How to Move Windows 7 Personal Folders Like My Documents to Another Drive

Is your C:\ drive getting crowded? Would you like to move some things to another drive or partition to free up space? Maybe it’s one of the personal system folders like My Documents, My Pictures, My Videos or the Download folder that is taking up a lot of space. If you have another partition or hard drive, consider moving some system folders to a second volume. In fact, as Gizmo has detailed in his XP article at this link, moving folders like My Documents off the C:\ drive is a good idea for several reasons.

Because the locations of system folders are listed in the Windows Registry and sometimes hard-wired in programs, personal system folders cannot be moved by conventional methods nor can you use a standard shortcut file. Instead they are redirected using symbolic links. (See this article for an easy-to-understand explanation of how symbolic links work.) For redirecting personal system folders, Windows 7  has a built-in procedure. Here is how it works:

  1. Open the Start menu and click your user name to open the User folder
  2. Right-click the personal folder you want to redirect to another location.
  3. Select “Properties”
  4. Click the tab “Location”
  5. The dialog box shown below will open
  6. Click the button “Move”
  7. An Explorer dialog “Select a destination” will open
  8. Browse to the location where you want to redirect this folder. You can select another location on this computer, another drive attached to this computer, or another computer on the network
  9. Click the folder where you want to store the files (not the root of a drive)
  10. Click the button “Select Folder”
  11. Click “OK”
  12. In the dialog that appears, click “Yes” to move all the files to the new location.

Location tab in Properties Sheet of personal folder

List of personal system folders where this is applicable

Not all system folders can be redirected this way. On my system these system folders located under Users\{User name}\ had a tab “Location” in their properties sheet and could be redirected:

  • Contacts
  • Desktop
  • (My) Documents
  • Downloads
  • Favorites
  • Links
  • (My) Music
  • (My) Pictures
  • Saved Games
  • Searches
  • (My) Videos

If you wish to put folders back in their original location, use the button “Restore Default” shown in the graphic.

Warning: Moving subfolders by the method described here is fine but moving or redirecting the main Users folder itself can cause trouble with upgrades.

And there you have it. Now your C:\ drive can have some breathing room. 

Microsoft reference Redirect a folder to a new location

Additional information An article with a more general method for moving folders using symbolic links is at this link.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

by smd on 11. May 2014 - 1:40  (116148)

I tried this several times but after clicking OK and then Yes to the popup question "Do you want to move all of the files frpm the old location to the new location?" I consistently receive the error "Unexpected Error from PerformRedirection - The filename or extension is too long"

Help and thank you!

by MidnightCowboy on 11. May 2014 - 5:35  (116154)

We are unable to provide individual support here in the comments. Please post your system and issue details here in our forum. MC - Site Manager.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by Marvelous on 22. March 2014 - 18:14  (115194)

Have followed your instructions for moving personal folders in Win 7. However I did not have a 'Location' tab in the properties.
Looking further, I can't unlock Documents in order to move anything. I checked the permissions, I'm listed as administrator,
made sure I checked to allow me all the permissions, and the system told me I wasn't allowed to make those changes. And I can't find out who is or what to do next. Seems the file was locked in 2009, and I only got the computer and software now. What can I do to move
the personal folders to partitioned drive E: ??

Thanks.

by AlpineKid on 23. April 2014 - 14:33  (115860)

I am having the same problem as you Marvelous. I have a SSD & want t o move the "User" files from C: to HHD. But the "Location" tab is not there.
Microsoft has not come into the present when it comes to SSDs. To allow the user to move the "User" files.
I also want to move the "OneDrive" old SkyDrive to the HHD. Again the "Location" tab is not there. The "OneDrive" can be quite large.
Have been to www.eightforums.com & www.sevenforums.com & found this but could not get to work for me,
http://www.sevenforums.com/performance-maintenance/202440-how-do-i-move-...
http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/4275-user-profiles-relocate-another...
I have spent hours on this & still cannot get the "User" file moved.

by v.laurie on 22. March 2014 - 18:40  (115195)

I don't know why the tab is missing. Perhaps a group policy setting? This question is best asked in the forum http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by Geekomatic on 8. March 2014 - 10:28  (114890)

Granted- it's a typical "clunky" Microsoft way to do things (I swear- they have millions to spend to get things right & this is the end result??)-

but try to refrain from moving the "Users", entirely.

