How to Securely Change Program Files Location on Windows 10?

What’s the best way to change Program Files location on Windows 10 when the C drive is running out of space. In this post, some simple and practical ways will be provided to help get it done effortlessly.


By Michael / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Why change Program Files location on Windows 10?

Usually, there’re 2 folders – Program Files and Program Files (x86) – on the C drive. By standard, 32-bit software is developed mostly in Program File (x86) while 64-bit apps are placed in Program Files. The 2 Program Files occupy lots of storage space if you have many apps loaded. Over time, the C drive – which is also the boot drive – can get full, and thus, the performance of your computer system will be badly affected. It begins to run slowly, become sluggish and less responsive, and even frequently prompt you with low disk space warning.

low disk space warning

To optimize the performance of the system, it seems pretty imperative to free up some storage for the C drive. As the 2 Program Files folders are the culprits of the issue, many users plan on changing Program Files location to another drive like D, E, and F for their Windows 10 PC. You can’t just cut and paste Program Files to another location since in this way, some necessary data will be missing which prevents you from running programs successfully. This time, we’re going to dig out some more reliable ways to do the job.

How to change Program Files location on Windows 10?

As mentioned above, to free up space for the system drive, 1 of the best ways is to change Program Files location on Windows 10. But which is the most secure one? Don’t worry. Here, the top 4 ways to relocate Program Files are listed along with their step-by-step tutorials.

Way 1. Relocate a single Program Files’ app in Registry Editor

Sometimes, you don’t need to move the entire Program Files folders to another drive to free up space when only some of the apps or programs in the folders occupy too much space. What you need to do is just moving these apps or programs to another drive. The operation can be completed in Windows 10 Registry Editor.

This time, we take VM Virtual Box for example and now, the location of the program is “C: Program Files/Oracle/VirtualBox”. We’re going to change the default location for Oracle VM Virtual box and move it to the D drive on our Windows 10 PC.

1. Hit “Win + R” to launch the “Run” app. Type “Regedit” in the dialogue box and hit “OK” to open Registry Editor.


2. Follow “Computer > HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Oracle > VirtualBox".

virtual box

3. Right-click on the “InstallDir” file and then, select “Modify”.


4. Under “Value data”, change the drive from C to D. After that, hit the “OK” button to save the changes.


5. Now, the dialogue box has disappeared. Under “Data”, you can find the new location of VirtualBox is “D:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\".

new location

Reboot the PC and open the D drive. Then, you’ll find VM VirtualBox is there.

Way 2. Transfer a single app in Program Files to another drive in App & Features

In Program Files, there’re some apps installed from Microsoft App Store. These apps can be migrated to other drives using the Windows 10 built-in feature – App & Features.

1. Login the Microsoft account on the computer and then, you can preview all the apps you previously installed in the app library of the Microsoft Store.

2. Press “Windows + I” to open Windows settings.

3. Go to “Apps > Apps & Features”. Then, you’ll find all existing apps and programs on the right.

4. Scroll to the programs you want to move, select it, and hit the “Move” button. In the popup window, select a drive to move the program to and click on “Move” again.


Way 3. Move Program Files folder to another drive using mklink

How to change Program Files location on Windows 10? Besides using Registry Editor and App &Features, Windows built-in Command Prompt allows you to move the entire Program Files folder to another drive with the mklink command. Read on to learn how to get it done as follows.

1. First, copy the folder of Program Files to another drive, for example, the D drive.

2. Open Command Prompt as an administrator after typing “cmd” in the search box on the lower left of the desktop.

3. In the Command Prompt window, type “mklink” and then, hit “ENTER”. Type commands as the snapshot shows: mklink /D “Program Files” “D: Program Files”. Hit “Enter” again.


Way 4. Move multiple apps from Program Files to another drive

If you find you can’t move certain apps or fail to move the Program File folders in the ways mentioned above, you can turn to some third-party software for help. AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional is an all-in-one powerful disk management app that’s able to move different programs and apps from Program Files to another drive without any data loss with its built-in app mover. If the apps and programs can’t run normally after the migration, you can use the restoration feature to send them back where they previously were. Meanwhile, if you want to give the C drive enough storage space, you can try the feature of free space allocation to allocate extra space from other partitions to the C drive or directly delete some large files on C drive.

Download the demo and begin Program Files transfer!

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Step 1. Install, launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. Then right-click the drive you need to move the applications and choose "APP Mover".


Step 2. Choose the C drive where Program Files folders are and hit the “Next” button to proceed.


Step 3. Tick the programs you want to move to another drive, for example, Microsoft Office. Then, select the destination drive and click on “Move”.


Step 4. Before the app migration begins, you’ll be prompted with a warning saying that you’ll forcibly shut down the currently running apps. Just click on “OK” to launch the migration process.


Step 5. Wait until the process is 100% complete and hit “Finish” to exit the program.


Optional: change default Program Files install location windows 10

If there’s not sufficient storage space left on the C drive and you don’t want to move the Program Files folders from the current location to another drive, to prevent it from getting worse, you can change the default app installation location for Program Files in Registry Editor.

Warning: If you apply this method, you may run into the following problems:
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.

1. launch Registry Editor as you’re told previously.

2. Then, follow the path “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows\CurrentVersion”.

3. Select and right-click on “Program Files” and then, hit “Modify”.

4. Under “Value data”, change the letter C to another letter, for example, D. After that, hit “OK”.

5. Then, perform the same operation to “Program Files (x86).



How to change Program Files location on Windows 10? Multiple practical ways have been given in the post above. You can implement any of them based on your own requirements. But by comparison, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional should be the best choice to free up storage for the C drive by moving large apps and software from Program Files to other drives. It’s secure and causes no data loss. If you want to move Program Files apps on Server computers, please try the Server edition.

Michael · Staff Editor
Michael is a professinal editor of AOMEI editor team.