Windows 10 --Moving Program files to D drive instead of default C Drive


I would like to change my program files from my C: drive to my D: drive on my laptop.

Reason: I have a relatively small C: ssd drive and a big D: ssd.   (BTW the C: ssd can not be replaced, so that is not an option.)

I see several ways to do it on the net, but want the suggestions of the Experts here.


Rowby GorenAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The best way is to uninstall all the applications you wish to move, shut down, start up and the install the applications to the D: drive.

My experience is that this is a bad idea and people have had issues trying to force software to another drive. It can work, but I do not recommend it.

Since the best way is to reinstall software, you would be better off to get a bigger C: drive and use that for software.

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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
I'll second John Hurst's comments.  Note, don't award any points to me, I'm just backing him up.
MacleanSystem EngineerCommented:
I'll "Third" the comment. Reinstall as per Johns comments. All points to him.
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C. Blaise MitsutamaLMS Administrator | Instructional DesignerCommented:

I simply want to agree with John Hurst's recommendations, so he's earned all the points.

Based on personal experience, I've found that moving programs to a drive other than C: can create unexpected problems and administrative headaches.

For example, although it's poor programming practice, some applications have hardcoded the C: drive in areas of the code. In some cases, when an application allows you to specify installation to a different drive, only a portion of the application will be written to the specified drive, while key portions of the code must still be installed on C:

These, and similar, scenarios can create problems when you're backing up and restoring files, updating software, etc.

For that reason when I buy computers, I now only buy computers with a single C: drive. I no longer partition D: or higher drives because I never know how much software I'll install in the future or how large the file requirements will be.

I haven't personally needed to do this, but if I needed to partition a separate drive for "data" files, I would probably buy an external drive to manage that data.

I realize this answer isn't exactly what you asked for, but whichever partitioning method you use will have its own set of complications. I haven't found these trade-offs to be worth it.
i would look first to other solutions :
move your data off the C: drive - much easier to do
start with pictures and video's and musicc files, they never change, so you can move them to other - even external devices to free up space
then move your documents folder

and delete all temp and tmp files and folders

btw - what size is your SSD ?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Agree with nobus's comment => it's very simple to move all of your documents, pictures, music, videos, etc. to another drive (i.e. the D: drive).     I suspect that would free up plenty of space on the C: drive [unless, of course, you've already done that and are still encountering issues => it's be a lot easier to evaluate if you provide the specific sizes of your two drives]
Install a new, 2nd copy of Windows to D:\ and boot from that copy.Then reinstall all the programs into that copy.  Your programs will then always install onto D:\ in that installation.  This is probably the easiest and least troublesome for later installations of other software that you wish to install later.  Once done you can edit boot.ini to remove the boot into C:\ and only boot into D:\ and delete  C:\Windows and C:\Program Files.  Do not delete the boot files from C:\  They are still needed to boot from C:\ into D:\.

If you just keep Windows on C:\ and change the install points, a lot of stuff still gets installed on C:\

Here's some basic information on some other options, if you don't install Windows onto D:\ first.  Some programs won't let you install to D:\, but you can still move them.

I've done a move back in the days of XP by finding and replacing all occurrences of the the program reference to the C:\ with D:\ in the Windows Registry.  I would make a copy of the program onto D:\ and just rename the Program Files folder.  That way I could easily reverse any mistakes.  This is much more involved with some programs and can be prone to error.  Make sure you back up the registry before you make changes.  Make multiple backups so that you can Windiff.exe the text *.reg files.  Be aware, that this may also break the unistalller programs.  You'll have to find the Class code and edit the uninstaller registry keys to make them work too, otherwise you'll have to remember what the program placed and delete the corresponding registry keys along with the files and folders to fully clear the program.

You could also copy C:\ to D:\ load up the registry and blanket search and replace C:\ with D:\ in appropriate locations in the registry, except for a few system files, like the kernel and boot.ini, etc...  New installs would still end up on C:\ unless you made the correct changes.

