Can I Change Program Files Location & How to do it?

If you want to change program files location in Windows, can you ensure all programs can run well? This post will show you some methods to help you safely do this job.


By Lucas / Updated on May 12, 2023

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“I am kind of confused with windows 10 on how to change Program Files Location. I mean, can I do that? If so, how can I change the default program files directory in windows 10? Do all programs run well after the change? Any help?”

Why do you need to change program files location?

In a Windows operating system, there must have a Program Files folder on the C drive. This is mostly due to the necessity for the system to ensure a solid correlation between the apps you are installing and the operating system.

32-bit software is typically installed in the Program Files (x86) folder, whereas 64-bit programs are often installed in the folder Program Files.

Program Files folder

Program Files is one of the most important folders on the C drive, and it may take up a lot of space if you have a lot of apps installed. Changing the default configuration destination of it became one method for freeing up a lot of space on the C drive.

How to change program files location in Windows

Although you can change Program Files location, the proper solution is not “Copy & Paste”. Those files stored in these folders include directory data, so, if you try to move them in the wrong ways, your programs will boot in failure, and some data may miss too.

So, in this part, we’ll show you how to change installation directory to make sure the security of your programs and data.

Method 1. Using Registry Editor

You can move the whole Program Files folder to another drive by using Windows Registry Editor.

▶ Attention:
1. Microsoft hotfixes, updates, and security updates may not be installed correctly.
2. New versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Microsoft Windows Media Player may not be installed correctly.

Step 1. Copy the folders of Program Files and Program Files(X86) in the system drive and paste them onto the D drive or other drive with sufficient space. It may take several minutes.

Step 2. Hit the “Win” + “R” keys simultaneously to bring up the Run box. Then, in the box, type “regedit” and hit “OK” to launch Registry Editor.

Step 3. After the main window of Registry Editor appears, follow this path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows\CurrentVersion.

Step 4. Right-click on “Program Files” and then, click “Modify”.

Step 5. Under “Value data”, change the letter “C” into “D” (or the drive you newly created a folder) and then, hit “OK”.

Step 6. Right-click on “Program Files(X86)” and click “Modify”.

Step 7. Under “Value data”, still change the letter “C”, and click “OK”.

Value data of program files

Method 2. Using mklink command in CMD

CMD also has some commands that can change the Program Files location.

Step 1. Copy the folder of Program Files and Program Files(X86) from the C drive to the D drive.

Step 2. In the search box on the lower left of the desktop, type “cmd” and under “Command Prompt”, select “Run as Administrator” to bring up Command Prompt

Step 3. In the Command Prompt window, type “mklink” and hit the “Enter” key. Then, type the following commands and press “Enter” to run.

mklink /D “Program Files” “D: Program Files”


Method 3. Using the professional folder move tool

However, if you think the operation of Registry Editor is a little complex and you're not familiar with the command in CMD, we sincerely recommend you AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to easily and securely change Program Files location for all types of users.

It’s a versatile Windows disk manager with a helpful tool, “App Mover”. This utility has two functions, moving installed apps, and moving folders. If you decide to move the Program Files folder, only a few clicks can solve the job, and all programs can run well as usual.

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▶ Note:
1. To ensure the folders can be operated normally, please do not move or delete the files in the source and target directory.
2. This feature only runs between NTFS drives, if you want to move folders from or to a FAT32 drive, you’ll need to convert to NTFS at first.

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant, click Free up in the top toolbar and select APP Mover.

App Mover

Step 2. In the new window, click “Move Folder”.

Two options

Step 3. Select the program files folder, and choose common files or some third-party files (system files folders are not allowed to move). Choose the location drive under the window, and click “Move”.

Select folders

Step 4. You will see a pop-up notice, click "OK" to begin the process. Then wait for a while, and the task will be finished.


After the move, the selected folders will save your new data files.

Further knowledge: Move installed programs from C to D

As we mentioned above, there’s another function in the “App Mover” utility that allows users to move installed programs to another drive or disk. All related data files will be automatically detected, and the utility will set all directory information well to make sure the moved apps can boot successfully and run well as before.

Step 1. When you enter the App Mover feature, choose the “App Mover” option on the left.

Two options

Step 2. In the pop-up window, choose the partition that you want to free up via moving apps (here is partition C) and click “Next”.

Select partition

Step 3. In the window, all movable apps on the C drive will be listed. You can choose one or multiple apps that you need to move and the destination partition. Then click “Move” to execute the operation.

Tick Apps

Step 4. Confirm that you have closed the apps and that you will move from C drive to D drive. Then, click "OK".


Step 5. Wait for the move process to complete. Then, click "Finish".


Ending lines

If you wish to change Program Files location, now you have 3 ways to opt. AOMEI Partition Assistant offers you more choices to do this, you can move folders and programs. And after the move, you can use PC cleaner to clear more junk files to keep your PC healthy.

What’s more, if you need, you can try cloning a disk to quickly set your new disk as a system disk, convert partition type without data loss, and allocate more free space to the C drive.

Lucas · Staff Editor
I prefer peaceful and quiet life during vacation,but sometimes I watch football match if my favorite club performs brilliantly in that season. And I love reading, painting and calligraphy, thus I send my friends festival handwriting cards every year.