Can my external hard drive be used to install games in Windows?

Land B July 29, 2013
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I have a 50GB hard drive that is full so i bought a 500GB external hard drive, but because my programs auto save to my full drive I still cannot install games. How do I make everything automatically save to the external HD?

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  1. Saumyakanta S
    July 31, 2013 at 3:59 am

    you dont need to understand the whole system to do this thing. During the installation of software (at the setup screen) choose a folder inside your external HDD and install the software....JUST MAKE SURE THAT DONT INSTALL SOFTWARES LIKE MS OFFICE , BROWSERS ,because they have files scattered around the system

  2. Jan F
    July 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Installers generally use the default installation directory set in the registry.

    Technically you can find and alter it by opening "regedit" (Start menu > run):
    In the left hand side navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion"

    The corresponding entries would be "ProgramFilesDir" and "ProgramFilesDir (x86)" (if you have a 64-bit system).

    However, some files or dependencies may be installed into the Common Files directory which is still located on the full drive. This directory could also be altered in the same registry path and are named "CommonFilesDir" and "CommonFilesDir (x86)".

    All in all I cannot recommend doing any of this changes as I have no knowledge about the impact this may have on your system overall.

    The problem here is that some application may refer to the "ProgramFilesDir" or "CommonFilesDir" path set in the registry and will no longer find files which are still located on the C: drive.
    Other application may have set absolute paths to "C:Program Files" respectively "C:Program FilesCommon Files" and won't find them if you move all to the external drive.

    Basically you'd have to keep a copy of those files on both drives which would still mean you have a storage problem on your system drive.

    It is usually recommend to simply select a different installation path during the installation itself. This way everything ends up where the respective applications expects them to be.
    This means you should probably uninstall some of the applications located on the 50GB drive and re-install them selecting a different installation directory on the external drive.

    Last but not least you should keep in mind the performance impact things may have. You didn't mention details about the external drive but if it's e.g. only USB 2.0 transfer rates and therefor loading speeds will be around 1/3 of the internal drive, write speeds even less.

    The best move probably would have been to by an internal 500GB drive and reinstall Windows with all your software on the new drive.

    • Bruce E
      July 30, 2013 at 7:35 am

      I definitely agree with the sentiment about installing a new, larger internal drive instead of using an external drive for this, but you do no need to reinstall everything. Paragon will allow you to clone your existing drive to the new drive even though the new drive is larger. It is much quicker than reinstalling everything from scratch.

      Although, if it has been some time since you have done a clean install of Windows and you install and uninstall programs frequently, the clean re-installation method may offer the best results.

  3. Hovsep A
    July 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    you should have eSATA/USB 3.0 connection? also you should have a good read/write speed on your external hard drive, otherwise game can be slow or not at all working.