Can I move Window’s AppData directory to another partition?

Ian October 15, 2014
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My C Drive is full (60GB – WIN7).

Can I move 11,380.2 MB out of Window’s AppData to a different D: drive (Datapart1) in order to free up space on C Drive?

  1. DalSan M
    October 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Igree that it is more work and trouble than it is worth just to move system reliant files to another drive. Program files, documents, pictures, videos, music, and other non-system reliant files can and should be moved before any AppData or user profile files. Keep only the system and important programs on your 60 GB drive.

    By the way, this is the reason that most people will recommend against using a 60 GB SSD, or any SSD smaller than 120 GB, for the main drive, unless the system would only be used for basic web browsing, streaming media, and creating documents (very basic use). For gaming and photo and or video editing, 120 GB should be minimum (games and media editing software can use a lot of storage space). Note: for best performance and reliability, there should be no less than 20% free space at any time.

    • Ian
      October 23, 2014 at 1:32 am

      I do appreciate the well-considered comments by all, - very much.
      In summary, your various comments and the Microsoft quote (see Jan F's comment) is what lead me not to interfere with AppData. I shall try to make space on my 60Gb C: drive by moving secondary programs to My D: drive.:
      Microsoft: “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.”Thank you again to Kannon Y, Oron J, Jan F and DalSan M
      Ian

  2. Jan F.
    October 15, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    You already got the essential feedback to your question so I will just add what I feel necessary.

    First off all, you will be having trouble moving the AppData folder while you are logged in. You will have to create another temporary administrative user to so.

    The drive you are moving the folder to needs to be NTFS formatted.

    The AppData folder basically contains all sorts of data vital for your every day use. You should make sure that the drive you are moving it to does not spin-down. Otherwise you might be experiencing occasional freezes of applications if not the entire system until the drive is spun up again.

    Moving the User profile or parts of it will break future system upgrades, if not more. I haven't heard issues with normal Windows Updates but at least for system upgrades (e.g. upgrading to Windows 8, 10, ...) it is known fact that the installation routine does not cross volumes.

    To quote Microsoft:
    "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."

    In short: You are asking for trouble.

    My personal opinion:
    Your AppData accounts for 11GB, your Windows installation probably for another 20-22GB.
    Where did the rest of the space go? What speaks against moving that? Most likely a lot of it is used by applications which in 99% of the cases can either be moved to another drive or re-installed onto another drive.

  3. Oron J
    October 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    As Kannon says, a symlink (or a junction) is the best way to do it, but comes with a certain risk. What essentially happens is you move the files to, say, D:MyAppDir (the actual name is up to you). then replace the folder C:windows with a symlink calls AppDir. Whenver a program looks at C:WindowsAppDir it is directed to the folder D:MyAppDir . The risk is that if anything happens either to the D: drive or to the folder (such as being renamed or moved), C:windowsAppDir will point to nothing and you'll get serious errors. Still, if it's important to make more space available this may be the way.

  4. Kannon Y
    October 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Hello Ian, that's a really good question.

    My understanding of AppData is that so many programs rely on it, moving would cause a lot more problems than it would solve. There's a method called "symbolic linking" that can solve this issue, but it takes a fair amount of work to set up. We refer to symbolic linking as "symlink" for short.

    It works like this: A symbolic link refers programs that reference it to another location within the file system. A symlink can point to another hard drive or storage format, including (I believe) external drives. However, if those drives ever become inaccessible, you won't be able to access it.

    Danny Steiben wrote a good guide on SymLinks below:

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/what-is-a-symbolic-link-what-are-its-uses-makeuseof-explains/

    Here's some basic instructions on how to symlink AppData:

    http://superuser.com/questions/705100/move-appdata-via-symlink-to-a-different-drive

    Hope that helps! Good luck!