For example, if I were to break up applications in such a way that games go to C:\Games\, development ones go to C:\Dev and etc, is this wise?

I know that it can be done and is quite a common practice, but what I'm wondering is, taking security and compatibility into view, is this still a good practice? For example, the default 'Program Files' folder has a different set of permissions such that programs require admin privileges to write to the directory when UAC is running. As for compatibility, what's the prevalence of badly written programs having a hardcoded install/look up path failing to work?

Also, what if I lumped 32-bit and 64-bit applications together, instead of separating them out as window does with two different installation paths? Will I induce problems with programs looking up and loading wrong dlls?


Windows detects the 32/64-bitness from the executable, so a 32-bit binary can be installed anywhere.

The reason for the two Program Files directories is mainly to eliminate the risk of having both 32-bit and 64-bit installs of the same program present, and their installation files creating conflicts and/or performance problems.

If this risk doesn't exist in your case, you can install any product into any directory, provided that its installer has such an option.

Whether it will work is another question that depends on the installer. Usually it works well, although sometimes one encounters products whose directory cannot be changed. But this has become quite rare and should not really be considered. But I wouldn't change the installation directory of any mastodon such as Microsoft Office that has too many places to go wrong.

Another issue is that it will be quite hard to duplicate the permissions setup of Program Files outside of this directory. However, if you have a good anti-intrusion product this should not be a problem.

But all in all, my advice would be to always follow system conventions without adventuring too much, since some products might assume that you do.


It's not 'unwise', the Program Files directory is used to prevent clutter, and easily locate program executables.

However, installing games to C:\Games is perfectly valid and I've done something similar. Nothing wrong with it.

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