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    How to Transfer Program Folders to Another Drive in Windows 10

    Despite the fact that modern computers put drives of at least 512 gigabytes, in practice, this vast space is not used. Notebook makers love dividing the hard drive into several logical drives, giving drive C: extremely little space, and non-system D: everything else. And the problem is: the disk is large, but there is no place to install programs!

    Also, laptops in the price range of 35-50 thousand rubles have found great popularity, in which two physical disks are installed: a capacious HDD (512 – 1024 GB) and a small SSD (64 – 128 GB). The first is a classic hard drive, slow and noisy. The second is a solid-state drive, which in essence is a very, very fast flash drive. The system installed on the SSD, run really really fast, in just a few seconds. But because of this organization of files, the C: drive is small and you need to transfer something to a slow HDD – documents that are rarely used by programs.

    The easiest and safest option when the programs are already installed and you don’t feel like messing with the computer is to transfer part of the data to another, more free disk so that nothing breaks.


    What takes up the most space?

    The heaviest folders on the C: drive are usually:

    1. C:\Windows – the directory of the installed operating system. There is nothing to delete there, although the size can be reduced using the “compact/compactos: always” command on the command line launched as administrator. This can halve the space occupied by Windows, I would not recommend getting carried away like that – responsiveness can be reduced, especially on PCs with a slow processor, any unnecessary compression/decompression operation will consume too many resources. Cannot be transferred. 
    2. C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files (x86) – most applications are installed here, specifically 32-bit applications. 
    3. C:\Users (the Users folder) – this is where the files of computer users are stored: documents, images, and desktop contents. Such directories can be transferred using Windows by opening the properties of such directories and using the Location tab. In Windows 10, you can not tinker with the properties of folders, but go to Start – Settings – System – Device memory – Change the storage location for new content and select another drive, the system will transfer the data itself, but not all. 
    4. C:\Users\Username\AppData – this folder, hidden by default, can take up a lot of space because in its wilds browser caches, game saves and service files of different programs are stored. It is undesirable to transfer all of it, although folders with caches can be moved. However, you can not bother with the transfer, but with the help of CCleaner or other programs to clean the disk periodically delete unnecessary files. Especially those stored in the C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Temp folder – a lot of garbage accumulates there. 
    5. C:\ProgramData – a hidden directory that stores program settings common to all Windows users. Do not touch.

    So, we don’t touch the Windows folder, we need to deal with C: \ Users according to the circumstances, but installed programs from C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files (x86) can be transferred, the instructions for which are below.


    Using the FreeMove Open Source Program

    There is a simple and safe way to transfer folders with installed software to another disk so that even the labels do not have to be changed – the free utility FreeMove creates symbolic links to folders.

    1. Download FreeMove.exe from the official GitHub page.

    Download FreeMove from GitHub

    2. Make the “Program files” and “Program Files (x86)” folders on the D: drive (or another, depending on where there is free space). You don’t have to create anything inside.

    3. Run the downloaded FreeMove utility as administrator.

    4. In the program that opens, use the Browse buttons to select what and where you want to transfer.

    transfer program folders to another drive, How to Transfer Program Folders to Another Drive in Windows 10


    5. Click the Move button to start the transfer. After a successful transfer, get the message “Done”.

    • If the “destination folder doesn’t exist” error appears, it means that the non-existing folder as indicated in the “To:” field.
    • The error “You do not have the required privileges to move the directory. … ” means that the program was launched not on behalf of the administrator.

    6. Repeating steps 4-5, transfer the remaining program folders in turn. By the way, the “Program Files” folder itself cannot be transferred due to possible problems, only the directories of individual programs are inside. The author has built-in “protection against the fool”, so it cannot transfer system directories.


    What FreeMove Does?

    This software creates symbolic links – special filesystem objects that work with pointers to a directory or file. Unlike the usual shortcut, which massively clutters the Desktops, symlinks from the point of view of programs are no different from ordinary folders and files. Therefore, for a seamless transfer of directories from SSD to HDD, they are best suited.

    A symbolic link can point to a non-existent object, nothing bad will happen – when you try to open, an error will appear from the absence of the file. And if you delete the link, then the folder or file that it points to will not be deleted.

    Essentially, FreeMove does the same as the mklink system program but provides users with a convenient interface.


    How to Return Back?

    Since essentially the shortcuts are created in the source directories, which the system will follow to another disk to start the programs, you can delete these shortcuts and manually transfer the originals back.



    Alternative Methods

    1. In order not to clutter up the C: drive, when installing the software, you can specify which folder on which drive to put it. Alas, there are programs that normally work only when installed on the C: drive in a strictly predefined directory. For example, programs from Adobe like Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Premiere begin to fail when trying to install on another drive. Therefore, the usual installation on a different partition does not always save.

    2. You can resize logical drives by “biting off” a piece from a larger one and transferring it to a smaller one. There are many free programs and well-paid ones for working with disk partitions. The problem is that there is still a chance that during the expansion of the C drive: the light turns off, something freezes and then all the data is lost. Is there a risk that the C: drive will become larger? I think no.

    3. Buying a new hard drive with a larger capacity is the most ultimate option. And if it is an SSD, then everything will be gorgeous. Alas, it costs money and you have to solve the issue of installing Windows.

    Conclusion: creating symbolic (“soft”) links using the FreeMove utility or the mklink command is the most easily implemented way to free up space on the system disk. Of course, provided that there is room for transfer.

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