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SSD Windows 7 or 8, C:\SSD D:\HDD - Symlink C:\Users to HDD

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October 7, 2012 12:01:17 AM

I have the following hardware:
i7 3770K w/ Asrock Extreme4
16gb DDR3
240gb Sandisk Extreme SSD (C: Drive)
3tb Seagate HDD (D: Drive)

This is my home PC that I use for personal photography (Picasa/Photoshop), business (Adobe Master Suite, webapps) and some gaming (Steam, Borderlands 2, random indie games).

QUESTION

====================
Is it worth the possible performance hit I may experience by using Symlinks to relocate my C:\Users (SSD) to my D: (HDD) drive?
or
Would I be better served just sticking to using Libraries to relocate Music/Photos/Video/Downloads to my D: (HDD)?
====================


What I've Tried
====================
I currently have a clean install of Windows 8 RTM on the SSD and I'm using Lifehacker's guide to using Symlinks to move the ENTIRE Windows 8 C:Users (SSD) folder to D:Users (Seagate HDD).

http://lifehacker.com/5467758/move-the-users-directory-...


(On my first attempt, I installed software first (Adobe Master Suite) and tried that guide and it failed. Win8 wouldn't let me login. I formatted, reinstalled and tried the Symlink guide and PRESTO! Worked like a charm thus far after minimal testing.)

Possible Problem with Symlinking c:\Users

====================
1) Temp folder is now physically located on my HDD. I may lose some OS usability speed/feel. I can probably move the TEMP back to my SSD if I cared. However, I have read that moving TEMP off your SSD can be good for the overall "health" of your SSD. I'm not sure that is as important as it was with older SSD's.
2) I've read some things about Windows 8 and the new Win 8 Apps not liking they symlink'd C:\Users folder. I may be getting this confused with people that hack their C:\Users to an alternate drive/location using registry/etc. instead of Symlink.

3) It may just be simpler to ditch the symlink'd C:\Users idea by reformatting/reinstalling Win8 and falling back to using Libraries. Tapping into the ability to put my Win 8 Libraries on my D: (HDD) drive to save SSD storage space is PROBABLY enough. Photos, Music, Video, Documents, Downloads...
3b) Libraries will probably work. Keep in mind, I'm coming from a 640gb HDD Win7 situation where my Picasa (photos/video) and Downloads completely took over my drive over time. I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen again by anything else. Such as, Picasa databases, saved game files?, anything else that goes into C:\Users out of my control.

4) Speed - Putting the ENTIRE C:\Users folder on my D: (HDD) drive may negatively effect overall OS speed/feel. I have an SSD, why not make use of it!

Benefits of Symlinking
====================
1) Free Space City! Minimize the C:\Users folder bloat over time. Well, actually, eliminate it all together. Bloat away on 3tb HDD!
2) Speed - I can install important applications that I use daily on the C: SSD without worry of free space erosion. Same goes for the games I play a lot. I use Steam and I understand that can be an issue as well with its own set of workarounds. I'm going to just assume I don't have too many Steam based games installed at once and stick to throwing them all on my C: SSD.



:hello:  I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read this. Obviously, either solution (Symlink C:\Users away from SSD to HDD vs. Libraries) will work out for me.
Symlink = SSD Storage+, Speed-
vs.
Libraries = SSD Storage-, Speed+ (SSD Storage is only a negative relative to the Symlink solution... and probably only barely in reality.)


Obsessively yours,

DQ
a c 140 G Storage
October 7, 2012 12:18:58 AM

I think what you did should, Yes you will loose some speed when things have to write or read from the hard drive, but the space savings may be worth it.

I do not think Windows 8 should care that much about it.

I use mklink for sharing steam from Windows 7 -> 8 as well as many game folders I had moved from my hard drive to an SSD in the beginning.

So far it has worked out fine.

@ current I just have user folders moved(Desktop/documents/video/downloads and some appdata folders that get a lot of writing)

I know using the custom folder(Always wanted to mklink it.) option in Windows can break unreal based games(cause them not to save, but you can just had -nohomedir to the shortcut to fix it right up.).

I think overall to prevent large amounts of data filling the SSD over time, you made the right choice. You can always reverse it if you needed to as well.
October 7, 2012 4:22:25 AM

@nukemaster,

Reverse it
I'd disagree here. Reversing would be much more involved, near to impossible. Example: I only installed a few apps and had a few things downloaded and my first attempt at the Symlink failed. I think the guide makes reference to doing it on a Clean Windows install. From what I researched regarding the error I got, it has to do with nested/long directories or something. Maybe the Recover Command Prompt robocopy failed at handling them. However, robocopy gave me zero errors. It did list some SKIPPED folders... but the successful Symlink after a clean Win8 install also showed skipped folders. Albeit a lower number. (Something like 45 in clean and maybe 56 in slightly dirty)

But... maybe I did something wrong and reversing would be as easy as following the Lifehacker guide in reverse. I'd just have to wait much longer while stuff copied over.

You seem to agree
Overall, you seem to agree with what I've done. I'll probably install some of my most used software and see how it all fairs. I may even consider moving the Windows TEMP back to the SSD. 16gb RAM probably alleviates any possible slowdown writing/reading to/from TEMP would bring.

Steam / mklink
Got it, I'll consider that when I dig into Steam.

YOU SAID:
"@ current I just have user folders moved(Desktop/documents/video/downloads and some appdata folders that get a lot of writing)"
I'm not sure what "moved" means exactly. Do you mean "mklink" / Symlink? Registry hack? OS builtin function?



a c 140 G Storage
October 7, 2012 4:51:16 AM

Just the built in OS function for my folder. any Appdata(FF,Steams downloading/userdata folder) is mklink

mklink for games and some programs.

I am surprised it would be hard to go back with robocopy taking all the security settings and everything.

I may consider doing some testing with an image(to restore if it all goes to hell).

the mklink for steam is just for some games(not the full program, If you install Steam it self on the hard drive, you can move games you plan to use more or need the speed to the SSD and mklink them so steam does not see the difference.). I have 2 SSD's(3 if you count Win8) and I put some games on the second one(was actually done when I had just a HDD and SSD for games and one for Win8).

I was going to use that setup to copy everything, but never got around to it. For me, what I have right now works.

Also with games, NTFS permissions do not seem to be an issue so I just copy and paste them to the new location before making the link.

You have many ways to do it and even a tool to make links even easier.

http://www.rekenwonder.com/linkmagic.htm

This tool is good for most basic(manual Copy + Paste) move jobs. Remember not to mess with the links windows already has.
!