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I've been looking for ways to move AppData off my SSD but the symlink methods won't work since they attempt to make the link in the folder that my AppData folder is in. Since the folder exists and can't be removed while in use, I can't make the symlink.

I also tried the right-click -> Properties on my AppData/Local folder, and tried to move the location of the folder but the move got stuck on something called AppData/Local/ElevatedDiagnostics (it apparantly needed more permissions but I already set everything to Full Control).

I'm running out of space and options. Help?

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  • Using a symlink works, but in my experience, it leaves the user unable to open pretty much any windows GUI program (network settings, windows update, start menu etc etc etc) and you will have to find replacements for these or get used to doing windows update and settings changes from the command line or another user
    – Metareven
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 8:34

5 Answers 5

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Having you tried using the Command Prompt accessible in Windows Recovery Mode to create the symlink?

To access Windows Recovery Mode and the Command Prompt, the instructions HERE should work. After that, try executing the symlink command like you would in a normal Windows environment (eg. symlink /J D:\AppData C:\Users\[Username]\AppData).

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    It's mklink, not symlink.
    – Nuzzolilo
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 3:15
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Create a 2nd administrator profile, turn off your pc, turn it back on and log in as the 2nd admin. Create the symlink for your original profile, then log out of the 2nd account and back into your own, and then feel free to delete the 2nd account. Thats the way I did it, works like a charm.

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  • one thing to note, you'll need to completely remove or rename the existing AppData folder in order to create the symlink. In order to do this, you'll most likely need to run Windows in safe mode as the 2nd user.
    – jtate
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 16:29
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Microsoft advises not to, but they may be speaking only about administrators moving it via the Windows ADK:

By changing the default location of the user profile directories or program data folders to a volume other than the system volume, you cannot service your Windows installation. Any updates, fixes, or service packs cannot be applied to the installation. We recommend that you do not change the location of the user profile directories or program data folders.

It does not specify whether this still applies if you move it with a symlink. I would think Microsoft would have thought of this possibility when making the blanket recommendation to not move user data, but I would think a lot of things.

In fact, the terminology they use to talk about how to move it isn't normal Windows-speak at all--they talk about "the ProgramData setting" rather than "%ProgramData%". They seem to be talking exclusively about moving the directory using the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK), which I've never heard of.

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Don't! I tried, and some apps stopped working, or at least, lost all the data related to it. Luckily, I kept a backup of all the files I was transferring, and copied back my AppData folder.

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 4:01
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Followed all the above instructions and all it did was screw my pc up! Lost all favourites, most of my 'apps' now won't work, lost all my stored passwords and generally having to start again from scratch! Gee thanks for all your help!

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  • Wish there was a way to electronically give someone a slap!
    – DaveT
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:23
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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:41
  • @DaveT - Called downvoting the answer.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:42

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