Per here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722177%28v=WS.10%29.aspx

FYI

by R.N. Folsom on 20. October 2013 - 22:51  (111623)

After having trouble moving My Documents from Partition C: to a location on Partition D: (D:\[PtC-MovedDocs followed by folders with the names of the Administrator and the Standard User account), I inserted the following into my copy of the document above, just above this document's detailed instructions:

"To redirect an item such as My Documents, first create a new destination folder (one for each account), and a subfolder that the move will rename. For example, in moving a Partition C: My Documents folder to a Partition D: Standard User account folder, the destination folder path was D:\[PtC-MovedDocs\MereUserAccount\MeUsr, where MeUsr apparently could have been anything, including Rumplestiltskin. Regardess of whether that last folder name was MeUsr or Rumplestiltskin or anything else, the move would change it to be My Documents.]"

New but related subjects:
My Administrator account still has a My Documents folder (originally there were two), and if I try to do anything with it (including deleting it), I get a message that it is Not Accessible, and that Access is Denied. (That was true before and after I moved My Documents.)
In a standard account, the original C: My Documents became Documents, which was empty, so I deleted it.

by howdego on 12. September 2013 - 18:44  (110678)

The article was very helpful. I followed the instructions (I think) to move my Videos library folder. The new folder with all the files and folders from my C drive library appeared on my E drive. Also, the shortcut on the Start Menu now points to the E drive folder.
However, all the files from the C drive folder remain there.

And when I make a new document, the system says it is saved to the E drive location, but I find it ALSO saves to the C drive Library location. So I have done nothing to free up the C drive. If I delete a document from the folder on one drive, it deletes from the other drive too.

What must I do so only save to the E internal drive so I can free up space for more programs on the C drive?

by v.laurie on 12. September 2013 - 18:58  (110679)

Have you checked the space on your C: drive before and after the move? The point of this move is to maintain the references to the old location even when folders have been moved elsewhere by creating symbolic links. Otherwise, you would just move the files the conventional way. Symbolic links are explained in this article: http://windows7tips.com/symlinks-definition.html

by howdego on 18. September 2013 - 18:54  (110848)

Unfortunately, I did not see if the usage of the C drive went down when I performed the move. However, I believe there is more space on the drive. I read the article you noted. Not sure I understand it, but here is what I think it says: I really did move the files to a new MY Videos folder on my E drive. Even though I select Videos on the right of the Start menu, and it takes me to window that says Libraries>Videos, that location is really an psuedo image of what is in the Videos folder on my E drive, and does not occupy any space on the C drive. Anything I save to Videos in the library folder is really saved to the E drive, and anything I save directly to the E drive is simply shown on the C drive library as a link to the actual file. Is that Correct???

If so, is there a way to have the start menu titles look like they are opening the actual E drive folder, rather than point to the library, which is confusing?

by v.laurie on 18. September 2013 - 19:07  (110849)

The point of this move is to maintain the references to the old location even when folders have been moved elsewhere by creating symbolic links. Otherwise, you would just move the files the conventional way.

by howdego on 18. September 2013 - 20:49  (110851)

I think I tried that, but I couldn't get the labels on the start menu to point to the new folder. Can that be done?

by koenmiltenburg on 28. August 2013 - 15:57  (110376)

I have moved all the personal files to my D drive. but now, when I click on the 'music' library (not the my music file but the 'music' library) I do not get the 'my music' folder but the desktop.. And I can't add another file to this library as I am able to with the other libraries, i.e. documents and pictures.

so somehow the desktop became attached to the music library.

Does anyone know how to fix this?

by jmjsquared on 28. August 2013 - 20:53  (110379)

This thread in the Freeware Forum may help:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/...

It's being watched by a couple of helpful, knowledgeable people.

by mannaoz on 22. August 2013 - 23:25  (110271)

Hi there I to have just fallen into the same trap. Dam Should have read more posts. I moved the My Documents from C: to D: and thinking I didn't have to create a folder just did the transfer as per your instructions making D: the destination. Now I have no idea where the My Documents have gone. All 12.65 GB. Please help me as I need these. I was going to move My Photos as these are very special I am having second thoughts. Although your instruction were clear well I though it was I wish you had been a little more precise. Where to form here please. I also have Windows 7 64.
I do not see any of my documents files although the size of D: has increased and C: has decreased.!!

by jmjsquared on 23. August 2013 - 0:26  (110274)

Pardon my interjecting but, since I did the same thing, perhaps my experience can reassure you that *almost* certainly, your files are still "there"; i.e., in the Root of your D:\ Drive. The changes in the free spaces of C: and D: are *proof* of that, right?

