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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 comments… add one }
  • Trevor March 28, 2020, 5:47 PM

    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.

  • Kevin February 25, 2020, 6:58 AM

    Hello there. Does this actually work?

    • Kevin February 25, 2020, 7:00 AM

      Can you roll back?

      • Trevor March 28, 2020, 5:50 PM

        Yes, open regedit before you make changes and go to file then Export. it will export your entire regedit files then if something went wrong you can just import that copy.

  • andres February 3, 2020, 3:10 AM

    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: https://foldermove.com/

    • Ayla February 17, 2020, 11:05 PM

      Wow this is the best answer… SYMLINKS are the coolest!

  • Alecse Catalin December 29, 2019, 5:44 PM

    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

  • Sohail November 1, 2019, 9:46 PM

    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?

  • Mary August 13, 2019, 11:54 PM

    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!

  • GollyRojer February 28, 2019, 3:20 AM

    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?

  • kimutai Elphas November 21, 2018, 3:06 PM

    Hello this caused sytem error

  • Nico November 12, 2018, 10:25 PM

    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.
    Thx

    • Usman Khurshid November 16, 2018, 7:01 AM

      The problem could be your disk space. Make sure you have enough disk space in your C drive for the updates to be installed.

      • Nico November 17, 2018, 2:33 AM

        40gb free space on C drive :/

    • Theo May 23, 2019, 3:12 AM

      Check that you didn’t make a mistake and delete something accidentally. Regedit is used by the system so you could easily mess something up. Otherwise I don’t know :)

  • Stav October 14, 2018, 2:22 AM

    Thank you! Exactly the solution I was looking for.

  • Frank October 8, 2018, 5:17 AM

    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.

    • Usman Khurshid October 15, 2018, 3:17 PM

      This does not brick the PC. The programs you mentioned are not located in Program Files. They are in System32 instead.

      • Mark December 25, 2019, 6:51 AM

        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”.

    • marcuscole2 November 19, 2018, 8:50 AM

      if you do right add at the start of setup windows befor add any new 3rdp app you are good

      • Rouve March 14, 2020, 7:32 PM

        How can I undo this?? Nothing works, I cannot access anything!!!!

        • Usman Khurshid March 16, 2020, 3:04 PM

          To undo the changes, go to the same Registry key and change the contents of ProgramFilesDir to C:\Program Files and ProgramFilesDir(x86) to C:\Program Files (x86).

    • GollyRojer February 28, 2019, 3:41 AM

      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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