Again, the manual registry edit is much more involved, but can be done if you're only planning on a few moves.  I would sometimes keep most of the program files on C:\ and just move the one big application to D:\.  It really depends on what you need and how much expertise you have with the registry and how much effort you wish to put into it.
Rowby GorenAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone I appreciate all of your feedback.

And serialband your suggestion sounds good.  At the moment I have set it so my programs all install on D instead of C and that is helping.

But let's keep this conversation open to help others (and me) see the issues and options.

I'll finally award points next week.

Rowby, what about my post?  if you don't use that, tell us why plse
Rowby GorenAuthor Commented:
Hi all,

So this is what I did.  

I uninstalled all of my programs and reinstalled them.  When possible I did a custom install, switching drive "C:" to drive "D".  Most of my programs, even Creative Cloud would do that.   Only the latest version of Microsoft office would not do that.  I did copy over as many other folders, such as Images etc to my d: drive.

My SSD "C" drive is not removable and could not be replaced. For whatever reason Gigabye simply has the C: "drive" somewhere embedded in the motherboard.  And its capacity was a little over 100 gb.  I know it was small but I assumed I could just "swap" it out for a bigger SSD -- which turned out to be a bit of a surprise when I unscrewed the bottom plate of my laptop and only found the "D" hard drive was replaceable.

The good news is  by reinstalling most of my programs on my "D" drive I have plenty of breathing room on my "C" drive.  

So now all seems fine. However, in case I do end up filling up my "D" drive I will keep  serialband's comment in my notes that Windows can be installed on the "D" drive.  I didn't know it was possible.  So we'll see down the road.

Thanks all!  (I didn't award points to those who implied that they didn't want points and in general supported John's suggestion.  Thanks to you too!


JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thank you for the update and I was happy to assist.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... My SSD "C" drive is not removable and could not be replaced. For whatever reason Gigabye simply has the C: "drive" somewhere embedded in the motherboard. " ==>  You indicated that both C: and D: are SSDs.

Are you CERTAIN they are 2 physically separate drives?

Right-click on the Windows key (bottom left) and select Run.   Then type "diskmgmt.msc" and click OK.   This will show you whether there are 2 physically distinct drives or if you simply have an SSD that's been divided into 2 "drives"  [It will have other partitions as well, but they won't be assigned drive letters].

I suspect that's the case -- in which case you could have simply made C: larger without doing anything else ... but that's no longer necessary, since you've used a different approach.

If Disk Management shows that they are actually 2 physically distinct units, then the 2nd one is more likely an M.2 drive on the motherboard, which could have easily been replaced with a larger unit.    It's also possible that there's a unit soldered to the board, which would indeed not be replaceable; but I suspect that's the least likely of the alternatives.
Rowby GorenAuthor Commented:

I checked just now Disk Management and they are two different drives.  And when I opened up the computer a few weeks ago I was able to swap out the D: Hard drive and replace it with a SSD drive.  But I could not see a replaceable "C:" drive.

Looking at the Specs on Amazon this is how they refer to the "C" drive  128GB M2

There is a question answered on Amazon -- so maybe the "C" drive is upgradeable after all:

"You can upgrade the m.2 SSD and HDD to different drives as well, but there is only one slot of each and not any additional ones."

I have asked, on the Amazon product page if indeed the " m.2 SSD " is upgradeable.  

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I'm not surprised => I noted above it was almost certainly an M.2 unit.

You can easily replace it ... the only thing you need to determine is whether the unit on the board is a 42mm M.2 or an 80mm M.2.   The board MAY support both, but you shoud have a look -- and the safest thing would be to buy the same size as you already have.
[There are a few other lengths available, but these are by far the most common sizes]

Here's a 240GB  80mm (2280 = 80mm) unit:

... and here's a 256GB 42mm unit:
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