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How to Move Program Files to a Secondary Hard Drive

Is it possible to move program files from the primary hard drive, C, to either a secondary internal hard drive or an external hard drive? It’s a good question, but one that has a complex answer.

First, and most important, you cannot simply move a program file. In Windows, programs aren’t single files. Often, they’re not even found in a single folder, but rather in dozens of places on the hard drive. The file locations are referenced throughout Windows, which means that moving any of them would cause the program to fail. A simple file-move operation will be unsuccessful.

Second, you should use a second, internal hard drive as your PC’s supplemental disk storage. The problem with an external hard drives is that it might get its drive letter suddenly reassigned when you add new media to the PC. That would be bad. An internal hard drive, on the other hand, has a solid, reliable drive letter.

Finally, the way to move a program file is to uninstall it and then reinstall it on the secondary hard drive. That’s it.

You need to uninstall the program because most software doesn’t let itself be installed twice on the same computer. Besides, the idea is to clean up disk space, and the original installation must be removed.

After uninstalling the program, reinstall it. Set the location for the software to be installed as the secondary drive. Often, to set the location, you must complete a customized, or “advanced,” installation. Choosing that option allows you to specify where the file is installed, and you can select the second hard drive as the file’s destination.

To keep your computer organized, create a Program Files folder on the secondary hard drive. Install the programs in that folder.

After setting up the program on the new hard drive, it should run as it did before. Nothing is lost, and as a bonus, you free up some disk space.

  • This trick works only when you remember to install all new software on the secondary drive. So the next time you run an installation program, remember to choose the secondary hard drive as its location or destination. To make it happen, you choose the Advanced or Customized installation option.

  • If you have problems registering the reinstalled program, contact its developer. When you purchased the program, you bought the right to install it on your computer. Some program licenses prohibit reinstalling the same program, which is disappointing. But in most cases, reinstalling shouldn’t be an issue.

  • It helps if you reinstall the largest programs on the secondary drive. You can discover how big programs are by viewing the window where you uninstall software in Windows. The size of the programs installed is listed along with other information about the program.

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