How Can I Separate OS/Apps and Data Transparently?

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How Can I Separate OS/Apps and Data Transparently?

Post by dfrost » Fri May 11, 2007 8:30 am

Sorry for this noobish question.

Many of you have said that it's best to separate the OS/apps from data, and I can understand the benefit. But is there a transparent way to do that with XP or Vista? By 'transparent' I mean something other then "Save As" and then browse to another drive. So I'm looking for a method that would direct/save data to the other partition without constant intervention. Is there some Windows 'macro' or similar that will automatically access "My Documents" on another drive?

My reason: The home (sig system) computer has five users in our family with wildly different computer skills. My wife hates using it, refuses to learn anything more then she has to about it, but needs it for communication with her clients (she's a personal chef) and friends. OTOH my young-adult-aged kids are very computer-capable and use it for homework, games, communication and surfing, but they are horrible about filing info in their own data folders.

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Post by qviri » Fri May 11, 2007 8:35 am

There is a Microsoft tool called TweakUI (I believe the version for XP may be called TweakXP?) that lets you, among other things, change the location of system folders such as "My Documents", "My Pictures", or "Program Files". Pretty handy.

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Post by mr. poopyhead » Fri May 11, 2007 8:41 am

go to the properties of the my documents folder. there should be a "move" button there which will link the desktop "my documents" icon with any folder you wish...

for example, let's assume you have 2 partitions, c: for system files, and d: for data. right now the "my documents" folder on the desktop probably links to
c:\documents and settings\user name\my documents

by using the move function, you can point that desktop icon to another directory, say, d:\data\user1. user1 would never know the difference. whenever he/she saves to "my documents" it will save to the d:\user1 folder. now you can set up each user to have their own data folder, and point each of their "my documents" folders to their personal data folder (ie d:\data\user2, d:\data\user3 etc...)

hope that's what you were looking for.

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Post by nick705 » Fri May 11, 2007 8:59 am

If you want to move the My Documents folder and its contents in one fell swoop, just select it, hold down the *right* mouse button, drag it to whatever location you want, then click "Move Here" from the popup menu. Next time you log on, the new default location will be recognised.

AFAIK this works with any Windows "special" folders. :)

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Post by Devonavar » Fri May 11, 2007 12:20 pm

... with the exception of Shared Documents, which requires a registry hack to work properly. Tweak UI claims to be able to do this, but it's been broken for years. You should be able to Google the appropriate registry keys easily enough.

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Post by Matija » Sun May 13, 2007 5:41 am

I went a step further and moved the Program Files dir to another partition upon installing Windows, with the help of nLite.

Why? Well, if things go horribly, horribly wrong, I can format the C partition with impunity, and just reinstall the OS 100% cleanly. Of course, I'd dump the registry to a text file beforehand. There's plenty of apps which don't even need to be reinstalled or have their registry settings imported back in - you just run them, and they'll recreate everything. If they don't work, just reimport the selected old HKCU keys. If not even that works, they need a reinstall, but you still get to keep the settings from importing the partial reg dump.

Having the Program Files dir elsewhere is also a way to filter bad apps from the good ones. The bad ones will want to install to C:\Program Files or even fail to install. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not trusting something that has a path hardcoded. That's the kind of application that wants to write to HKLM and trample kittens while the user isn't looking.

Also, I have the entire Documents and Settings directory on a third partition (thanks to nLite once again), not just My Documents.

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