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  1. #1
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    Moving system folders brings big problems


    LangaList Plus

    Moving system folders brings big problems


    By Fred Langa

    It's becoming increasingly risky to move system folders to alternate locations, as one Windows Secrets reader recently discovered. Here's why, and here's the fix.

    Plus: A PC freezes during power-up and it must be unplugged before it'll fully boot!

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/langalist-plus/moving-system-folders-brings-big-problems/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    small disagreement with the following statement:
    "As for disk space, today's hard drives are dirt cheap and gigantic, compared to those in early Windows systems. And almost any system (new or old) can be equipped with inexpensive secondary storage, when needed. If, for example, space gets tight on drive C:, you can move the contents of a default Library folder to an external drive and leave the original folder in place. This way, you get the benefits of elbow room without breaking anything.
    In short, I believe that moving default folders is a solution to problems that mostly no longer exist."
    Have an HP desktop computer that came configured with a relative small solid state drive as C: and a large traditional spinning drive as D: In this case there is rationale for moving user data to D: and keeping C: for system files.

  3. #3
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    Sorry Fred, have to disagree with you on your stance on moving system folders. Two very major considerations, one being the size of system images when all of the data files are included with the system and the second is that large capacity SSDs are still not that cheap and many of us are now moving to fast M.2 NVMe PCI-e SSDs and M.2 NVME SSDs really are far from being a cost effective media for storage,and please anyone that cares to disagree with my opinion don't use the availability of cheap platter drives as an alternative argument. Anything but SSDs for the OS is such a large step backward. I have used the time honored way of moving the user folders (right click>properties>location>move) on all my computers and they have all upgraded to Windows 10 with no problems or errors. Many people make the mistake of removing or changing the drive that the user folders have been moved to without changing the user folders back to their default locations first and then when they fire up the computer with the new drive, Windows of course can't find the folders and then Windows creates duplicates. For those who haven't done this just remember choose not to move the files if you don't have room on the OS partition or if you plan to copy the files from the old drive to the new drive. Then when you install the new drive, copy all your folders to it. Then go back and move the folders to their respective folders on your new drive and when you are prompted to choose if you want to over write the desktop.ini file choose yes. That file ties that folder to windows library system. Those of us who store large amounts of data and want to access it through the Windows user folders still need this feature and hopefully Microsoft won't be so short sighted that they would hinder this user option in any way.

  4. #4
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    My concern with moving anything within Windows Prime and/or the normal 3rd party programs and utilities operations: scuttlebutt from some but not all backup/restore gurus indicate that such movement can cause problems for the end-user if OS restore[s] have to be made, especially if incremental and/or differential backups are involved. Tossing in my two cents: I have numerous backups and some OS restores, so I plan to not move anything from within Windows Prime.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

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    Common Users folders have a 'Location' tab in Properties. It is safe to change the location there of folders like Documents, Music, Movies, Downloads, etc.
    I always change them to a larger non-SSD drive.
    they will survive backups and upgrades with no problems, since that is a supported method.

  6. #6
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    Hello Roland,
    Backups are always a concern. If you use windows system image backup, it is going to make an image of the whole drive and as long as you restore back to that drive you shouldn't have any problems regardless of where your data is on another drive. If you want to be sure that you can restore to any drive, then Windows Image Backup is not an option and the only safe way to make a reliable image backup in my opinion, is to use backup options where you boot the computer from either USB or CD media. Somehow I have no confidence in backups that are made from within windows while it is running. I know that backup fear is a big issue with a lot of users, but if you are making an image of the OS on one hard drive or even one partition, what is on another hard drive or partition really has no bearing on the success or validity of those image backups when using software that boots from Linux based media. I say this not so much to convince you to change your thinking as I see with the amount of posts that you have that you are a very knowledgeable user, but to try and alleviate the fear of backups for those who aren't confident. For those who don't have to worry if their OS image may fail in a restore because they can restore to the original state, or if free is the priority, there are many good programs available, but if an image failure is catastrophic to your workflow, then in my opinion Paragon Drive Manager is the gold standard.
    Frank

  7. #7
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    Frank, you're also very much in the know; I'd like to learn from you! Let's say one has OS on "C" and some programs and the Libraries on "F" -- and the OS on C must be restored. Would both the C image and the F image have to be restored, first C, then F, before a Restart into Windows?
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

  8. #8
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    "Libraries" are merely shells containing links, space taken up is minimal, less than the space used by the "Libraries" icons that clutter Explorer. Think of them as being more like a Dewey System cardex on a desk, when the real data are the shelves full of books, taking up hundreds/thousands of times more space. Move "Libraries" - why... ? Keep your data organised in real folders and skip any possible confusion/data loss, then you can hide the dumb "Libraries" and keep dementia at bay a little longer by exercising your grey matter.

    Until 1607 was released(!) Windows rarely, if ever, had an issue with correctly moved "Special Folders", the ones with pretty icons and the Location tab in their Properties.

  9. #9
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    Myself, I never liked the way Windows expects you to organize files so never used the "default" locations. I also don't like how various software clutters it up. I found Libraries pointless and turned them off.

