I have been dealing with a few problems while installing Windows 8 on my computer. On my old configuration, I had Windows 7 installed on my 60 GB SSD, and my programs and user data on my 1TB HDD, thanks to relative links.

Yet, while installing Windows 8 on my SSD, it made a small partition on my HDD called "System Reserved".

I read a lot about optimizing Windows 8 for SSD, putting Users on another drive, and very similar situation that didn't quite correspond to what I was trying to achieve.

Here's what I tried:

  • http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/4275-user-profiles-relocate-another-partition-disk.html Booting on Audit mode and using an XML to relocate Users didn't work as the specified version in the file is a test one, and I don't what to enter if I'm using RTM.

  • Booting with the install DVD in repair mode to do a copy of the User and create a relative link, resulting in an error on the logon screen while entering my password saying that "The profile can't be load" (average translation of my error from French to English)

Do anyone know how to do a clean separated install of Windows 8, with the OS on one drive and data on a second drive?

  • The process is exactly the same. The underline OS of Windows 8 is still Windows 7. There are just new UI elements that is the major difference. So the steps you go through to get to the same interface options might be slightly different. – Ramhound Oct 18 '12 at 13:35
  • I tryied to run on repair mode to do a regular copy from my SSD where the OS is located to my HDD, delete the old files then create the relative links thanks to xcopy and mlink, but on startup, I have an error while trying to log-on (Impossible to load the user profile). Either the process is a little bit more difficult on Windows 8, or I missed a step, which could be more than probable. – Foe Oct 18 '12 at 14:33

I would install Windows as normal, and use the features available to move part of the user folders off of the SSD, but not the entire Users folder.

Using this technique, I would move the largest folders like Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos and Saved Games.

Downloads Folder Location

That is I would right click on the the folder, click the Location tab, and then use the Move... button.

For desktop programs, I would install them as normal, but making sure to change C:\ to D:\ (D:\ being the slower drive) in the install path.

For Windows Store apps, it's been suggested that by using symlinks, we can get those apps off of the system drive, but I haven't (won't) tested this.

I might also move the temp folders off of the SSD by changing the Envionment Variables in System Properties (Advanced tab).

I would keep App Data on the faster drive, as well as the pagefile, unless you can't afford the space.

  • I've tried to relocate Modern UI app folder, but they are way too many entries in the registry referring to %SYSTEMFOLDER%, so moving "Program Files" and using relative links breaks the whole Modern UI thing (crash while loading apps and the store notifying the computer don't have the specs). I guess we will need to wait until we get the whole picture about how Windows 8 work. Anyway, your solution to move users largest folder is quite good, and I'll just have to manually install my program on my second drive. Too bad we can't do nothing for these Modern UI apps yet. – Foe Oct 23 '12 at 17:58

Back in Windows 7 days, I managed this through going into regedit,opening HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, (this might sound dodgy, but it worked) searching "C:\Program Files (x86)" and "C:\Program Files", replacing those values with "D:\Program Files (x86)" and "D:\Program Files".

As for Users, I forgot (teehee~).

I am about to upgrade to Windows 8, and am searching for that orignal guide right now.

EDIT: Found it: http://www.overclock.net/t/1156654/seans-windows-7-install-optimization-guide-for-ssds-hdds

As for moving the Program Files, it wasn't in his Win 8 guide, so dunno if it works. Test on dummy install before committing.

Regarding that "System reserved" partition: It contains a number of files needed very early in the boot, like Boot Configuration Database, bootmgr.exe, and so on. Windows installation puts that partition on the drive your platform firmware (BIOS or UEFI) is set to first try to boot from. To ensure it goes on your SSD along with the "boot" partition (that's normally your C: partition), change your firmware settings to look at the SSD first. To make doubly sure, don't have any other drives connected when you install Windows.

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