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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    What are the pros and cons of relocating a user's "my documents" folder to an external drive? I know it's slower, and obviously there is a risk the drive won't be connected when the machine boots -- but what if it weren't? Other than the folder not being accessible, I mean? And besides the potential issue of a drive not being connected, what other problems might crop up? Would it work better, or worse, in one version of Windows vs. another?


    thanks for any thoughts

  2. #2
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    As long as they're backed up, whatever drive or partition they are kept on is not much of an issue. I relocate mine in XP, Vista and 7 and all function about the same. Sometimes a program that installs will be hard-coded to put a custom storage or temp folder in the original default location but I don't find that to be much of an issue and like being able to seperate OS and apps from data.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Relocating the My Documents (or Documents) folder to a removeable SDcard is standard practice for most people who use XP or 7 on a netbook with small (8-16GB) SSD drives. Windows functions perfectly well without it being connected.

  4. #4
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    I would NOT do this. With any problems with accessing these drives would most likely clobber your links and you would NOT have access to them.

    If you look around, you will see all kind of post about users losing their external drive and have a nightmare on their hands.

    There is nothing wrong in copying them to a external drive but setting up that your "User\UserName\Documents" being linked there NO way.

    With them there and NOT linked, there should be no problem in opening, editing and saving to them, but not as the default location.

    I have a networked system, and I use a older XP machine for my files/Print server, and I save 90% of my files across the network, but it is NOT my default location. I have to browse over to it but, it is no big deal for or the wife.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  5. #5
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    I use one PC as a "server" and keep all documents there. My other PCs have their document folders relocated to this share. They are all configured with Offline Files so they continue to work if the server is offline.

  6. #6
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    For many years, I located My Documents on a separate drive. Periodically, a Program or an install would recreate a My Documents folder in the default location & I would have to clear it out.

    Like DaveA, I would *not* relocate it to an external HDD.
    Gre

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Wagner View Post
    For many years, I located My Documents on a separate drive. Periodically, a Program or an install would recreate a My Documents folder in the default location & I would have to clear it out.

    Like DaveA, I would *not* relocate it to an external HDD.
    Doesn't the second statement contradict the first statement?
    Clive

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  8. #8
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clive Pugh View Post
    Doesn't the second statement contradict the first statement?
    Not if the "separate" drive is not "external".

    You can have more than one internal drive on a PC (to state the obvious).
    Sometimes the phrase "separate drive" is refers to a separate partition on a single internal hard drive, but this usage is somewhat inaccurate.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA View Post
    I would NOT do this. With any problems with accessing these drives would most likely clobber your links and you would NOT have access to them.

    If you look around, you will see all kind of post about users losing their external drive and have a nightmare on their hands.

    There is nothing wrong in copying them to a external drive but setting up that your "User\UserName\Documents" being linked there NO way.

    With them there and NOT linked, there should be no problem in opening, editing and saving to them, but not as the default location.

    I have a networked system, and I use a older XP machine for my files/Print server, and I save 90% of my files across the network, but it is NOT my default location. I have to browse over to it but, it is no big deal for or the wife.
    I also would not recommend it for an ordinary USB external but as I mentioned, as long as there is a good one for one backup, even if the external fails it is no problem at all (at least in XP since I've done it) replacing that external, verifying drive letter (change if needed to match old drives letter) and copying the backup onto it. Of course during the failure one would not want to allow the computer to make any new associations as far as file location goes when prompted for an available location.

  10. #10
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    MS Windows (all versions) was designed to run ONE WAY. Once you start trying to redesign windows you can create a quagmire of disconnections. Sort of like a swamp, filled with snakes and alligators.

    Occasionally, as a service tech, I have to work on such a PC and it's a real nightmare, when things are NOT where they are supposed to be. I like the old saying "KISS". That means "Keep It Simple Stupid!"

    Office is not the only program that writes things to the "My Documents" folder. Having it where Windows put it, is very helpful.

    However that's not saying that having a backup copy elsewhere is not also helpful. I wrote a batch file, using XCOPY that backs up all new or changed files in my own "My Documents" folder to a like folder on my internal storage HD. I've added a few extra lines to that Backup Batch File, to back up my email files, address book and Firefox Identities file, to name just a few.

    Every valuable file you own, should be in at least TWO places, preferably not on the same drive. Flash drives are quick and easy to use, but NOT the most reliable. DVD's are far more reliable and today they are fairly cheap.

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  11. #11
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    MS Windows (all versions) was designed to run ONE WAY
    I think that maybe more true for Macs. One of the things most attractive about Windows for me is the ability to have six different approaches to the same solution or process. Flexibility is king.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Who View Post
    MS Windows (all versions) was designed to run ONE WAY.
    On the contrary, the very existence of local policies (and GPO if you are in a domain environment) attests to the multitude of custom configurations that you could delve into. I totally agree that the "average" user probably should not be toying with some of these settings (hence your nightmares). Folder redirection is not directly available in local policies, but it is in GPO, and many corporate Windows domains redirect My Documents to a user's home drive. Of course the reason for this is to avoid files being saved on local hard drives. Not only are there security issues around this, but local files generally don't get backed up with the enterprise backup system.

    That said, doing this at home should work great, but as already stated, relying on one disk is risky. If you can come up with a method to keep multiple copies of your My Documents directory, you should be fine. The only thing that will happen if the drive is not connected is that if you try to access the folder, you'll just get an error that its not available.

    Better yet, just try it and see how it works for you. If its not satisfactory, just go back to "normal".
    Chuck

  13. #13
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    The differences of a Domain vs. a Workgroup Network, are unlimited. Most of these items such as
    "redirecting" were designed for use on a Domain network, that has the power to keep things straight.
    Just because it works on a Domain does NOT mean it will and should work on a Workgroup.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  14. #14
    5 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA View Post
    The differences of a Domain vs. a Workgroup Network, are unlimited. Most of these items such as
    "redirecting" were designed for use on a Domain network, that has the power to keep things straight.
    Just because it works on a Domain does NOT mean it will and should work on a Workgroup.

    That said, it works fine for any experienced person who knows and remembers how it was setup. Mapping in a NAS drive for several computers as the home for "My Documents" is a really convenient way to consolodate data in one place for easier backups without putting a home network in a more rigid and structured Domain environment.

  15. #15
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curiousclive View Post
    Doesn't the second statement contradict the first statement?
    Not really because a different drive would indicate a different partition or a different physical hdd within the same PC, not an exyernal drive! I agree it'sadviseable to keep a copy of My Documents somewhere else as a backup, just as it's adviseable to image your PC in case of a catastrophic failure. But as DrWho states, it is asking for trouble to attempt to rewrite Windows to suite your needs. It is easier and far less troublesome to adapt to the windows environment.
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