There are two situations you may want to move program files to another drive on Windows 10/8/7.
Situation 1: Move program files to another drive on the same disk
As time goes on, you may install a large amount of game software or other software on your computer. In general, the installed game software or other software will be installed on program files and program files (x86) by default. To avoid low disk space warning, you may want to move program files and program files (x86) to a larger drive and save the newly installed software to it instead of C drive.
Situation 2: Move program files to different physical disk
In this case, you usually have one spare physical hard drive. And you install your Windows 10/8/7 on a smaller SSD. To get a much better experience, you may want to retain enough space of your SSD and move program files and program files (x86) to another physical disk.
Can you move program files to another drive Windows 10/8/7?
When you talk about backing up files or folders to external storage device like external hard drive, USB flash hard drive, NAS or cloud storage device, you may think it is a piece of cake. However, when it comes to moving program files, you may feel awkward.
Program files and program files (x86) folder (the x86 version is there for backwards compatibility and make sure you can run 32-bit applications on a 64-bit OS) is hard-wired into Windows. And there will be problems if it isn’t where Windows expects it to be. Maybe, most of the programs on your Windows 10/8/7 will stop working or does not respond correctly if you directly drag Program files and program files (x86) folder.
Thus, you cannot directly drag program files to another drive whether on the same disk or different physical disk. You need to use other methods if you want to move your program files and program files (x86) folder.
How to move program files to another drive Windows 10/8/7?
As mentioned above, you cannot directly drag your Program files and program files (x86) to another drive whether on the same disk or different physical disk. Below, I will show you two different methods.
1. Using Registry Editor
Before you use this method, there are two things you need to do.
1. Create a folder named Program files (x86) on another drive (eg: D: drive)
2. Copy "Program Files" and "Program Files (x86)" directories to the new location first.
Run CMD as administrator and type following command prompt
Robocopy "C:\Program Files" "D:\Program Files" /mir
Robocopy "C:\Program Files (x86)" "D:\Program Files (x86)" /mir
Now, continue to see below.
Step 1: Press “Win + R”to summon the Run window, then type Regedit.exe
Step 2: Find the following path on Registry Editor and change drive letter from C: to D:
To Windows 7/8/8.1:
To Windows 10:
2. Using command prompt
The second method is to create a symbolic link using Command Prompt. A symbolic link is a bit like the shortcuts to programs, folders and websites which attach to the desktop. When Windows or any program tries to access the folder, the symbolic link redirects it to the new location.
Step 1: Move “C: \Program Files” fodler to “D: \Program Files”
Step 2: Type cmd in the search box, click it and run as administrator
Step 3: Create a symbolic link with mklink. If you do not know how to use it, you can directly type mklink in the command prompt window. You can get some information concerned to create a symbolic link. Then, follow syntax below to create a symbolic link and press Enter finally.
mklink /D link Target
Taking create a symbolic link for “D: Program Files” as example, you are supposed to type：
mklink /D “Program Files” “D: Program Files”
“Program Files” is the name of your new symbolic link name.
“D: Program Files” is the path your new link refers to.
Note: If you have physical disks and want to move program files from SSD to HDD, you need to connect your HDD disk to your computer. Then, your computer will assign a drive letter or more for your hard drive. Finally, you can do as above. Aside by that, there is an easier way to move it from SSD to HDD. You can use disk cloning software to clone entire system drive or hard drive to your HDD.
Above ways can hep you to move program files to another drive on Windows 10 in a way. However, both ways have its own limitation. For the first way, you may encounter system crash if you misuse Registry Editor. For the second way, there is a risk that users cannot use the programs after moving program files.
Thus, I think it's essential to make a system backup for your computer. Even if you encounter problems like system crash, you still can restore your computer.
How to protect your computer？
To ensure the security of your computer during the process, you can choose a backup and restore software to make a system backup and save it to a safe place.
To the specific steps of creating a system backup, you can see below.
Step 1: Download AOMEI Backupper, install and launch it.
Step 2: Click Backup under the Backup tab, then tag on System Backup
Step 3: This tool will automatically choose your C drive as Source Partition. That's to say, AOMEI Backupper will backup all things including program files and other files concerned to boot your computer successfully. Here, you only need to select your Destination Partition and click Start Backup after you confirm all settings.
To sum up, you have two methhods to move program files to another drive on Windows 10/8/7. And you still have one method to protect your computer. System backup is the best way to protect your computer. If your computer encounter something unexpected, you can use it to restore system state.