By default Windows installs all programs into the C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files (x86) directories. If the hard drive you have the operating system installed on is running out of space though, or you just want to have the OS on a separate SSD, you might want to consider changing these default installation paths.

Be warned before you go on though! Microsoft does not officially support changing installation directories (see here). You are responsible for all consequences.

Furthermore, since we are going to edit the Windows registry for our causes, you should have that backed up first in case something goes wrong. Here's how:

Now that you have been warned, let's get started: Open a Run... prompt and enter regedit. I will be referring to our new installation path as E:\Program Files and E:\Program Files (x86), so replace these paths with the ones you want to have (you can choose other names as well). Now browse the left registry pane for the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion key. Click on that key once to show its contents and locate the ProgramFilesDir and ProgramFilesDir (x86):

Screenshot (10)

Double click those values and change C:\Program Files to E:\Program Files as well as C:\Program Files (x86) to E:\Program Files (x86). Furthermore it might be safe to change all other paths directing to the old directories to point at the new ones as well. That's it if you are on a 32bit system, close the registry and reboot your computer.

64bit users have one more step to go. Close the registry and open another Run... prompt. This time, enter %systemroot%\sysWOW64\regedit. Another registry windows will open. Repeat the exact same steps here that you have done before. Afterwards, close the registry and reboot your computer.

Change default installation path in Windows 7
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2 thoughts on “Change default installation path in Windows 7

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    I downgraded back to (a better) Windows 7/64bit from 10 and I have a bunch of file paths messed up. I can see pictures (that I want) but it has this message:
    \\?\Volume[9C531DF8-11E1-B7BB-806E6F6E6963}\MYFILES\4FB\mypic1.jpg The specified path does not exist, check path, and then try again.

    But of course they don’t tell you HOW to check the path or fix it. Do you know how? I ~think~ it’s related to my Library files but not completely sure. I can see the thumbnail so I know the file is there… Most grateful for any help!


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