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I have Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and my personal folder X:\Users\{myusername} is full of folders starting with . which are used to store some configs/data of several applications.

Some examples are:

.gems, .nbi, .netbeans, .RubyMine20, .ssh, .sshterm, .VirtualBox

Is there a way to change this globally or is it a per-app configuration? Why can't just those apps use the AppData folder...?

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Great question. Its question I have asked myself too. Maybe I will be able to find out why. – SgtOJ Dec 1 '10 at 6:19
You use Internet Explorer? Maybe 8? – SgtOJ Dec 1 '10 at 6:25
@Brian I'm not sure how IE version is relevant here – Sathya Dec 1 '10 at 6:45
I am not sure if it is. In my case it is. In my folder there is an cache folder along with 3 other data files. These files where created months ago for a java app running via IE. – SgtOJ Dec 1 '10 at 6:48
I do have IE8 installed... don't know what that has to do with this. I mean, I have those programs (Netbeans, RubyMine, VirtualBox, etc) storing their config/data in my user folder root and I don't like that =P – emzero Dec 1 '10 at 18:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most of these seem to be *nix based tools which make use of Home directory to store configs. *nix has home directory on a per-user basis, and Windows echoes the home directory to your \Users\<user-name>

Is there a way to change this globally or is it a per-app configuration?

It's a per-app config, and AFAIK there's no way to change this.

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Just beat me to it. I was in the process of type in my answer when you posted yours. Thanks for the answer. – SgtOJ Dec 1 '10 at 7:03
@Brian you're welcome! Fell free to add an answer if you feel I've missed out on something – Sathya Dec 1 '10 at 16:26
@Saythya- You were correct. Posted another answer explaining your work since comments didn't provide enough room. – SgtOJ Dec 1 '10 at 18:29
Thanks for noticing that most of them are *nix based apps... I liked your explanation =) – emzero Dec 1 '10 at 19:01

I have nothing new. Sathya is right on both parts. He just didn't explain it in detail. Let me explain his answer a little. It's too much for comments so I post it as a second answer...

What causes it? Windows's environment variable such as: %homepath%. For Windows 7 and Vista, the variable points to the user's profile root folder at - C:\Users\<<UsersName>>. However, when on a Windows XP system it points to C:\Documents and Setttings\<UserName>>. Keep in mind the drive letter is part of the whole variable.

Environment variable were created to improve compatibility between different OS. More about them can be found at this Wikipedia site.

How is it control? it is control by the application. For compatibility reasons, the programmer uses variables instead of hard-code paths in there code . So, the only way you can change the location is via registry that allows you to change the path for %homepath%. This is not recommend because it could have ill effects on programs that has already depended on the location of the folder.

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Thanks, the %homepath% var is the "problem" and yes, If I cd %homepath% it goes to my user folder. Of course I won't touch it. So I'll have to live with that =( – emzero Dec 1 '10 at 19:01

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