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Background: I have Windows XP and Windows 7 on the same machine, on different partitions. Thus, I can perform operations on either OS while said OS is not running.

Terminology: "XP:", "7:" and "Data:" will be used instead of the actual partition letters, for clarity. (All partitions are on the same HD. The Data: partition has plenty of room)


  1. Cut and paste "Documents and Settings", "Program Files" and "WINDOWS" from "XP:" to "Data:\Windows XP\".

  2. Make symbolic links:

    1. XP:\Documents and Settings\->Data:\WindowsXP\Documents and Settings\
    2. XP:\Program Files\->Data:\WindowsXP\Program Files\
    3. XP:\WINDOWS\->Data:\Windows XP\WINDOWS\.
  3. Restart into XP. This, naturally, is the critical and most important step to be able to do. :)

  4. Optional: Shrink the XP: partition down to about 20 GB, using something that will preserve the data on the partition.

  5. Optional: Add the saved space onto the Data: partition.

  6. I now hopefully have Windows XP working "off the data partition", with quite a bit of "space" to install my programs, movies, music, projects and etc..

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Never tried it personally, but I'm sure 99.99% you won't be able to move the Windows directory with a Junction link.

That is because many of those files, including the kernel itself, are required at bootup, before the file system driver is even loaded.

I also see no mention of Windows 7, so I am unsure of your final result. Are you planning to Windows 7 to use these same folders?? That would be a no go as Windows 7 uses a different format for the user profiles.

This also may play havoc with Programs in Program Files which install differently depending on whether you are installing XP or Windows 7.

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+1. The bootloader has a simple NTFS driver built in, but that doesn't support advanced features like writing, let alone symbolic links. – MSalters Jan 10 '12 at 10:25
There's also the problem that XP doesn't support symlinks, though junctions should work for the Profiles and Programs folders. – afrazier Jan 10 '12 at 11:36
One can just edit the bootloader's configuration to move \WINDOWS, can't they? – grawity Jan 10 '12 at 11:57
@grawity: That is true. Forgot about that. – surfasb Jan 10 '12 at 14:27
Windows 7 would be the platform from which I make these changes. – Narf the Mouse Jan 10 '12 at 17:33

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