    I have an SSD boot drive with all programs and keep user-saveable data on a separate drive, as others mention here. I also use distinct backup systems - an Image is perfect for the boot drive but for data, I need immediate access if there's a problem. Buried in a proprietary format is not immediate.

    This has served me well for years. And saved my bacon a few times.

    But I do agree with the title of the article - moving System folders is a mistake. User files folders are easy to change and handled by most decent backup tools.

  10. #10
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    Concur

    Quote Originally Posted by mrgregfox View Post
    small disagreement with the following statement:
    "As for disk space, today's hard drives are dirt cheap and gigantic, compared to those in early Windows systems. And almost any system (new or old) can be equipped with inexpensive secondary storage, when needed. If, for example, space gets tight on drive C:, you can move the contents of a default Library folder to an external drive and leave the original folder in place. This way, you get the benefits of elbow room without breaking anything.
    In short, I believe that moving default folders is a solution to problems that mostly no longer exist."
    Have an HP desktop computer that came configured with a relative small solid state drive as C: and a large traditional spinning drive as D: In this case there is rationale for moving user data to D: and keeping C: for system files.
    I agree. I have over 250 GB of just music, therefore, my 250 GB SSD C: drive is insufficient. Besides, pictures and video takes up a lot of space also--too much for the affordable SSDs.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by satrow View Post
    "Libraries" are merely shells containing links, space taken up is minimal, less than the space used by the "Libraries" icons that clutter Explorer. Think of them as being more like a Dewey System cardex on a desk, when the real data are the shelves full of books, taking up hundreds/thousands of times more space. Move "Libraries" - why... ?
    So that the minimal index can be kept at the default location which Windows expects, while the data taking thousands of times more space can easily be moved to a larger disk.


    Quote Originally Posted by satrow View Post
    Keep your data organised in real folders and skip any possible confusion/data loss, then you can hide the dumb "Libraries" and keep dementia at bay a little longer by exercising your grey matter.
    You made a Dewey index sound quite efficient. Why are "Libraries" dumb?

  12. #12
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    Fred, Fred, Fred.

    Your thinking is Byzantine.

    Here is why moving the user folders to the non-OS drive make gigantic practical sense:

    1. I can share the desktop, documents, etc. seamlessly with any other account (like Admin), completely unifying the UI across various user accounts.
    2. I can share the desktop, documents, etc. seamlessly with any other Windows XP/Vista/7/10 installation.
    3. Backup involves only 1 data partition (or a subset) that will never change regardless of the OS version. I NEVER backup the OS drive because it is far easier to wipe it clean and do a fresh installation using a drive image, rather than fiddling with some repair when trying to correct an OS corruption. I never have to worry about overwriting user data that simply never exists on the OS drive.
    4. I can put the OS drive on a really fast SSD, and put all of the user data on spinning media or a larger but slower SSD.

    Using this schema, the many dozens of times I have reinstalled the OS has been quick and painless for the past 15 years. It is my single smartest management decision.

    Give it another thought, Fred.

  13. #13
    5 Star Lounger ibe98765's Avatar
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    Fred is right in that there probably isn't any real reason to relocate Windows files from default but I've always moved the user files to my D: drive for as long as I have been using Windows. I am comfortable and used to this organization.

    So I continued to move the old C:\Documents and settings\Username when I moved from WinXp to Win 7, I did it with Win 8 and when I updated to Win10, the auto update process didn't blink that C:\Users\MyID was at D:\Users\MyID.

    I did the change via the registry, using the ProfileImagePath key which makes the process error free when done correctly. I am comfortable editing the registry as I have made many changes in the past manually (but hardly any nowadays).

    Since all Windows versions are extensions of the original WinNT back from 1993 or so, many registry keys are the same, which makes this hack easy to do across versions.

    One day perhaps MS will get around to actually writing a new, modern OS instead of continually editing the old WinNT. The Windows code must look like a massive plate of spaghetti by now! Whew.

  14. #14
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    Moving Data OK but not systems

    Fred
    I always move my data, (Documents, Music, Pictures...) like "stonedumpr" and never have a problem. I also find I cannot use Libraries to link in my network drives as Libraries need to be able to index the drive. I keep all my music, videos and pictures on a separate server. The library "add" won't allow me to add \\server\foldername because it cannot index it so I create symlinks in a folder called C:\Netdrives using the command "mklink /d media \\server\media" then I can just use Quick Access links to the various folders c:\Netdrives\media\Pictures etc.
    The only way I have found that I can use network folders in libraries is to map drives to network folders. Is there any other way?
    Expert help is less costly than inexpert help

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibe98765 View Post
    One day perhaps MS will get around to actually writing a new, modern OS instead of continually editing the old WinNT. The Windows code must look like a massive plate of spaghetti by now! Whew.
    You ought to search out the presentations by Mark Russinovich and other Microsoft luminaries about the restructuring and re-writing of massive parts of Windows that has been done over the last decade starting with Vista. There may still be parts of Windows that are spaghetti like but the kernel of Windows has been significantly restructured.
    Joe

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