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Windows 7: User Folders - Change Default Location

08 May 2012   #220

Win7 Home Premium SP1 32bit


Thank you for this tutorial and the excellent answers. I read through all 22 pages of conversations in this thread (as well as many of those in the other tutorials about moving whole Profiles and having new Profiles stored in different locations) and somehow, I still have questions...not sure why my brain works like that.

I just bought a new HP - my first Windows 7 machine so I have a lot to learn. In the past, every time I've gotten a new machine, I've sworn to myself that I was "going to do things differently" and segregate my system files from my data files (docs, pics, etc) and never did it. But the first thing I did after getting this new machine (after loading AV and running windows updates) was to partition the 1TB HDD to (roughly) 250GB for the system and applications and 750TB for my data.

Anyway... it seems that many of this thread's questions and many of your replies revolve around HDD space issues and how if space is the concern then the best solution is not to move the user's folders but to create new ones on a separate drive and include them in libraries. But with this huge drive, it's not a space issue for me. It's a question of 4 things:
1. being able to quickly back up my system;
2. being able to quickly restore my sytem in event of a problem;
3. being able to easily back up my DATA without backing up a lot of extraneous application files which can be easily re-installed;
4. being able to easily reinstall Windows if it gets slow and clunky over time, without having to deal with my personal DATA at that time.
Can you address the issue of the system image having to include the DATA drive if I relocate ANY of the user's folders (My Documents, My Pictures) to the DATA drive?

Right now, my 250GB SYSTEM partition's image file is 54GB. If I move about 1GB of personal data from the Documents folder (currently in the User Profile folder on the SYSTEM partition) to a folder on my 750GB DATA partition, are you saying that future backup images will include the DATA partition? Will the image include just that 1GB piece of the DATA drive or much more of it? While space for files, etc isn't an issue, keeping multiple copies of larger and larger system images will be.

I'm new to the practice of system images - they seem like a much better idea than just backing up files if the goal is to get up and running again quickly. BUT, over time, as one's Windows installation gets more and more cluttered, slow, and clunky, the system images will reflect that. So then doing a wipe and reinstalling Windows means losing all my User Profile info, right? Whereas if I had my User Profiles sitting on that DATA partition, I could wipe the SYSTEM partition and my User Profiles would still be intact. Do I have that right? Or is there a problem with my logic?

As a follow up question to that last one, IF you wipe and reinstall Windows from scratch, CAN you even use User Profiles that you saved from your prior system? If not, then is there even any reason to save them separately from the system (as they would be if they resided on a DATA drive)?

Thank you for your help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 May 2012   #221

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Buckscaper,

That's correct. If you were to move any of your user folders to the 750 GB partition, then it would be included in the system image that would have to be saved somewhere other than the 250 GB W7 and 750 GB partitions since you cannot save a system image to a same location included in the system image. Personally I do not recommend to move user profiles or user folders to another location just to avoid potential issues from it. Including folders to a library is much safer,

For the best backup protection, it would be better to have your system image backups and included folders for libraries located on a separate physical HDD instead of the same HDD that Windows is installed on. This way if your Windows 7 HDD should fail, all of your system images and data in the included folders would still be on your other separate HDD.

In your case, it would still be better to have the included folders and system images on your 750 GB partition. This way if your W7 installation goes south one day, the included folders on the 750 GB would remain intact and you will still be able to restore your system image back to the 250 GB partition to have it back like it was before.

Hope this helps,
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2012   #222

Win7 Home Premium SP1 32bit

Thanks for your response. Based on that, here is how I think things will be set up. Could you please comment and let me know if it seems that I understood your instructions?

1TB drive
- 250GB partition with Win7 system, applications, User Profiles & User Folders, Libraries.
---- this partition will be periodically imaged using Win7 backup/image function, with the images stored on an attached external 500GB HDD.
---- this partition will also be backed up via Carbonite.

