Nothing is done for no reason. Some users want to move program files to another drive on Windows 10/8/7. Here are two cases why you want to do so.
Situation 1: Move program files to another drive on the same disk
As time goes on, you may install a large amount of game software or other software on your computer. In general, the installed game software or other software will be installed on program files and program files (x86) by default. To avoid low disk space warning, you may want to move program files and program files (x86) to another drive on Windows 10/8/7 and then save the newly installed software to it instead of C drive.
Situation 2: Move program files to different physical disk
In this case, you usually have one or more spare physical hard drive. And you migrate OS to smaller SSD in Windows 7/8/10. To get a much better experience, you may want to retain enough space of your SSD and move program files and program files (x86) from SSD to HDD.
Can you move program files to another drive?
Speaking of transfering files or folders to external storage device like external hard drive, USB flash hard drive, NAS or cloud storage device, you may think it is a piece of cake. However, when it comes to moving program files, you may feel awkward.
Program files and program files (x86) folder (the x86 version is there for backwards compatibility and make sure you can run 32-bit applications on a 64-bit OS) is hard-wired into Windows. And there will be problem if it isn’t where Windows expects it to be. Maybe, most of the programs on your Windows 10/8/7 will stop working or does not respond correctly if you directly drag Program files and program files (x86) folder.
Thus, you cannot directly migrate program files to another drive whether on the same disk or different physical disk. You need to backup the system first, and then try the solutions given below.
How to move programs files to different drive?
As mentioned above, how to move programs files from C to D or how to move program files from SSD to HDD, is not a simple problem that copy and paste can solve. To relocate program files to another drive, you need to divide into two parts. The first part is to ensure the security of your computer while the second part is to migrate programs files.
Part 1:backup the system just in case
Before you start, you need to get that every operation is at risk. For example, if you misuse Registry Editor, your computer may be crashed. And there is a risk that users cannot use the programs after moving program files.
To avoid something irreversible happens, you can choose to backup system with a reliable backup and restore software like free AOMEI Backupper Standard. With just a few clicks, your computer is backed up.
Also, it supports other backup solutions and corresponding restore operations, including, Disk Backup, File Backup, System Restore, Universal Restore, etc. Please note that some features are only available on the paid version, such as, AOMEI Backupper Professional.
To the specific steps of creating a system backup, you can see below.
Step 1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard, install and launch it.
Step 2. Click Backup under the Backup tab, then tag on System Backup
Step 3. This tool will automatically choose your C drive as Source Partition.
AOMEI Backupper will backup all things on the system drive including program files and other files concerned to boot your computer successfully. Here, you only need to click Step 2 to select your Destination Partition and click Start Backup after you confirm all settings.
Part 2: Move program files to another drive for more space or better performance
Giving up “Copy” and ”Paste” and follow the instructions below. Here are 3 ways that help you relocate programs files to another drive.
Method 1: Migrate program files to another drive using Registry Editor
Before you use this method, there are two things you need to do.
1. Create a folder named Program files (x86) on another drive (eg: D: drive)
2. Copy "Program Files" and "Program Files (x86)" directories to the new location first.
Run CMD as administrator and type following command prompt
Robocopy "C:\Program Files" "D:\Program Files" /mir
Robocopy "C:\Program Files (x86)" "D:\Program Files (x86)" /mir
Now, continue to see below.
Step 1. Press “Win + R”to summon the Run window, then type Regedit.exe
Step 2. Find the following path on Registry Editor and change drive letter from C: to D:
To Windows 7/8/8.1:
To Windows 10:
Method 2: Move program files to different drive using mklink
The second method is to create a symbolic link using Command Prompt. A symbolic link is a bit like the shortcuts to programs, folders and websites which attach to the desktop. When Windows or any program tries to access the folder, the symbolic link redirects it to the new location.
Step 1. Move “C: \Program Files” fodler to “D: \Program Files”
Step 2. Type cmd in the search box, click it and run as administrator
Step 3. Create a symbolic link with mklink.
If you do not know how to use it, you can directly type mklink in the command prompt window. You can get some information concerned to create a symbolic link. Then, use mklink /D link Target syntax to create a symbolic link and press Enter.
Taking create a symbolic link for “D: Program Files” as example, you are supposed to type：
mklink /D “Program Files” “D: Program Files”
“Program Files” is the name of your new symbolic link name.
“D: Program Files” is the path your new link refers to.
The command mklink has two type, including soft link and hard link. The above link is a soft link, which just redirect you from a soft link to the folder where the files are stored. The hard link can be more useful, because it makes the files or folders appears as if it actually exist at the location of the symbolic link.
You can use the mklink /J link target to replace the above one and type as: mklink /J “Program Files” “D: Program Files”
If you have physical disks and want to move program files from SSD to HDD, you need to connect your HDD disk to your computer. Then, your computer will assign a drive letter or more for your hard drive. Finally, you can do as above. Aside by that, you still can use disk cloning software to clone entire system drive or hard drive to your HDD. It’s much easier.
Method 3: Relocate programs files to another drive using “Move” feature
How to move installed programs to another drive in Windows 10? You can try “Move” features in the Windows Settings.
Step 1. Go to start menu > Settings > System > Apps & features, then you will see a list programs.
Step 2. Select an app and hit the Move option under the specified app, and then select a location on another drive.
Step 3. Click Move again.
Step 4. Repeat Step 2and Step 3 until the last program is moved to a new drive.
Above ways can help you to move program files to another drive on Windows 10 in a way. However, both ways have its own limitation.
For the first way, you may encounter system crash if you misuse Registry Editor. For the second way, there is a risk that users cannot use the programs after moving program files. For the last way, you may feel boring and time-consuming. Beside, you cannot move all the installed apps on your computer.
Moving program files to another drive on Windows 10/8/7, you can use Registry Editor, mklink, or Move feature. But these operation are potentially risky. Thus, you need to take some prevention measures in advance. System Backup or Disk Backup is one of the best way to protect your computer. No matter what problem you encounter, it can help you out of problems and restore your computer to an earlier date.
For backup and restore software, AOMEI Backupper is worth a shot. This software has both free and paid version for different users. The free version can satisfy user’s the basic needs. The paid version has more useful features and it’s suitable for IT technician.