Relocating system files

By | September 15, 2009

After my last post about correcting a low disk space warning by moving and storing your user files on a secondary partition, I noticed that I did not mention the fact that is possible to relocate your XP created system files. This can be particularly useful when you are already familiar with saving everything to My Music, My Videos, or My Documents in general.

Trying to change old habits can be difficult; instead of changing your behavior you can change the location of the My Documents folder to cause all files to be saved to your storage drive rather than your C: drive. Most programs you install for downloading or file sharing, will default to saving music to the My Music folder and Videos to the My Videos folder etc. With that in mind, it’s possible in XP to allow those programs to remain in their default state while still allowing the user the ability to move their system folder.

You’ll probably call your new storage drive d: or D: because that is what Windows will suggest when this is your second partition. By default the Windows system is programmed to save all of your My Documents folders to the %ProfileName% folder where ProfileName is the name of your profile – either your first name or Admin in many cases. When you open My Documents folder your address bar likely looks like this: C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\My Documents.

Since your system drive is showing low disk space warnings and you are looking to stop keeping your files on the system drive for that reason, you can redirect all My Documents folders to your new partition.

  • Go to Start > My Computer.
  • Locate your new partition there, it should be next to your C: drive.
  • Double click to get into the new partition you created.
  • Create a new folder called Documents, or anything you like. Be sure to pick a name that will allow you to easily identify the folder.
  • Press BACK in your explorer window until you are back in My Computer.
  • From the menu on the left of the window (Other Places menu) right click on My Documents.


  • From the menu that appears choose Properties.
  • In the Target Folder Location text box enter the path to the new folder you just made in your new partition. It might look like this D:\My Documents


  • Click Apply at the bottom of the properties window

Now you have successfully redirected My Documents folder to point to your second hard drive. This should help you to keep your system drive from complaining about low disk space. Unfortunately this is the only system folder that can be redirected in this manner. This will not work for folders like Program files or Control panel etc, in a standalone system.

This is one of the useful features of a networked machine which is server dependant for its network. In these situations it is possible to have a workstation stream its Program Files from a central application server. By relocating your storage files, you can avoid unnecesary reformats or repartitionings of your hard drive.

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