I wanted to upgrade my old computer. So, I made a new computer, and bought an SSD (Intel 40GB). I did a clean install of Windows 7 on the SSD. I also put my old hard drive (400GB spinner) with all my programs in the computer.

When I boot from the old hard drive (spinner) which still has Windows 7 everything works fine. But, this was a 32-bit version accessing only 3.25GB of RAM, while I have 8GB installed.

When I boot from the SSD it is a 64-bit version of Windows 7 and boots fine. However, my old hard drive (spinner) doesn't allow me to access the programs or data on it.

I basically want to use the SSD just for having Windows and use my old hard drive (spinner) for the programs and data.

Any advice?

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    Remember that you can change your accepted answer at any time. The currently accepted answer contains some very misleading statements. – Mark Booth Jan 4 '12 at 14:16

You're going to have a hard time running programs from a drive different from where you have your OS installed. Really you should only use this for data access and keep programs + OS on the same drive.

When you say you can't access your programs, I believe you. But I don't understand what you mean by not being able to access your data.

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  • Thanks for your response! I was mistaken. I CAN access the data on teh drive but cannot run the programs from the secondary drive. – Caleb Jan 21 '11 at 20:30
  • Then everything is working as expected. You cannot run programs from a drive different than your OS. – th3dude Jan 21 '11 at 20:32
  • Also, don't forget to vote/mark an answer correct so that this question can help others later. Welcome to the community. – th3dude Jan 21 '11 at 20:33
  • Thanks VERY much. Not the answer I WANTED, but as in my business, you gave the correct one. Any idea what size would be decent for running SSD with MS Office, World of Warcraft? – Caleb Jan 21 '11 at 20:47
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    You can run programs from any drive you like! Many programs will only run from the drive they are installed on however, and while the default will be to install a program to your system boot drive, almost all programs have the option to install to any other drive you like (though you may have to select a custom install). – Mark Booth Jan 4 '12 at 12:48

Most programs will only run from a drive they were installed on. Thus, if you take a drive from one computer and put it into another, it is very unlikely that any of the programs will run on the new computer without a lot of hassle. Even for seasoned veterans it is far easier just to install the programs on the new computer.

Moving to a new PC

If you want a relatively painless transition from one computer to another, I would recommend you do the following:

  • On your old PC, make a note of all of the programs that are installed.
  • Back up your old PC.
  • Run the Windows Easy Transfer on the old PC to the large external drive you use for backing up your PC.
  • Install Windows on your new PC.
  • Install all drivers and Windows updates.
  • Install all programs that were on your old PC on your new one.
  • Run the Windows Easy Transfer on the new PC to restore files and settings from the external drive.
  • Back up your new PC.

Note that if you are using programs like iTunes, you may need to do additional steps to transfer your music, DRM or other 'secure' data correctly.

Also note that I would highly recommend keeping your old computer as-is until you are sure everything has transferred across correctly. You don't want to find that you've lost access you all your DRM protected music because you can't 'release' the security on the old PC before you can 'enable' it on the new.

Ideal set-up for a system with a small SSD

There are two real options here, automatic caching or manual management.

You could install your operating system on your hard drive and then use the SSD to cache the hard drive. This solution should allow you to get the benefit of large amounts of storage, but with faster access to the most frequently used files and a minimum of management, but this isn't an option I would recommend.

The alternative is to manually manage your SSD usage.

The simplest option is to install the OS and only the most important applications on your SSD, installing less important programs on your hard drive along with your data.

You can keep large programs off your SSD by simply installing them on another drive. Most programs default to installing to the system boot drive, but you can almost always instruct the installer to install to another drive, though this usually requires you to select a Custom install rather than a Typical install.

Note that if you install a program to a removable drive and then remove it, your computer will will certainly not be able to run that program, and that could result in your computer stopping working.

You can keep large data files (such as video or music) off your SSD by not storing them in your home directory, but by storing them directly on the other drive. All of my music is stored in D:\Music for instance rather than the default location of C:\Users\Me\My Music. Most media software will allow you to access music/video files that are located anywhere on your computer, not just in My Music.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can move all of your user directory off of your SSD by using these instructions over at LifeHacker.

The LifeHacker article uses junction points to make this

When you get to be a real expert at using junctions, then you can start doing things like moving any directory you want to be accelerated from HD to SSD.

An easier way than using command line tools should be a utility like SSD Boost or Folder2Junction but I have no personal experience with either, yet.

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  • This is by far the best answer. – surfasb Jan 4 '12 at 17:49
  • Daily limit FTL. 5 hours. – surfasb Jan 4 '12 at 18:47
  • I not only upvote for correctness, but I also upvote for effort. Concise and thorough answers, even if they aren't 100% correct are more useful than short answers. A comprehensive answer like this with links to external instructions is the most useful type of answers. I regret I have only one vote to give. – surfasb Jan 5 '12 at 2:23

You cannot do what you are trying to do. You can install your programs on your 400 GB drive if you want, but you need to do it while you are running Windows from your SSD. You are not going to get the max out of your SSD if you do that though, since your programs will be loading from the slower 400 GB drive.

I suggest you use your SSD for your main drive. You should install Windows and all your programs on your SSD and use your 400 GB drive as storage for music, documents, pictures, etc. 40 GB is very constrictive though. Unless you don't have many programs to install I would suggest exchanging it (if it isn't too late) for something a little bigger that will give you room to grow.

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  • Thanks for your response! Yes, 40GB IS too small for that, especially since I have to run MS Office and WOW. – Caleb Jan 21 '11 at 20:31
  • Curious...why is is that I cannot run programs off a secondary drive, i.e., does Win 7 require the programs to run from the same drive on which Win 7 is loaded? – Caleb Jan 21 '11 at 20:32
  • Most programs need to access things that are on your primary drive, such as registry values, other programs, and Windows libraries. – th3dude Jan 21 '11 at 20:34
  • @Caleb you CAN run programs off of your secondary drive, but they need to be installed from the installation of Windows that you want to run them from (i.e. if you want to run programs from the installation of Windows on your SSD you need to install the programs while logged into the Windows installation on your SSD). You can install the programs anywhere you want (for instance your secondary hard drive) but the program will not benefit from the speed of your SSD. As th3dude said installation of programs write things such as registry values which your programs need to run properly. – ubiquibacon Jan 21 '11 at 20:54

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