Change Default Installation Folder in Windows 10

When we install new programs on our System, by default they will be installed in System drive which is C drive mostly. The programs which are 32 bit will be installed in “C:\Program Files(x86)” folder and the programs which are 64 bit will install in “C:\Program Files” folder by default.

If you are running out of space in your C drive, you can move some files to other drives. Program Files is one of the most important folders in C drive which takes a lot of space if more software are installed in the system. One way of freeing up space in C drive is to change the default installation location of C:\Program Files. This will not move the currently installed programs but all future programs will be installed in the new location without manually changing the default installation path while installing the application.

Let’s see how we can change the default installation folder in Windows 10. The same can be applied to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Changing the default installation folder

Proceed with following steps to change the default location of installation folder for new installing programs.

  1. Type the “regedit” in start menu and open the first result it shows.
    Change Default Installation Folder in Windows 10 1
  2. Go for following keys
    “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion”. And double click on “CurrentVersion”. Then on right hand side window will expand. Go for ProgramFilesDir from list. If your Operating System is 64 bit then there will be two entries ProgramFilesDir and ProgramFilesDir(x86).
    Change Default Installation Folder in Windows 10 2
  3. Double click on any one of them and see the entries. It is C drive first. You can edit any drive where you want to save all installations. And then press Ok after editing.
    Change Default Installation Folder in Windows 10 3
  4. Restart the system for changes to take effect. And new installation will be done in your new folder.

Apply these manageable and painless steps to change your default folder of installation. This may help you in making your System drive’s space manageable and in control. Now move any of your large files, games, or software between storage drives in few clicks

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23 thoughts on “Change Default Installation Folder in Windows 10”

  1. I did this after reimaging my laptop and it worked!!!!.
    and windows updates ran fine.
    Those of you that are saying windows update doesn’t work makes no sense. You are not changing where the windows update installs. And you didn’t have the common knowledge to backup your regedit. So I don’t think you know much about regedit file I also don’t think you all did it correctly
    I had no issues with windows update. all my programs are installing in my 1TB drive instead of my 128 SSD hosting windows. only thing that installs on the ssd are windows update and certain drivers.

  2. for those of you looking for a solution or just to get more free space on your small SSD. It’s so much better to get a symbolic link just look for “Symbolic link Windows” on google.

    While this article works you must ensure to move ALL the program files (x86) and program files to the other folder/drive affecting performance and windows updates. Is not really recommended unless you have time to mess around and fixing breaking links.

    Try this, this will move a folder ONLY. I had to do this after having visual studio which takes around 60gb or more on my 128gb SSD Drive

    For Begineers:

  3. I did this because i was running out of space on my /C drive trying to install a Forza Horizon 4 , so far so good , will come back later with updates in case something won’t work right :-) . Thanks

  4. It doesn’t work for me, I have connected an external hard drive and I changed the installation patch but still all the softwares install on drive c and I don’t have any space.

    Any suggestions why?

  5. After I did this my computer wouldn’t update, and when I tried to go back to the registry editor and fix it, the location listed above was gone, the current version section was empty! Don’t do this if you don’t absolutely have to because it will break your updates!

  6. Thank you. Your clear, concise instructions without beating around the bush are appreciated. A question: in the same CurrentVersion values there are CommonFilesDir and CommonFilesDir (x86), CommonW6432Dir, and ProgramW6432Dir. I assumed these should also be changed, and did so. Mine are all going to D:\. Do you know of any problem that could develop from changing these others?

  7. I’m having a problem were windows is unable to update. (Fatal error… Undoing changes).
    Could it be that windows is unable to complete updates because i changed the default install folder from C:program files and program files (x86) to D: program files and (x86).
    C is a 125gb nvme ssd were windows is installed and D is a 1tb hdd.

  8. Incredibly stupid and irresponsible article. Doing this will prevent windows from being able to access or run any programs currently installed on the original drive. INCLUDING regedit, command prompt etc. This will essentially brick your computer and the only solution is a full, clean install of windows.

      • So I actually did this and yes, it pretty much ruined Windows. RegEdit does not open, Edge doesn’t open, Chrome (which I had installed previously) does not open. Explorer works, but a lot of Windows tools are broken even if they aren’t installed in Program Files because they depend on frameworks and such that are there. I can’t even run a system recovery because it freezes as soon as I click “Get started”.

    • Put anything you’re unsure of in the environment variables PATH value. And learn to communicate without insults. That skill will serve you well all your life.


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