By Ivy / Last Updated March 1, 2021

Transfering files or folders to external storage device is a piece of cake, just copy and paste them. However, when it comes to moving program files, you may feel awkward or exclaimed that this is different from what we imagined. Then, why is this?

Can You Move Program Files to Another Drive

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) are hard-wired into Windows. And there will be some 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 to another location. At this time, you may have a doubt how do I move program files to another drive effortlessly. The most important thing is to make a system image backup, so you can get your computer back without reinstalling Windows. Then, check this article with the anchor text below.

When need to move program files to another drive?

Actually, most programs will be installed in the C: drive if you don't manually change it. Thus, sooner or later, the system partition will run out of space owing to increasingly programs, which will slow down the performance. And the situation may be more serious especially when you install a large amount of software on your computer. It's one of the most important reasons. For details, please check the 2 common situations below.

Situation 1: Move program files to another drive on the same disk

In this case, you may be bothered low disk space warning and performance but only one internal disk. You could consider moving program files and program files (x86) from C drive to D drive or other partition with enough space, then save the newly installed software to new partition 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 already migrate OS to smaller SSD in Windows 7/8/10. To retain better experience, you may want to free up the disk space of your SSD and move program files and program files (x86) from SSD to HDD.

Backup the system just in case

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 backup system first to ensure the security of your computer.

In addition, you need to know 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 normally after moving program files. Also, you may feel boring and time-comsuming if you need to repeat the same operation continuously.

Thus, no matter what you consider, it's wise to backup system with a trust and reliable backup software like free AOMEI Backupper Standard. With just a few clicks, your computer is backed up. And it avoid something irreversible happens by restoring Windows 10 image to new hard drive, even the dissimilar hardware. You need to use "Universal Restore" feature in the advanced version of the freeware - AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Without further ado, let's get started to create a system image for your computer and then move program files to another drive in Windows 10/8/7.

Step 1. Download the free backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard, then install and launch it on your computer. You will see its deep-blue interface

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. Then, click System Backup under the Backup tab. After that, it will automatically choose the C drive and boot-related partition(s) required to boot Windows, such as, system reserved partition, EFI system partition. Also, it will backup recovery partition, program,& program files, personal data on it.

System Backup

Step 3. Here, you only need to select destination partition to store backup image and then click Start Backup.

Select Destination

Wait for a while, and you will have a system image backup of your computer. Then, it's suggested to create a bootable USB, so you can restore computer even when it refuses to boot. You can use CD/DVD, USB drive or directly create an ISO file.

How to move programs files to different drive?

Give up "copy" and "paste", here are 3 ways to help you relocate the program files to another drive. Please remember to create a system image backup first whether you are currently using Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7. It can help you restore system from backup in a very short time.

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. Just run CMD as administrator, type the following command prompt and hit Enter.
• Robocopy "C:\Program Files" "D:\Program Files" /mir
• Robocopy "C:\Program Files (x86)" "D:\Program Files (x86)" /mir

Now, continue to see below. Please note that this method works at the moment of clean install Windows.

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:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

Program Files Path

To Windows 10:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

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. To put it simply, this method change program files location for Windows 10/8/7.

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 soft link mklink/D link target.

To move the whole "C: Program Files" folder to “D: Program Files” folder, you need to type the following in the command prompt window. Then, you can use the C:\Programs Files as the default install path but all the installed files will be stored in D:\Program Files.

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.

Mklink

Note: 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.

Also, you can use mklink /J link target (called hard link) to makes the files or folders appears as if it actually exist at the location of the symbolic link. Based on the above example, you can type as mklink /J “Program Files” “D: Program Files”.

If you want to delete the old program files, you can use “mklink /j” link together with the full drive letter and path of the old and new locations of the program files.

Tip: The same is true for how to move program files from SSD to HDD, you just need to connect your HDD disk to your computer. 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: Move installed program to another drive using “Move” feature

This feature not only move program from C drive to D drive, but also can relocate program files. Just tri it yourself.

Step 1. Go to start menu > Settings > System > Apps & features, then you will see a list programs.

Apps Features

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.

How to move Stream Games to another drive?

Except for entire program files folder, some users just want to move the stream games in the program files, just like the following case. And the migration method will be included later, please scroll down to check.

"I'm on windows 10, and I need to move that folder to my D drive. I have been told that copy pasting it won't work, and I will need to delete and redownload it. This is a probelm because the file is over 36 GB, and most of them are my steam games. Is there any other way to do this?"

Step 1. Go to the location of your Steam library. If you aren’t sure, you can check this infomation at the Properties of the Steam shortcut.

Step 2. Shutdown the Stream games, then copy and paste the entire Stream Folder to the new location, here is D:\Stream\ folder.

Step 3. Wait until the process completes, you can start to rerun Stream.exe from the new location.

Tip: It's suggest to reinstall the Stream.exe first, which will will update all your shorcuts. You can go to steampowered.com, then click Install Stream at the upper right corner to download the installer and select the new location as destination folder, here is D:\Stream\, at last, please rerun the Strean.

Install Stream Destination Location

Conclusion

With the help of free backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard, you can rest assured to move program files to another drive Windows 10/8/7. It greatly reduces the risk of system crash or data loss, and gives you a chance to restore computer without reinstalling Windows. And it will keep everything as it were.

Also, you can use it to schedule automatic backup Windows 10 later by its daily/weekly/monthly schedule settings or advanced settings like USB plug in AOMEI Backupper Professional.

To move program files to different drive, you can get three useful methods, namely, using Registry Editor, mklink, or Move feature. If you just want to move the Stream Games that take up much disk space of your C: drive, you can still change it location to a new one and rerun the Stream.exe application.