What’s the Difference Between AppData and ProgramData?

Ben Stegner 29-09-2017

We recently examined the difference between the Roaming and Local AppData folders in Windows. One commenter wondered further what the difference between the AppData and ProgramData folders is. Let’s take a look at these two folders and find out how their roles differ.


As we discussed before, AppData is a folder inside your user directory. It contains data that is specific to your account. Usually, this includes configuration settings that are particular to your instance of an installed program.

The ProgramData folder is located at the root of your C: drive. Like AppData, it’s hidden by default so you won’t see it unless you show hidden folders. ProgramData is “used for application data that is not user specific,” according to Microsoft.

For instance, if you install a photo editing tool that contains built-in clip art, it should store these in ProgramData. It wouldn’t make sense to have multiple copies of common data spread across multiple user folders.

So as a contrast, Google Chrome should use AppData to store data about your settings and extensions. An antivirus program would use ProgramData to store definition information. The former lets multiple computer users 5 Tips for Managing Windows User Accounts Like a Pro Windows user accounts have evolved from isolated local accounts to online accounts with various privacy challenges. We help you sort out your accounts and find the settings that work for you. Read More all work with their own Chrome profile. And the latter lets all users benefit from the same information without wasting space duplicating it.


That’s all there is to AppData and ProgramData. They’re both folders that you shouldn’t need to touch 5 Default Windows Files and Folders You Should Never Touch Windows contains countless default files and folders, many of which the average user shouldn't touch. Here are five folders you should leave alone to avoid damaging your system. Read More under normal circumstances.

Did you know the difference between these two folders? Be sure to share this with your friends to educate them about Windows, too!

Image Credit: mmaxer/Depositphotos

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  1. ABC
    September 29, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    You wrote a new article for me! I am that commenter! Thank you!

    • Ben Stegner
      September 30, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      You're so welcome! Thanks for reading MUO and suggesting topics that interest you : )