I have built a computer for a user that asked me for "speed": an SSD was the obvious solution because what he means by speed is "fast boot time".

This solved the problem, however the user is not smart enough to remember that he must install programs on D rather than C (c is the ssd, D is an raid 1 hdd).

The only solution that comes in my mind is changing programfiles variable such that will point to D rather than C by default.

Otherwise, other solutions are ok but I really can't find anything else at the moment.

Does anyone have recommendations for how to accomplish changing the default installation directory in Windows?

1 Answer 1


Use regedit. There is a setting in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion called ProgramFilesDir. This changes the default in Win XP to whatever you want. Typical warnings of: may have unintended consequences are in effect for a change like this... Windows Update is probably affected.

I'm not at my win 7 machine to check but I bet it's the same reg key. As with any reg edit, back it up by saving a copy before making changes to it.

Edit: got curious about win 7 and remembered that 64-bit OS has 2 program file folders (one is called x86.) So, you'll have more folders to change in Win 7. This link is to a thread discussing someone that had the same question.. It's worth reading because they raise valid points. Good luck.

  • will windows update keep working? Nov 12, 2011 at 0:27
  • Read this for microsofts official answer: support.microsoft.com/kb/933700 basically it's a 'you can do it, but we won't support it.' Nov 12, 2011 at 0:36
  • 1
    Another thought, some updates or service packs could change this setting back. Ive seen similar behavior from Microsoft in the past. Usually they force defaults when they know it will affect whatever is being installed -or- its a big patch that affects functionality and acts like a new application entirely (SPs do this from time to time) Nov 12, 2011 at 0:44
  • Does this answer your question or were you looking for more? Nov 12, 2011 at 0:53

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