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Separating Windows folders

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Not really a coding topic but I'm a little confused.

 

When you install Windows (specifically 7 x64 in this case) the drive contains 4 folders: Program Files, Program Files (x86), Users, and Windows. Now I know that you can point User Profiles to wherever you like so that isn't a problem.

 

What I'm doing is building my first PC and I'm just looking into a method of having the operating system on an SSD (because they're kind of expensive right now) and everything else on a standard HDD. My current idea was to purchase a 40GB SSD and some arbitrarily sized drive for everything else.

 

The thing is that most of the space is likely to be rapidly taken up by programs and not Windows. Probable solution: 2 drives (one containing the Windows folder and another containing Program Files, Program Files (x86), and Users). How does Windows react to fresh installs with programs on separate drives?

 

If I wiped the Programs drive or the Windows drive how badly would Windows implode?

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If you dedicate a single drive only to Window's folder (which takes around 10Gb for Win7), you'd be wasting a lot of space (30Gb+).

 

Still, I'm not sure if you can do that. I know you can change the User folder location, but NTFS doesn't supports hardlinks among different drives, and I don't think you could fix that with softlinks only. Not counting bricking the install in the middle of course.

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What programs are you planning to install?

Most installers offer you a choice of where to install them, merely defaulting to "<os drive>:/Program Files/". It doesn't harm software to be installed outside of Program Files (unless they were poorly made).

Smaller programs that you use frequently, I'd continue to install in the same drive.
For games, which are expecting users to have slow hard drives and preload their resources into RAMs, you can choose to manually install on another drive. Steam allows you to choose an alternative drive to install games on, even if Steam is itself installed in 'Program Files'. Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Just get a larger SSD, the very large ones are expensive but 80GB should cover most of your program installing need.

While most installer support installing elsewhere it's not worth the trouple the day you absolutely need an old / crappy program that really expects that there is a C:\program file\companyname\programname and nothing else.

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Have you tried symbolic links?  I moved my Program Files directories off of my 32GB SSD successfully using them. 

 

Edit: Using robocopy and the Windows 7 Repair command prompt*

Edited by amrazek111

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If you dedicate a single drive only to Window's folder (which takes around 10Gb for Win7), you'd be wasting a lot of space (30Gb+).

 

Still, I'm not sure if you can do that. I know you can change the User folder location, but NTFS doesn't supports hardlinks among different drives, and I don't think you could fix that with softlinks only. Not counting bricking the install in the middle of course.

 

My current Windows folder (that's just the system folder) is 30 GB. I wanted to leave room for updates and the like.

 

It's possible via a change of the registry value that changes the default location and then a ROBOCOPY via a install disk and then apparently a junction to the new location just in case. That's done after the installation finishes.

 

What programs are you planning to install?

 

Visual Studio 2010/2012's toolset, Starcraft, Steam, nothing really fancy. These aren't _that_ big in themselves its just that with them and Windows fighting for space It's unlikely that I'd have the room.

Most installers offer you a choice of where to install them, merely defaulting to ":/Program Files/". It doesn't harm software to be installed outside of Program Files (unless they were poorly made).

 

I know. :). This is really a curiosity for usability. Really if it came down to it I could just make "fake" folders on the separate drive.

 

Added benefit of wiping Windows and leaving all my files intact.

 

Just get a larger SSD, the very large ones are expensive but 80GB should cover most of your program installing need.

 

I regularly fill the 256GB of my current drive so those sizes aren't really up to my requirement. :/. I figured I could just get a cheaper HDD and upgrade when I have the money later.

 

Have you tried symbolic links?  I moved my Program Files directories off of my 32GB SSD successfully using them. 

 
Edit: Using robocopy and the Windows 7 Repair command prompt*

 

That was exactly my plan. :). I was just wondering how Windows behaved during updates, etc. All I could find on Microsoft forms was the _advice_ not to do it. _advice_ is nice but it's not really an explanation. :P.

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Sorry for the double post but I wanted to make this bit clear (I'm not amazing at explaining myself): I was just wondering how Windows behaved during updates, etc.

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In the past, I always made sure that during program installation, that it doesn't install it to the C:\Program Files, but rather the drive of my own choice.  It's a tedious process as you have to keep doing this for every program you install, but in the end it's not so bad.  As a matter of fact, recent version of Windows apply special priveleges to the Program Files folder that some older programs that write extra files to its own folder get denied.  By installing them to somewhere else, it could alleviate this problem.

 

This was back in Windows XP, not sure Windows 7.

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In the past, I always made sure that during program installation, that it doesn't install it to the C:\Program Files, but rather the drive of my own choice.  It's a tedious process as you have to keep doing this for every program you install, but in the end it's not so bad.

Yeah, this is the other reason. I'm hoping that a lot of programs installing using the %ProgramFiles% macro. If I change that in the registry then it'd make life just generally easier.

 

How does Windows react to the "Common" folder being moved?

Edited by BinaryPhysics

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I was just wondering how Windows behaved during updates, etc. All I could find on Microsoft forms was the _advice_ not to do it. _advice_ is nice but it's not really an explanation.

I didn't want to respond until I'd had a reasonable amount of time to test things out, since I'd only recently moved my folders.  Everything has been working fine, with one exception: some updates (specifically, those related to internet explorer) failed with error 80070011.  It turns out Windows 7 has some entries in the registry that need to be altered if you move your program files with a junction.  I found this solution which solved those issues for me. 

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I did this just recently.  SSDs are now under the €1 per GB price mark, which is what I considered the appropriate point to make the switchover, and you can quite easily buy 256GB for a very reasonable price.  At that kind of cost I left the OS and program files on the SSD and moved the User Profile stuff to the regular HD; I also used junction points (via mklink) to link some of the folders from D to C, which works very well.

 

Personally I'd say that if you can afford it you should go for 256GB; it'll pay you back in the longer term from the increased performance and battery life.

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