-- Did you open D:\ and look for the individual folders/files?
-- I don't see why this should matter BUT, just in case: Did you setup your system to show Hidden Files and Folders?
-- Do a "Search" on D:\ for any file/folder whose name you may recall. Hopefully, Search will be successful in finding the file/folder and then you will know where the others are "hiding".

Good luck.

by mannaoz on 23. August 2013 - 1:17  (110275)

Thanks for your comment and to the author for giving me some valuable information. I am not upset rather pleased that it has forced me into understanding file structure. A funny way to learn but at 65 one needs to find these things out. Better not to have to trail and error. But hey this is computers. So now that I have got this far. If I was to relocate the desktop files and folders creating a landing folder. D:\Desktop. these would still continue to work as if they were in C:. The next biggie is the My Pictures folder how do I do a backup just in case I blow it as there are many irreplaceable pictures in there.Your advice always welcome and thank you all for being here to lend advice.

Jeff

by v.laurie on 23. August 2013 - 1:45  (110277)

Don't call the new folder "Desktop". Why not maintain the old folder structure? It will keep things clearer. If you are moving "Documents" why not stick with that?

by jmjsquared on 23. August 2013 - 1:39  (110276)

Hey there, Jeff. As you see I'm certainly no expert on Windows links: symbolic, hard or otherwise. However, I THINK relocating your Desktop to another drive would be catastrophic. In effect, you would be relocating "everything" on your system.

IMO, until you've fully understood how this is supposed to work, have located the missing 12.65 GB worth of files and have backed up your My Pictures, you should do nothing more.

What say we continue our conversation in the forums? I've started a thread here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/...

by v.laurie on 22. August 2013 - 23:57  (110272)

I am very sorry that you have a problem. Step 9 does say "select a folder". I do hope you backed up as this is always essential in Windows. I assume you have tried the restore function that is mentioned in the tip. Many, many people have used this procedure without problems and this issue with moving to the root of a drive is one I have not seen before. I see no mention of it in Microsoft's instructions but that may be little consolation. I have added a note to the tip.

Added later: Maybe this reference will help: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/18583-user-folders-restore-default-...

by v.laurie on 23. August 2013 - 0:18  (110273)

jimjsquared and mannaoz, I feel very bad when people put their trust in me and I fail them. All I can say is that Microsoft didn't make this problem with using the root of a drive clear either. But that isn't much of an excuse since Microsoft is no model of clarity.

by jmjsquared on 19. August 2013 - 17:10  (110207)

As always, a nice article but, potentially, a very troublesome tip. Knowing that Vic usually walks on water, without a second thought, I followed his Tip's advice EXACTLY and now have a mess on my Windows 7 64-bit machine.

I chose the root of a second hard drive (H:\)installed in a laptop as the new location of My Documents. When the Move completed, rather than having "H:\My Documents", I now have all of the original folders/files individually populating H:\. All the files are there but this has broken many applications (e.g., RoboForm)that store their data in My Documents. Also, shortcuts that used to point to My Documents have to be individually re-targeted. Worse still, when trying to restore the Folder to its Default location, I get a perflog error.

I am sure other such (non-fatal) problems will present themselves over time.

Perhaps, this is not as straightforward and generic a Tip as it appears?

by v.laurie on 19. August 2013 - 17:42  (110208)

I am certainly sorry to hear that something went wrong with the move. This procedure is very well established. It has worked for many people. Did you accidentally choose the root of H:\ instead of H:\My Documents for the new location? I do hope you made a backup. The procedure creates a symlink (http://windows7tips.com/symlinks-definition.html) pointing to the new location. The symlink means that all old references to My Documents should continue to work. The whole point of the procedure is to maintain all the old references while actually moving the files.

Again, I am sorry that the tip blew up on you. I guess I fell into the water this time.

by jmjsquared on 19. August 2013 - 18:06  (110210)

No you didn't, not really. (Un)commonsense should have told me to do exactly what you identified I did NOT do; i.e., create a new folder (MY)Documents. Though, in my feeble attempt to excuse myself, it seems logical that the original Folder would have been moved as-is.

Not a catastrophe: All folders/files are there.

Thanks for the sympathy. ;-)

by Sully Kubillas on 15. June 2013 - 15:11  (108546)

I would appreciate very much you help:

I need to reinstall Windows 7 on my PC. My personal folders (My Music, Desktop, My Documetscs, etc) were moved to drive D:. Now the question is how to tell reinstalled Windows 7 where these default folders are in order to gain acces to them.

Sully

by v.laurie on 15. June 2013 - 16:15  (108547)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post your question in our forum.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

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