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Windows 7 (Ultimate, 32-bit) automatically selects the drive and folder to install programs into. How do I access/change the default? I have a small, 10K RPM drive which I would like to limit to the OS and OS buffers. When I install applications, such as Office, Quicken, etc., I do not get the option to direct WHERE they should be installed - they simply default to "C:" with the OS.

Can I change this default?

Can I direct "My Documents" to an alternate location as well?

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While it is quite possible to designate a specific folder or drive during the installation of a program, I'm thinking that you're noticing the default behavior of most installers. What's going on is that an installer is going to be looking for the default location of the 'program files' folder which is usally located on C:. There are also other common locations such as the users data folder and the actual 'my documents' folder that these installers are looking for.

Installation anywhere but the programs file folder may cause some issues down the road. Drivers maybe missing, shared resources may not be found in the correct places, and some applications actually look for a hard coded reference to the c:\program folder path.

I would recommend not changing the installation path of most applications just because of this issue.

For changing the 'my documents' location you might want to read this article. Windows Vista works in much the same way as Windows 7, so changing the 'my documents' folder should be no problem. One thing to keep in mind is that Windows 7 no longer considers folders to be folders anymore. They are now libraries and can actually be located anywhere on a machine and are virtually group together under the 'documents' folder on Windows 7.

Hope helps some.

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Try this:
(I am in no way responsible for any catastrophic OS failures that result from this :P)

Boot up in safe mode.

Rename "Program Files" to, say, "Frogram Piles".

Open a cmd prompt and navigate to c:\

type mklink /J "Program Files" "D:\Program Files" (The latter path can be anything, depending on drive and naming preferences)

Copy the contents of Frogram Piles to D:\Program Files (or wherever).

Reboot, and hope.

If all goes well, C:\Program Files should transparently link to your alternate drive to any, and every application, as Vista and 7 fully support NTFS symlinks. If it doesn't work, try and boot back into safe mode and replace it, if that doesn't work, replace everything in a linux LiveCD, and if that doesn't work... please don't sue me :)

(But I'm pretty sure it'll work, if you can get windows to let you rename program files)

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Despite what others have said you should be OK changing the installation path of software, if you have the option. It was true in the past that software (and its installation) was badly written and often had hard coded paths. However, newer programs will cope.

I don't really know why Office doesn't allow you to change the installation location - I can't believe Microsoft are that bad at writing software, unless there's some ancient relic at the heart of Office that can't be moved from it's default location.

I've just found this blog post which outlines a process that involves changing the registry.

In HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion change ProgramFilesDir from C:\Program Files to your desired location.

NOTE I haven't tried this so I don't know if it does work, but it seems likely that it would.

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Moving the My Documents folder

  • Click on the Start button and then click on Documents
  • In the left panel of the Libraries\Documents window, click on the arrows to expand Libraries>Documents>My Documents (C:\Users[User Name])
  • Right click on My Documents and then click on Properties in the menu that opens.
  • In the My Documents Properties window, click on the Location tab
  • Click on the Move button in the Location tab of the My Documents Properties window
  • Navigate in the Select a Destination window to the location where you would like the My Documents folder located
  • Create a new folder. Name it whatever you would like.
  • Click on the Select Folder button and then click on the OK button in the My Documents Properties window.
  • Click on the Yes button in the Move Folder warning window that pops up, since the objective is to move the My Documents folder.
  • It may take some time to move the contents of the My Documents folder, so be patient...
  • When it has finished moving the contenets of the My Documents folder, you can close the Libraries > Documents window

You are done!


As for the Office alternative installation path, I'm not sure if that is possible, perhaps someone else will know.

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