How do I install my OS on SSD but make HDD the install directory?

I have just built four computers and about to install windows 7 professional on all of them.
I like to use the SSD/HDD combo for how much faster it makes the OS.
But it brings a serious issue to the table.
The OS drive becomes the directory for all files. And so it gets loaded up with space. And for anyone not knowing any better (ie kids, girlfriends), the space gets filled despite repeated begging, pleading, wishful thinking.
Plus it is a pain to constantly have to switch to the space drive.

So not knowing if I have to start this from the install disk, is there a way to put the OS on the SSD so it runs smoother, and maybe the few extra programs when needed; but whenever downloading/installing/updating, have it primarily prefer the HDD? Making the HDD primary with the OS being on secondary?

To reexplain:
I want the OS on the SSD
But the prompting of install/download/update to prioritize on the HDD
Hypothesis: I figure making the non OS drive the C drive may do this, or perhaps having to switch the my User files over as well may not make this possible.
Any feasible solution to this?
4 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    I'm not sure if there is a way to do it automatically as you've described. I just change the drive letter on everything I install so it creates the program files folder structure on my HDD.

    As for downloads, you can choose your default download location in browsers and so on. Also, with documents, pictures etc you can change the location for that by right clicking the folders, so you still access them through your C drive but the actual location is wherever you picked.
  2. You cannot make C drive non OS. By default the OS will install on C drive in WIN 7 or later. This can be done on XP. So make the C drive as system drive, and redirect anything you wish for downloaded content and so on to HDD when installing or updating. The windows update will go on C drive by default and there is no way to change it. The easiest way e.g. D:\Program Files or D:\Downloads.
  3. You will need to edit the registry to change the default installation folder for software.

    run regedit, then go to

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE -> Microsoft Windows -> CurrentVersion

    Double click on the key ProgramFilesDir and modify it to include the new path for the installation folder.

    All non-OS software and updates will then install in the partition\folder you selected.

    OS updates must go to the system drive.
  4. I found this post, and thought I would revive it to help others see that it is possible to move the user files over to the HDD automatically while doing a clean install of windows 8.1 to an ssd drive. It also works if you have already installed windows 8.1.I was looking for answers for a raid setup on another user pointed this link out to me. It is awesome!!
    Here it is:

    I hope this helps out other users. There is no registry mods necessary, except what is done here.
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