In this tutorial , I would like to share on how I have moved Users folder from my SSD Drive to my Regular Drive and as well as few other folders into another drive especially if you have a small SSD drive and if you like to your users folder (where Downloaded data, Documents , Application settings reside) to be in another drive (say your 1TB hard disk). This does not involve anything to do with registry , instead we are using symbolic links. (more after the jump)
Originally , this guide was written in LifeHacker , however I believed that it lacked of some explanation and things like that. I decided to improvise that guide by adding my extras to it (mainly screenshot and in-depth explanantion and as well as what-if fails)
Symbolic link allows us to fool the system thinking that C:\Users exist in C:\ drive where as it is actually is in your D drive or your regular hard disk and not on your SSD itself. This way the registry is not tampered. Windows can still see the folder its in C , but keep in mind that it is actually point it to another drive aka to your D drive
Another advantage of doing this is that it makes system back-ups much more easier. You could clone your entire hard drive and clone it back (as mainly only Operating System and Program Files) do reside in your C drive instead of User data. Lastly but not least , it would not put strain on your SSD as there are limited read/write cycles on SSD.
So shall we get started ? Very well then – All you be needing is Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. This guide does not work on Windows 8 RT. I am assuming that you have installed Windows 8 on a SSD Drive (We’ll call it C Drive) and you have another regular hard disk (We’ll call it D Drive) whereby you want to put these user data. I have also assumed that you have backed up data just in case if it goes wrong . This is very important , if you don’t backup your data , bad things may happen. The easiest way to do is to use Windows Easy Transfer and back your Users data to an external disk. It would take care of that.
I would also recommend you to load this page on another computer/tablet/smartphone (Don’t worry , my site would format automatically on tablets and smartphone) or print this page as you may not be able to access Internet while you do this.
NOTE : Read the comments as well and DO NOT view this in mobile site – switch it to desktop. It seems that mobile version screws up couple of things
Oh one more thing -your HDD (where your Users folder will be stored) must be formatted as NTFS as well
Booting into Command Line
You can easily boot into command line by pressing Start + C (Charms) and going to Settings and selecting Change PC Settings. Go to General and select this option as shown in Screenshot
Once you have hit the Restart button , you’ll be presented a screen something like this , just select Troubleshoot (Images were taken from HowToGeek)
Afterwards select Advanced Options and then select Command Prompt (as shown below)
Your PC should reboot and you’ll be brought into a screen whereby you would have to login to the system and a command prompt Window would pop-up. Now this is important , you need to find out which is your SSD Drive and your HDD Drive (that you want to move your data to). One simple way is by typing
and then by typing
dir /w /p
Just cross check if that is your C drive (SSD Drive) , rinse and repeat for D: , this is to ensure the source and destination drive. At times it can be E: also , just try few letters from C: to determine if it is the right drive. Once you have sorted it out , this is where the fun part begins
robocopy /copyall /mir /xj C:\Users D:\Users
What this command does is that it copies files from C:\Users (your SSD) to D:\Users (your Hard Disk). /copyall is to indicate to robocopy (which is ia copying tool) to copy all folders /mir is used to indicate that all permissions and file settings should be adhered and lastly /xj is used to say that do not follow any symbolic links. Now this process may take a while depending on the number of users you have in your system and the size of User folder. Go have a cup of coffee or something.
Once it is done , make sure that they aren’t any errors , make sure there aren’t any errors in FAILED column
Now the fun part begins , we will now delete our Users folder from our SSD. Don’t worry , it is already copied to our regular HDD. This is needed for us to create a link .
rmdir /S /Q C:\Users
/S /Q are used to remove all folders inside as rmdir by default only deletes an empty folder
Once that is done it is time for us to create our link , this can be done with this command
mklink /J C:\Users D:\Users
A little bit explanation on this. There are two types of symbolic link – hard links and soft links (No , they aren’t like pornography although a bit similar). A softlink is basically like how a web-site re-directs. So if I go to C:\Users , it gets redirected to D:\Users and if I go to C:\Users\Bob (assuming my user name is Bob) , it gets re-directed to D:\Users\Bob. Now with the hard-link , it sort of creates the folder in your SSD fooling Windows and everyone else that such folder exists in C:\ drive , but the data and stuff are getting written in D:\ drive. As far as Windows and software sees it , the folder is located in C drive and it is not a re-direct of any sort , but what it does not know is that data is getting written to D drive instead of C. Plus you don’t have to worry about your SSD running out of space
Now that’s about it. Keep your fingers crossed , perform your mantra/ritual (I would generally run around in a circle while listening to Rebecca’s Black Friday – Trust me , it works ) and close the command prompt. You’ll be presented with the same options again and this time select Continue .
If everything works , Configurations , you should have noticed that you have gained more free space in your SSD drive and you should notice that your Users folder icon have changed to indicate that its a “pointer” as shown below
Notice that the files are actually getting stored in D instead of C drive
Now you may extend this to any other application , however keep in mind that do not do this for Program Files (for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 8). I have tried it , it does not break any applications but it breaks Metro. It seems that WindowsApps (where Metro applications are stored) , would not work with links and insists that it must be stored physically in the drive itself . For Windows 8 64-bit users , you may move Program Files (x86) aka your x86 applications can be stored in your HDD by default . The instructions are the same just replace Users with Program Files (x86). You can even move specific applications as well , the instructions are just the same you owuld just have to replace the path and that’s about it. Its like one-mantra that works for all
You will have the speed of SSD whilist having the storage capacity of your regular HDD to store your files. I have not noticed any performance drop while doing this. Windows still boots up fast and all my downloaded data , music , web browsing cache gets stored in HDD
Oppa Oppa Gan..I mean Opps ! What if something goes wrong…
Simple just follow the instructions back , you can copy back from D: to C: drive , just change a few things. Now suppose if you can’t figure that out. You may use the refresh functionality in Windows 8 , it should help and you or alternatively you may use your Windows Easy Transfer that you have backed up.
As usual , if you have found a better solution or if something isn’t working – feel free to post it in the comments and I would gladly have a look at it and reply