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Currently I have two hard drives: C (120gb SSD) and E (500gb SSD). I had been using C for Windows and small utilities, while larger programs (games mostly) are installed on E.

I would like to wipe my C drive and reinstall a fresh copy of Windows, but I would like to find a way to use my programs on the E drive afterwards without re-downloading and installing ~350gb of software. I'd love a program or hidden Windows feature that would add registry entries for the software installed on E once the new Windows is installed.

Note: I'm using Windows 8.1 Pro x64 and will be re-installing using a Windows 8 key and upgrading to 8.1.

Hopefully this is possible, and any help/advice is much appreciated.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you were to wipe your C: drive and Windows installation, you may be able to use the programs on your E: drive. It all depends on how those programs were written.

Some programs were developed without the need for registry entries or configuration files that would normally be located on the C: drive. However, these tend to be the more simple programs, such as text editors. More complex programs will require these objects, however some programs will recreate them at launch if they are missing. Typically, they revert to their default settings and any customizations you made would be gone.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know which programs can operate this way, without digging through manuals, forums, SU, etc...

You could make backup images your C: and E: drives with CloneZilla and then wipe your C: drive, do a clean install and test each program. Depending on the number of applications, that could take a while. If it turned out that too many of the programs didnt not function, you could then restore your C: and E: drives. Obviously, restoring C: returns your original OS, but restoring E: would restore any settings that were changed to the E: drive.

Now as for a program to do this for you, I believe several "installer" and "uninstaller" programs are capable of tracking all the changes during a program's installation and export those settings, however since they werent used during the original installation, you are most likely out of luck.

In the future, I would suggest making several images. Install a fresh copy of Windows and update it. Then take an image. That way, you will always have a clean copy of Windows to restore to. This is much faster than installing. Then install your applications, customizations, and updates. Then take a another image. This allows you to restore to an image with your OS and applications in a "clean" state.

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Thanks, I guess I'll just have to try it and see. – brack Nov 10 '13 at 22:20

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