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Automatically changing program install paths

By Turkk
Sep 23, 2006
  1. By default, programs install to the same drive that the currently running OS is installed on. What I'm trying to do, is to tell it to install programs to another drive/partition.

    This way, if I needed to reformat and reinstall the OS, the bulk of my programs will remain intact.

    I've read other forums and they've given skeptical answers to indicate that it can't be done, but I figured I'd pose the question here myself.
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,512   +65

    You're right to be skeptical.

    Start > Run > regedit.exe

    Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

    Change the value of "ProgramFilesDir" to the desired path. Default is C:\Program Files, where C: is the drive your Windows install exists on. I have mine set to D:\Program Files, for example.
  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,512   +65

    Keep in mind - in the event you lose your Windows install - software that integrates with the system such as Office and anti-virus software will not run. They need to be reinstalled.

    Also, many applications include their setting and configuration data in C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Application Data and/or Local Settings, not to mention the registry and other places on the system. So it may be worthwhile for you to backup this data or even change the path to that as well.

    Games and simple software often run quite fine though.
  4. Turkk

    Turkk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yea, mostly games are what I had in mind.

    I always move the My Documents folder to a completely different physical drive upon each OS installation (I've been reformatting a lot lately due to instablity with recent hardware upgrades).

    I've gotten into the habit of keeping multiple, up-to-date copies of select Application Data--most importantly, Firefox browser data. Switching between a laptop and desktop regularly, I also am able to perodically sync the two systems with the same bookmarks, cookies, saved passwords, and the like.

    I've heard there's a way to do it remotely with FireFox so you can import them from anywhere, but for this particular purpose I'm more comfortable keeping the information in my grasp.
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