By default, all apps – including traditional Win32 apps, as well as the ones you can get from the Store – will end up on your PC’s main hard drive. This is usually the “C:” drive. Changing the locations of these apps is easy and it can be very useful in some cases.
The most typical reason to change the default install drive is that you are running out of storage space, which is especially common on laptops with SSD drives. Unusually demanding apps are best installed on SSD drives, so you may want to set the fastest drive as a default for apps. All of this is very easy to do on Windows 10.
Windows Store Apps
Windows Store apps are built completely differently than Win32 apps. First of all, the way they’re installed and downloaded is more akin to using a smartphone store. Microsoft has come up with this in order to emphasize the responsive design of their tablets and mobile phones. Whether this was a smart move or not is debatable, but making sure that all Windows Store apps are installed in one place can help you make better use of your storage.
Installing on a Separate Drive
If Windows 10 has made one thing easier, it’s tweaking its new features. Although they didn’t want to change too much about how the traditional programs and apps work, the new features that they introduced are much more straightforward to tweak. Changing the default install location of these apps is an excellent example.
- Click Start and type in “Settings.”
- From the search results, select the Settings
- In the menu on the left, select Storage.
- Now, under More storage settings, click Change where new content is saved.
- Select your new default location.
Every app you download from the Windows Store will now automatically install in your new default location. Keep in mind that you can also use this menu to change the location where other file types get saved, such as documents, music, photos and videos, films and TV programs, etc.
Moving to Another Drive
Even though you’ve created your new default install location, the Windows apps that you’ve previously installed will still be located on your primary drive. You don’t have to uninstall them and install them again in order to move them to another drive. Instead, you can move the apps one by one, leaving some on the main drive if you want to.
- Open Settings
- Find Apps & features.
- From the list of apps, select the one that you want to move to a new location.
- Click the app and select Move.
- Choose the drive you want the app to be moved to
Keep in mind that the Apps & features list displays both Windows Store and Win32 apps. You can only move the Windows Store apps this way. If you try to move a Win32 app, the Move button will be replaced by Modify.
The more traditional apps, familiar to decade-long Windows users, can also be installed in a separate drive. In fact, when Windows runs a Win32 app, it prompts you to select the install folder.
With Windows Store apps, you could only select the drive you want an app to be installed on, while the Win32 Install Wizard offers you to select the exact location of the file. This means that you can create a new folder for your new app and install it there.
But unlike Windows Store apps, Win32 apps cannot be moved to another drive. The only way to do so is to uninstall and then select a different destination folder when reinstalling. This is mostly because the way these apps are installed is completely different.
Changing the Default Location
Instead of changing the drive and location every time you try to install a Win32 app, you can change the default location. Although this allows you to also select the exact default install folder, unlike the case was with Windows Store apps, this process is a bit less user-friendly. Here is what you need to do:
- Press Win + R to bring up the Run
- Open Regedit by typing the word in the Open:
- Navigate to the following in the list to the left: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion”
- In the right pane, open the value ProgramFilesDir/ProgramFilesDir (x86), depending on whether your Windows is 32-bit or 64-bit.
- Once you double-click it, the value will open an edit box.
- Under Value data: type in your new desired default location.
Should You Install Your Apps on a Separate Drive?
As you may know, tech-savvy Windows users tend to recommend that you add at least one drive on your PC. This is useful for two main reasons: more storage and backup possibilities. That is to say, by adding a drive, you’re automatically increasing the space on your PC and making sure that there is a hard disk to back things up on.
That being said, you should always keep in mind that installing apps on different drives will just add up to the number of failure points on your computer. The more different variables there are on a PC, the better the chances are of a complication or an error occurring. It is suggested that you use one of your drives for apps (Windows Store and Win32) while using the other for storing things such as movies, music, documents, files – essentially, use your second drive for everything that doesn’t require an install.
Managing Your Storage
It is very important that you learn how to manage your storage properly, especially if you don’t have a lot of it to go about. Make a plan before deciding where you want your apps installed, and make sure you know where everything is in case you ever need to start using external storage.
Do you prefer using Windows Store or Win32 apps? How do you manage your storage? Do you use an external hard drive for backup? Let us know in the comments.