- 750GB partition - DATA drive. Will contain folders like "documents", "pictures", "videos", etc which will be INCLUDED folders in the appropriate Libraries mentioned above.
---- this partition will be backed up only via Carbonite (until I get another external HDD big enough to handle it).

Do I have that right?

One other confusion I have is where to put my Dropbox folder - the default location is on the 250 system partition //User/user-name/Dropbox or should I relocate it to the 750 Data partition?

Thank you again
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2012   #223

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Anytime mate. :)

Yep, that sounds like a good setup to have.

Since Dropbox is a 3rd party app, it would be best to leave it at it's default location unless the app has a setting to specify where to have the folder at instead.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

10 May 2012   #224

Win7 Home Premium SP1 32bit

Cool. Thanks very much. Dropbox does give the option of putting it anywhere the user wants, during installation. But I think that once it's installed, I'd have to uninstall and reinstall to get it moved. And...since I already installed it, I'll leave it where it is!

Thank you again. I think I'll be happy with this setup.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2012   #225

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

You're most welcome Buck. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Sep 2012   #226

Windows 7

Hi Brink,

Thank you for your excellent tutorial. Could you please explain to me.

I have the SSD (C: drive) for Windows 7 Pro x64 and applications, the HDD (D: drive) is my data storage.

I can reach the My Document folder by three ways:

1. Desktop -> Libraries ->Documents ->My Documents
2. Desktop -> (User-Name)->My Documents
3. Desktop -> Computer -> Local Disk (C: ) -> Users -> (User-Name) -> My Documents

The # 3 is the real location of the folder by default. When I move the My Document folder from C: drive on D: drive, the folder disappears from location # 3 but exists (reference ?, shortcut ?) in location # 2. If I delete My Document folder from location # 2, then my real My Document folder is deleted from its new location on drive D:

Is this as it should be?

Should I delete all User folders (My Documents, My Music, etc…) from location #2 or not ?

Thank you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Sep 2012   #227

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Shurzota,

Yes, when you move "My Documents" from C to D, "My Documents" will no longer be at #3. However, the (User Name) "User's Files" desktop icon #2 and Documents library #1 will still be linked to wherever on D you moved "My Documents" and open it.

If #2 is just the turned on "User's Files" desktop icon, then deleting it will not hurt anything and just turn it off and not affect "My Documents" at any other location since the desktop icon is just basically a shortcut.

Hope this helps, :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Nov 2012   #228

windows 7 home premium 64bit

dear brink, hello how do you do...?

um, i've been reading about the user folders - change default location, and when i installed my windows earlier this year i followed the post#1 instruction and move my Videos to D and my Documents to I

I moved it from C:/users/user-name/my videos => D:/my videos

now I'd like to ask...,

if I would like to rename the D my videos folder to smthn else like "Random 123", Can I just simply do it, or do i have to be concern with changing some paths or some other things as well?

secondly, I partitionize my drive to C D F and G, E is the DVD drive.
CD are primary and FG are logical.
I'd like to change the drive letter from G => I, is it as simple as changing it from the disk management menu or is there anything i should be concern about since the drive letter skips some letter? (i mean, instead of CDEFG, it's CDEF-I)

thirdly, i'd like to ask, my DVD drive default path is E, is it possible to change it to other letters without causing any problems? I'd like to change it to say Z or something. Or is it best left alone in terms of optical disk drive?

thank you very much,

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Nov 2012   #229

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello kungfupanda,

No. You would not want to try and rename one of your user folders like "My Videos". Doing so will break it's symbolic link. If you like, I would recommend to move these folders back to your C drive, then do what's in the yellow Tip box at the top of the tutorial to use libraries instead. This way you can create a folder named what and where you like for this instead without the risk of messing up your user folders.

Yes, you can change your G drive letter to I, but only do so if you do not have anything (ex: shortcuts) that run or save automatically to the G drive. If you do and change the drive letter, then they will no longer work since they are still looking for the G drive. Use caution.

You should have no issue with changing your DVD's E letter to Z.

Hope this helps, :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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