Separate Windows System Files from Personal Data

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Learn how to properly separate Windows system files from your personal data with a dual-drive setup in this easy to follow tutorial.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to separate your Windows system drive and your personal data. I am a big advocate of separating personal data from system files as it’s almost always your system drive that will die from a virus, malware, or simply failing due to age or usage.

What I’ll show you in this guide is how to move the default location of your personal folders (Documents, Pictures, Video, etc.) so that the Windows system will automatically save files on your data drive, rather than your system drive. I’ll also show you how to move your Dropbox default location too.

Contents

Prerequisites

You’ll need either an additional hard drive (data drive) installed and formatted, or a separate partition on your Windows system drive

Move Windows Personal Folders Default Location

  1. Open File Explorer and copy/paste this code: %USERPROFILE% into the location bar and hit ENTER
    Enter USERPROFILE variable into File Explorer address bar
  2. Open another File Explorer window by right-clicking on the Folder taskbar icon, then choose File Explorer
  3. Click on your DATA drive or partition, then create the following folders:
  4. Contacts, Documents, Downloads, Favorites, Links, Music, Saved Games, Searches, Videos
    Create Windows user folders on data drive
  5. Go back to your %USERPROFILE% window we setup earlier
  6. Right-click on the Contacts folder, choose Properties, select the Location tab, then click the Move button
    Right-click on the Contacts folder and choose Properties, select the Location tab, then click Move
  7. Navigate to your DATA drive, then enter your new Contacts folder and click Select
    Navigate to your DATA drive and select the Contacts folder
  8. Click Apply then Yes to the Windows alert box to move your existing files and folders to the new location
    Click Apply, then Yes to move your existing files and folders to the new DATA drive
  9. Repeat this process for all the folders on the list

Move Dropbox Default Location

Dropbox can easily fill up your system drive so it’s a good idea to move it too. Just a tip: do not create a new Dropbox folder on your DATA drive, Dropbox will automatically create it for you when you select your DATA drive.

  1. Open Dropbox preferences by right-clicking on the notification icon bottom-right of your screen (you may need to click the small arrow icon to reveal it)
  2. Click on your initials (in my case it’s RB), then click Preferences
    Open Dropbox preferences
  3. Click the Sync icon, then click the Move button under the Dropbox folder location heading
    Select the Sync tab, then click the Move button
  4. Navigate to your DATA drive and select it (do not create a new folder), then click OK
    Select your DATA drive, then click OK
  5. Click OK to the alert box and move your existing files and folders to the new location
    Click OK to move your existing files and folders to the new location

Conclusion

You should now have your Windows system and data separated which gives your far more data security in the event of a system failure. Even if you couldn’t use an additional hard drive, a separate partition is better than nothing. If you had any issues or need to ask a question, leave a comment below or contact me via socials/email.

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Categories Windows, Hard Drives & SSDs

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