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I want to install my applications not on C but on D drive.
Reason - after reinstalling Windows, I don't want to reinstall all the applications again.
But, I'm not sure is there any issue about this approach ?
Applications are: MS Office 2010, Adobe CS, WAMP server, Avast...
So idea is - Windows on C, Program Files on D, and Documents on E partition.

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2 Answers 2

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You can do that, but after re-installing Windows, any RegistryKey from installed applications will be lost. With some applications you will be able to save and restore them (except when you install as update), but most of them will create too many keys in different places.

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Hm... Thanks bummi. I will see –  Alegro Nov 29 '12 at 6:58

Your question is really a two-part use-case scenario question:

Part A) Can I install all my Apps to the D (or any other drive) instead of C?

and

Part B) Can I then re-install Windows (from scratch) again (at a later date) on the C drive and NOT have to re-install all the Apps again since they were first installed on a different drive.

Answer to Part A:

YES.. you can installed all your applications to any available drive:\path\to\your\apps location you wish, provided you have enough free space AND the Application Installer (setup.exe) allows you to change the default installation path from "C:\Program Files" to something else.. like "D:\Program Files" for example... Almost all setup programs allow you to select "Custom" as a setup choice to change the install drive:\path location.

HOWEVER..

Answer to Part B:

NO.. Re-installing Windows again from scratch on the C: (or any drive for that matter) will break all your pre-installed programs on any drive from before:

You see... there is a BIG Gotcha with how Apps are installed on Windows... and that is The Registry!!

Almost ALL Windows apps (Especially the big ones you listed; Office, Adobe, Avast) require all the "installation path information and program modules and dlls and settings" to be recorded in the Registry.. and we are talking about many 100's (even thousands) of registry entries that store the full Drive:\path\to\app location and program run-time entries that are read/written from/to the Registry all the time.

Another technical reason is that most commercial windows apps have to install special types of support DLL code-files that contain "COM Objects" that MUST be fully registered in the Registry at Program Setup/Install time.

.. and ONLY the Setup Program for each application creates these essential Registry entries required for windows to know about the program and how to run it.

So.. if you Re-install Windows from scratch again to... you are effectively deleting the old Registry and therefor deleting any ability for those pre-installed apps on your D: drive to run even though you can still find them on your D: drive manually (Using Windows Explorer; aka My Computer) and try to run them.. they simply won't work as expected.

There is also the issue of "License Keys and Program Activation" with software packages like Office and Adobe, etc, etc... all the Activated License Keys are often stored in the Registry by the Setup Program and/or License Manager... and when you re-install Windows you are effectively deleted the permanent record of those installed applications being licensed and activated.

Microsoft assumes that once you Install (and Activate) your Windows Operating System on a computer that you will only ever:

A) Perform a possible "restore existing installation of windows" using the install disk; in case of file or registry corruption

or

b) Perform a possible "Upgrade" to a newer version of Windows "ON TOP" of your previous licensed copy of Windows on the same C drive.. which will Preserve all your installed programs so they still work after the windows upgrade;

Both of the above restore/upgrade completely "preserves" Your Registry with all the install paths to all your apps as well as all the settings and license/activation keys you need to keep running the same programs you already installed.

A perfect Example of an Upgrade process is From 32bit Windows 7 to 32bit Windows 8

The 32bit versus 64bit Registry is also one of the primary reasons why it is NOT possible to perform a "Windows Upgrade Install" from an existing 32 Bit version of Windows 7 on your C drive to a 64 Bit version of Windows 7 on the same C drive and have all your pre-installed programs just continue to work regardless of which hard drive you installed them to.

In theory it "might" be possible to "backup" your Registry after you have all your Service Packs, Windows Updates, Drivers and Applcations intalled... and then restore that Registry after you "Re-install" windows.. but trust me.. that process is MUCH MORE complex then simply re-installing your apps again!

Alternate Solution to what you would like to do:

Start learning how to use "Virtual Machine" software like VMWare Player (free) or Oracle Virtual Box (free).

Good Luck!

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Thanks a lot for your time, Heston, very useful for me. –  Alegro Nov 30 '12 at 14:18

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