows 7 Ultimate RTM
 
 

+1 for Euph0ria
Perhaps the separation is an old habit from WinXP, but there is really lot of good in it.
The bad of the separation for Win7 is that you lose the advantages of HARDLINK for some Microsoft programs.
Another problem for Win7 is that you can not specify the ProgramFileDir value during installation time, like we did using an unattended installation script for XP.
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09 Aug 2011   #25
severedsolo

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by douglascm View Post
+1 for Euph0ria
Perhaps the separation is an old habit from WinXP, but there is really lot of good in it.
Alright... perhaps you can explain to me what the good is? As I said,I can see no advantages at all. Fragmentation shouldn't be an issue, having a seperate programs partition is a PITA when you come to reinstall.

In contrast, having a seperate User Data partition, is pure win. You don't lose all your stuff if the PC goes south etc.

I'm willing to admit I could be wrong though.. so please enlighten me, what are these advantages of which you speak?
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23 Aug 2011   #26
FUState

Windows 7 Professional 64
 
 

+1 for Euph0ria again... so many forums with people saying you should not move your Program Files to another drive, so few with people letting you know how to do it.
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23 Aug 2011   #27
FUState

Windows 7 Professional 64
 
 

For example, I purchased a Solid State Drive to install Windows 7 on, a 32 GB drive (which displays 28 GB total space (265 MB free now.)) Considering windows states in the system requirements that it needs 20GB, I'm somewhat disappointed (had I known it needed 26 (what it showed when I had not yet installed anything but Windows and a few updates) I would most likely have gone for the 60GB SSD.

I have been installing all of my programs to G:\Program Files, but programs keep installing portions that I cannot control to (C:\.) For example, installing simply accounting by sage to G:\Program Files, another folder was created in C:\Program Files (x86)\winsim where 48.8 MB was installed.

Some programs install completely to C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86) without allowing me to select an alternative location.

I barely have any programs on my computer, and I'm already running out of room.

I already moved all my user data to an alternative location (H:\,) but now I'm trying to find a way to move the program files that have been installed already, because my C drive is full.

So there is not "absolutely NO need to install your Program Files on a seperate partition."

Now, will anyone help me move a few of my existing programs to drive G?
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24 Aug 2011   #28
TorQueMoD

Windows 7 64bit
 
 

You should never need to touch the "Program Files" directory. In fact, you shouldn't really mess with any of the OS directories, it would only cause problems and there's no real benefit. That said, I've personally been using multiple partitions/hard drives in my systems for the past 12 years without issue.

What I do is first create a partition for my Windows install... for windows 7 this partition was typically around 100 gigs. How on earth some people on here say they can get the OS to run on a 40gb partition WITH their programs installed in the Program Files directory is completely beyond me. I just yesterday did a clean install of windows, and the OS (Windows Pro x64) is taking up 67.5 gigs of space AFTER I've moved out all of my "My docs", "My videos", "My Pictures" etc. to another drive all together.

Application Data which should never EVER be moved, simply grows and grows every time you install new software and if you're a designer like me (videogame design), Adobe Creative suite, 3D Studio Max and every other program takes up a lot of space in AppData. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you let windows automatically manage your page file (virtual memory) it defaults to a size on par with the amount of ram you have installed in your system. In my case I have 24 gigs of ram so the page file - 24567mb (23.99gb) takes up another huge whack of space.

This time however, I dedicated an entire 500gb hard drive to the windows partition as I noticed that after about a year, the OS gets really close to the 100GB mark and I figured it'd be nice to dedicate a single HD to the OS and the 500gb was the smallest drive I had.

Like I mentioned above I have several other drives for all of my other files and software. I have an E drive (Extra) for random data that I want to sort at another time, an F Drive for Storage (My Docs, Pictures, Downloads go here), a G drive for games (Steam alone is 161GB) H drive for programs (This is where I manually install absolutely everything from Winamp and DivX to Adobe Master Suite and 3ds Max) and finally an M drive for Media where I put all Music, Videos etc. (which means I point My Videos and My Music here)

Not only does this make things a lot easier for when I have to re-install my OS (Simply nuke the C drive and re-install) but it also means that I NEVER have to worry about loosing any of my software related files (max saves, game saves, music, videos etc.) in an OS Crash or Virus situation and I don't have to worry about program stability as someone else here pointed out with a directory that uses a space in its name "Program Files" (one of my 3D apps crashes constantly if installed here). Of course I still backup all the important files to other media but I imagine everyone does.

The downside is that if I do re-install windows I have to re-install virtually all of my software (the rare program like Steam will simply run regardless of whether or not they're in the registry) but unless you're ghosting your HD or creating a backup image, you're going to have to do this anyway - and since all of my non-software related files are safe on separate drives, it usually only takes me a single day to get back up and running and I'm fairly sure I have a LOT more software installed than the average user.

Bottom line, its perfectly acceptable to have Multiple partitions or even drives for your software and leave the OS on a separate one and quite frankly after 18 years experience with computers and 12 years using this method, I wouldn't recommend anything else.
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26 Aug 2011   #29
FUState

Windows 7 Professional 64
 
 

I did not realize that I had options (other than moving program files (I had already moved user accounts.))

Then I stumbled upon this wonderful tutorial. I still install my files onto a separate drive, and obviously some data goes onto the c drive, but this free up disk space article was very helpful!
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 Change Program Files default location?




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