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My OS is Windows 7. When I want to install applications, I choose a drive which is different than the one where my OS is installed. For example, I only have Windows 7 installed on C:, and I install programs or games on D:.
I believe that installing applications on C: will make the used space very large, and as a result that my system will become slower.
A friend of mine does not share this opinion. He thinks that all applications and games can be installed on C:.

Is there a definite answer on this matter? What are the pros and cons of each solution?

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closed as not constructive by random Sep 8 '12 at 14:26

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Sadly, my experienece has been that Windows applications often have issues with running from anyplace other than C:. Some developers don't realize that you could have a system drive that isn't C:, e.g. on a multi-boot system. Sigh. –  HABO Sep 8 '12 at 11:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There isn't a definitive answer.

Here's some pros to start with:

If you install in C:\Program Files, you benefit from write protection for Standard Users which gives you some protection from malicious or accidental modification.

Microsoft tend to test standard configurations. Moving default locations can reveal obscure bugs.

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+1 for comment on the security aspect. –  TFM Sep 8 '12 at 13:13

Executive Summary:

I just don't see any obvious reasons for any significant performance gains with placing the games on a second drive....


This really seems to come down to the amount of disk space that you have available? How large is the hard drive? How much space will eventually be used? And how many applications will you be using at the same time?

  • Rule of Thumb 1, make sure you have at least:
    • 5-15% of the total disk space free on the hard drive. (I aim for 10%)
    • or at least 20 GB of total disk free

Yes, this is excessive, especially with Terrabyte sized drives, but it helps ensure there is enough space for swap space, and everything else... As long as your free disk space is kept reasonably high, it shouldn't impact your swap space requirements...

Performance decreases unbelievably fast, if you run too low on disk space.

Are your hard drives, SATA or IDE? If they are IDE, then keep in mind that often IDE can only process one hard drive at a time? So if there was a request for C & D, then the D request would be Queued until the first request finished...

I just reviewed IDE via our friend Wikipedia, and I am correct. See Serialized, overlapped, and queued operations at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_Drive_Electronics. But to summarize...

The parallel ATA protocols up through ATA-3 require that once a command has been given on an ATA interface, it must complete before any subsequent command may be given. Operations on the devices must be serialized—with only one operation in progress at a time—with respect to the ATA host interface. A useful mental model is that the host ATA interface is busy with the first request for its entire duration, and therefore can not be told about another request until the first one is complete. The function of serializing requests to the interface is usually performed by a device driver in the host operating system ....... However, support for these is extremely rare in actual parallel ATA products and device drivers because these feature sets were implemented in such a way as to maintain software compatibility with its heritage as originally an extension of the ISA bus.

So, if you have SATA based hard drives, you would certainly see a performance boost with having your applications on a second drive... But I suspect it would only be a few percentage points, unless your boot drive was in constant demand for some reason...

Now, here's I am moving into slightly dangerous territory...

In my opinion, There is only a few good reasons for splitting your software like this.

  1. Your low on disk space on your boot drive
  2. Your boot drive is a SSD and your concerned about longevity
  3. Your running Linux or Mac OS X, And you want to separate your software from the OS.
  4. There is data that needs to be kept separate from some reason (organization, sensitivity, etc).

Number 3 is easy to understand, with Linux and the Mac OS, you can reinstall the OS, and immediately use the software on another drive... Because the software doesn't have registry files that need added....

With Windows, you would need to reinstall your application before you could use it... So, unless your low on disk space, or worried about SSD life space, than I am not sure how I would justify installing the games on the second hard drive. I just don't see any obvious reasons for any significant performance gains with placing the games on a second drive

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