Renaming Drives and Precautions

I have the following drive leters:

Disc 0 - Drive C: My main drive SSD (Boot, Primary Partitions)
Disc 1 - Drive F: 10G Recovery Drive, Drive G: 400G Program Drive
Disc 2 - Drive E: 1T Backup drive

The current Drives F and G are logical partitions on the same drive. Everything works ok, and I have a only a few of the eventual programs that will be installed. I'd like to have a more logical arrangement of my drive letters (logical to me ;) ). I'm thinking I'd like to have this drive letter order:

Disc 0 - Drive C: My main drive SSD (Boot, Primary Partitions)
Disc 1 - Drive E: 400G Program Drive, Drive F: 10G Recovery Drive
Disc 2 - Drive G: 1T Backup drive

I know I can just rename drive letters, but...

1) I'm assuming that if I have installed a program on the drive, when it was called Drive G, that I need to reinstall those programs, after the name change? OR am I incorrect on that?

2) I don't have many programs installed, yet. Most are installed on the same drive as the OS and that drive's not changing. But I would like to put some of the data files that programs might reference, onto the new E drive (i.e. programs that record and save data files would reference).

Since my drive C is an SSD, I'd like to put as many necessary data files onto the new E drive. But there may be some I'm not aware of. What is the best way to make sure that data files that normally would be on C, because of OS operation and such, are on E instead of C?

I'm at a good point where I can easily re-install the few programs on the drive I'm renaming

3) What is the best way to eliminate any references to the old drive letters, in the registry, that may no longer be needed? I'm assuming there will be some that are still there, that were left, after I uninstalled. I'm just looking for a way to clean up my registry, before I clone my drive and after I rename the drives.

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  1. You are on the right track, all right. But before going any further, you might want to check with the computer maker/supplier. What I do not know is whether the 10 GB Recovery drive MUST remain named F: in order to be used properly when it is needed. That's the worst possible time to NOT have access to the Recovery Drive!

    IF you are safe to re-name it (change its letter), then you can do much as you propose. Any application software already Installed on the G: drive should be un-Installed first to clean them out of the Registry. Then you can re-name drives in Disk Management. Hint: Sometimes you have to re-name them with odd late letters first in order to free up the E:, F: and G: labels, then re-name them again as you want. When done, back out of Disk Management and reboot to ensure the Registry is updated cleanly.

    At this point is where you should tell Windows to change some of its default locations. Folders like Programs, My Documents, etc. can be specified to be located on the drive of your choice, rather than always on C:. Get these changes made before installing applications, because they often use the Windows folders for their defaults.

    When Installing applications, do two things. Most allow you, through customization of the Install, to specify where their key folders will be placed. After they are installed and working, check within them for Locations of Folders like Document Templates, Clipart, Fonts, etc, and set them to your liking. Now you have taken total control of file locations.

    A few applications will not allow such changes, but most do allow it.
  2. Well, I have renamed the drives. I had done it like you suggested by first moving the drives to upper letters, then assigning them in the proper order, to make sure none were ever the same value as any other.

    I have installed only a couple of programs so far. No biggie on reinstalling if necessary. But I wonder if moving data files can be this easy.

    In the registry there is an area called Volatile Environment. In that folder there are several variables:

    HOMEPATH \Users\Mike

    and another called

    USERPROFILE C:\Users\Mike

    I'm thinking that when someone logs on, that USERPROFILE may be "created" based on HOMEDRIVE, HOMEPATH and login name and would be different for each user.

    So, my thinking is, I should be able to simply copy my entire C:\Users folder from C: to E: and then change the value of HOMEDRIVE from C: to E:. That would essentially move everything that is placed in these Users folders, from my SSD to my HDD.

    I have also searched the entire registry and HOMEDRIVE is only referenced one (1) time, and that is where it's defined in the Volatile Environment area.

    Anyone know if this would work, without creating any other problems? The only thing I'm not sure about is if the value of HOMEDRIVE is created when Windows starts, based on some other variable or if it's fixed. Since it's in a folder called "Volatile" it might be a variable that gets it's value upon startup.

    There is another option of just copying the data and using MKLINK to make a symbolic link to the new location. The only thing about this option I'm not sure about is if one can create a link for C:\Users as E:\Users or if I have to create links for each user. Not sure how that works.

    PS: Are there any highly recommended programs that can make a clone (not some similar copy) of an SSD? I am looking to create an exact copy of my main SSD drive, as a backup. I have found backups are not always foolproof but a cloned drive might be.

    The other thing I have found is that backups are rarely tested. One generally doesn't blow away their system, to make sure the backup will actually work. The time to find out that a backup has problems, isn't when you need to recover a drive. ;)
  3. Thank you also for the info. If I only need to rename a single drive, in this case my DVD drive from "F:" to "D:" and no apps are on the existing "F:" drive, do I need to do anything else?
    Thank you.
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