How to move installed Windows 8 apps to another drive

If you are using a Solid State Drive as your main drive in Windows 8, you may have found it to quickly fill with data, apps, programs and of course the notorious ever growing Windows folder. It depends a lot on the size of the drive of course, and if you happen to use a 256 Gigabyte or larger drive, you may not run into space issues that easily. Still, it is always good to know your options.

One of the things that Microsoft has not integrated into the operating system is an option to move apps that you have installed from the Windows Store to another drive. This reminds me a lot of how the popular gaming platform Steam started out, as it too would not allow you to install games on another partition or drive of the computer so that you would run into storage issues rather quickly (Valve recently updated that behavior so that you can now install Steam games on other partitions).

Windows Store apps are small in size when you compare them to the average game installation for instance and even lots of programs. The Windows apps folder on my Windows 8 system has a size of less than 3.5 Gigabyte and I have more than 100 apps installed on the system (because of my Betanews weekly series). Still, if you can’t find anything that you want moved the Windows Apps folder may be an option.

You find the folder where all apps are stored in under c:\program files\windowsapps\. Note that the folder is hidden by default and that you are not the owner of it so that you can’t open it or do anything with it.

Move Windows Apps

You need to run the following commands on an elevated command prompt to move the folder to another drive. I would not recommend moving only single apps but that is theoretically possible as well.

  1. Tap on the windows key, enter cmd, right-click the command prompt search result and select run as administrator from the options displayed at the bottom.
  2. First thing you need to do is take ownership of the folder so that you can access it and work with it. Run the command takeown /F “C:\Program Files\WindowsApps” /A /R exactly as displayed. You will take ownership of those files which can take a while as the command is run for each file and folder in the directory.
  3. Now you need to make an exact copy of the folder on the new drive or partition that you want to move it to. Run the command robocopy “C:\Program Files\WindowsApps” “D:\WindowsApps” /E /COPYALL /DCOPY:DAT andchange d:\windowsapps to the drive and folder you want to copy the files and folders to. Make sure that the summary states that there have been no skipped or failed files. Do not proceed if there have been. Delete the destination folder instead and return to 2.
  4. Now that all files and folders have been copied, it is necessary to delete the original folder and all of its data on the c: drive. Run the command rmdir /S “C:\Program Files\WindowsApps”
  5. We are now creating a symbolic link that points from the original folder to the new folder. You do that with the following command: mklink /D “C:\Program Files\WindowsApps” “D:\WindowsApps” Change the destination folder again to match the new folder on your system.

Windows won’t really know the difference once you complete the operation and everything should work just like it did before. The only difference is that all new apps that you install and data that apps generate are now saved on the new partition or drive and not the old.

source: Martin Brinkmann

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