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There is no safe way to move program files to another drive without reinstalling; but it may be possible to free up some drive space in another way.

I have a new system now which includes a solid state drive, 60 GB, where I've placed the Win 7 operating system. And a one-TB drive for programs. There are some programs that are not giving me the option of installing to the one-TB drive. Thus, I'm filling up the solid state.

Question: is there a way to move the programs off of the solid state drive to the 1 TB drive? Or do I need to reinstall the programs and tell them to install to the 1 TB drive? These are downloadable programs; none are with discs that are giving me the problem. Such as IncrediMail, IncrediMail backup, Garmin loader, Logitech Remote, Quickbooks and a few others. I'll be ever in your debt to resolve this.

In this excerpt from Answercast #6, I discuss the steps needed to reinstall programs to another drive, and then look at other options for freeing up space so you don't have to.

You can't move programs

Well, I'm afraid you're not going to be in my debt, because there really is no good solution for this. If a program does not give you the option of installing on another drive, it's going to install where it installs. And there's no safe way to change that.

So, what I would make sure is: when you install programs, always make sure to choose the "Custom Option" if it's available, or anything that is not a default option. Make sure that you choose all of the options the setup program allows you to choose.

If, in there, you can set up a different install path, do so. If that's not offered as an option, then there is no reasonable solution to move the program; to force the program to install somewhere other than where it's going to install. To answer the first part of your question, no, there's no safe way to move things from one drive to another.

There are utilities that will, presumably, move things from one PC to another (Laplink PC Mover comes to mind), but I don't believe that it's necessarily helpful for moving software from one drive to another. Especially if that software is not written to be installed on something other than the system drive.

Free up drive space

The real problem here is that you are running out of space on your system drive, which I'm going to refer to as your C: drive, since most people install it to C:. What you should be looking at then is potentially moving other things off the C: drive.

For example, you can look into moving My Documents from C: to your D: (or your one-TB drive). That would allow you to move a lot of stuff off the C: drive. There's actually a lot of stuff that's stored inside of My Documents that could potentially save you some space on C:.

Similarly, if you have enough RAM in your machine, you could look at turning off the paging file and then simply deleting pagefile.sys from the root of the C: drive.

In that same vein, if you never use hibernation, make sure the hibernation is turned off; at which point, you can delete the hiberfile.sys from the root of your C: drive. Both of those files (pagefile.sys and hiberfile.sys) are going to be hidden files. In other words, you're not going to see them unless you turn on "Show Hidden" in system files in Windows Explorer, but once you've turned off the features that require them, you can then delete those files.

Move temporary files

Now, at a trade-off of some of the speed that you're wanting out of your SSD, you can also start looking at moving the location of your temporary files. There are a couple of approaches to doing that. I have articles about moving your temporary file location and I have an article about moving My Documents.

So, I'm going to point you at both of those. The other thing that I would do is to take a look at just what is using up all of the space on that C: drive and seeing if any of it is something you can safely back up and remove. For example, all of the uninstall files for updates.

Normally, I suggest leaving those alone because they allow you to uninstall updates, should you ever have a need. In a case like this (where you're actually being space constrained on that C: drive), it might make sense to copy them somewhere else. You might actually copy them to that one-TB drive.

Save them there so that they're not deleted. But then delete them from the C: drive to free up the space. If you ever need them, if you ever need them to uninstall one of the updates, you would then copy them back, copy them all back, and then perform the uninstall that you need to perform. It's unlikely that you'll ever need to do that, so it may end up being a fairly safe way to free up some space as well.

Take a look at what else is on that C drive and see if there are some things that you can recognize as being users of space that can either be deleted or moved elsewhere.

Next - Where did all these Windows photo gallery pictures come from?

Article C5163 - April 3, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
Gordon
April 4, 2012 7:20 AM

You might be able to use some hard linking (or symbolic linking... I don't remember which is what you'd want in this case) to trick the OS into thinking a certain program folder is on the C drive, while the actual files are on the other drive. I haven't done this, but I've looked into it a few times, and I think with some research it should be doable.

Lord Rayne
April 6, 2012 9:10 AM

What about using the "compress this drive to save disk space" on the C drive properties dialog box?

This article talks about that: Should I use Windows File Compression?
Leo
06-Apr-2012
nytibcp
April 6, 2012 10:20 AM

Even if you don't have enough RAM to run without a paging file, it's easy enough to move the paging file to another drive to save space on your system drive. Go to Control Panel | System & Security | System | Advanced System Settings. Choose the Advanced tab and under Performance click the Settings button. Again choose the Advanced tab and under Virtual Memory click the Change button. You can now highlight your C: drive and click the button below for No Paging File. Then highlight the drive where you want your paging file, and click the button for System Managed Size. OK your way back out. You'll have to reboot to have the changes take effect.

flatom
April 6, 2012 10:56 AM

I moved Documents and Settings, which includes the temp folders, to another partition on the same disk a couple years ago. When the system drive gets corrupted I can now restore an image without reverting to an image's older Documents and Settings. The Desktop is stored in that folder, too. Restoring an image is now a painless 10 minute process without the need to update anything done since the image was made except to reinstall newer software. It's not that hard to move D&S.

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