Windows 7 and Windows 8.1: Solid State Drive and Hard Drive Configuration – Changing the Location of Libraries (User Files)


This guide has a complimentary tutorial video.



The solid state drive currently offers superior performance but has a higher price tag per GB. The main advantage of a SSD is when Windows is installed on it as the overall system performance is increased. Standard user files do not need to be on a SSD however as they will clog it up (if its of a low capacity) and will still open relatively fast from a HDD.

Thus in Desktop computers it is recommended to use a Solid State Drive as a boot drive and a Hard Drive for Data Storage.

In newer Laptops its recommended to do this with a mSATA SSD and a 2.5" conventional hard drive.

Launching Disk Management

When you first install a new hard drive, it has no partitions on it and is not assigned a drive letter. It therefore does not display in Windows Explorer:


In order to use it, it must first be initialised via Disk Management.

Launching Disk Management is slightly different for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1/10.

Windows 8.1/10

Right click the start button and select Disk Management.


See Initialising the Drive.

Windows 7

In Windows 7 left click the start button and select control panel and then select System and Security:


Select Administrative Tools:


Select Computer Management


Select Storage


See Initialising the Drive.

Initialising the Hard Drive(s)

The first you will be asked is whether you wish to use the MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table). I recommend selecting GPT where possible and then select Ok.


The Disk will now show up in Disk Management…

It will however now be unallocated indicated by a black bar and hatching. Right click the unallocated space and select "New Simple Volume…"


Select next:


Specify the size of the partition you want to make by default it will be the full size (which is recommended) select next:


You will then be prompted to select a drive letter. In this case I chose "H".


Use the NTFS file system and the default allocation unit size. Give in a volume label if you want.


Select Finish.


The drive will now be displayed as a blue primary partition and will be shown as H in Windows explorer.


Repeat for any other drive(s)

Moving User Libraries

Ensure all programs and files are closed before proceeding.

Open up Windows Explorer and navigate to the new drive H and aerosnap to the left. To the right open up another instance of Windows Explorer and aerosnap to the right. Go to C:\Users\Test

In all cases below Test should be replaced by your username and H by your designated letter drive.


Right click the Desktop folder and select properties


The original location will be given on the general tab.


Select the location tab.

What we are going to do now is essentially replace the drive letter C:\… with H:\…


For example and then press Apply.


Select yes when you are prompted to create a folder.


Select yes to move all the contents.


Wait until you see desktop disappear on the right and the user folder appear on the left.


You may then navigate to H:\Users\Test to the left


Repeat the operation for the main folders:

  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos

You can also repeat for the less critical folders:

  • Contacts
  • Favourites
  • Links
  • Saved Games
  • Searches (may slow down the speed of searches)

For Windows 8.1 you may also repeat this with:

  • OneDrive

For Windows 7 this has to be done via the OneDrive Desktop App and for Windows 10 this has to be done via the inbuilt Desktop App as right clicking the OneDrive folder gives no location tab.


The OneDrive App will be present in the notification tray, open the notification tray and launch OneDrive:


Sign in using your Microsoft Account (sometimes this is necessary even if you are logged into Windows 10 with a Microsoft Account:


Enter your username and password:


Select Change Location before selecting next:


Select the folder you want to move the OneDrive folder to for example:


The App will always call the folder so will make it



Select okay and then next:


Opt to select all folders from your OneDrive or a selected subset. Select next:


Select Open my OneDrive folder:


You will see your OneDrive is moved across from the C: drive to your selected drive. In this Windows 10 TH2 test VM I moved all the locations from C: to E:


The locations of the folders are moved from the SSD to HDD.

What is a Junction and Why are they Needed?

The user directories have been moved from C:\ to H:\ however many third party programs in particular those that have already been installed and setup will have the default save location as the C: drive. This means instead of saving to your new H:\ drive they will re-create the user folders on the C:\ drive and continue to save there. This can cause issues looking for files from these programs and/or fill up your SSD without you noticing. Most but not all programs upon installation will take the new library location as the default save location if they were installed after change of the drive location.

The idea of the next step is to create junctions. When a junction is setup for C:\Users\Test\Desktop to H:\Users\Test\Desktop then essentially anything that refers to C:\Users\Test\Desktop will be redirected automatically to H:\Users\Test\Desktop. So if a file is attempted to be saved in C:\Users\Test\Desktop by a program Windows will redirect the file to H:\Users\Test\Desktop. Similar if a program tries to open a file in C:\Users\Test\Desktop Windows will redirect the program to the new location H:\Users\Test\Desktop.

When junctions are setup you can use your computer as normal without worrying about files saving to the SSD. This step is pretty complex however and will take many users out of their comfort zone as it involves alot of typing in the elevated command prompt. Due to the complexity other guides will recommend recreate the C:\ directories and make shortcuts to them in the H:\ directories which is easier to implement and will work but is "improper".

Opening the elevated command prompt is slightly different for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1/10

Right click the Start Button and Select Command prompt Admin.


The elevated command prompt will then open see Creating Junctions.

Windows 7

Select the start button and search for cmd:


You will see cmd listed under programs, right click it and select run as administrator:


The elevated command prompt will then open see Creating Junctions.

Creating Junctions

The same command is used multiple types to create new junctions:

mklink /j "old location" "new location"

Then press [Enter]

Its extremely important / and \ are used incorrectly and " " and spaces are used correctly. Take your time to type this in.

For example

mklink /j "C:\Users\Test\Desktop" "H:\Users\Test\Desktop"


Once [Enter] is pressed the command prompt will say

Junction created for C:\Users\Test\Contacts <<===>> H:\Users\Test\Contacts

You will see a shortcut appear at the old location, this is a junction which will take you to the new location.

Note C:\Windows\system32> will automatically be added when the elevated command prompt is launched.

Repeat the operation for the main folders:

  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos

You can also repeat for the less critical folders:

  • Contacts
  • Favourites
  • Links
  • Saved Games
  • Searches (may slow down the speed of searches)

You may also repeat this with:

  • OneDrive

Here for example I have typed in the command for all the new and old folder locations:


You can see all the old folder locations have shortcuts to the new locations.


Your computer is now ready to use.

16 thoughts on “Windows 7 and Windows 8.1: Solid State Drive and Hard Drive Configuration – Changing the Location of Libraries (User Files)

  1. Philip, so what happens when I initialize the HDD to GPT? I'm used to running MBR, and when I changed my HDD to SSD on my XPS 8700 back in late 2013, though I first used GPT, because of all of the partitions & it being a 120GB SSD (Samsung 840 EVO), converted to MBR after Dell sent my free reinstall DVD that evidently few realizes exists.

    Yes, Dell gives one a 100% Free Reinstall DVD free of bloatware during the initial 1 year warranty period. This is specially for those who prefers installing an SSD, and the Recovery Disk set won't reinstall the OS on it, for example mine shipped with a 1TB HDD. After disabling Fast Boot, Hibernation & System Restore (all useless for SSD's), using the Free version of Macrium Reflect, was able to migrate everything (even the Recovery Partition) to that 120GB SSD. That's when I discovered Recovery was useless & deleted the partition. Just a couple of weeks later, discovered the Free Dell Reinstall DVD offer & after converting to MBR, clean installed the OS, already had all of the latest drivers.

    So on a Data/Backup drive, does one need all of those funky partitions (one of which isn't formatted)?

    Just wondering about it. Though since then have received another computer, a Samsung notebook) & left the GPT partitions alone. It's faster than MBR, even on older, 3rd gen i7 (though true Quad Core) than my XPS 8700 is. The caveat is that being a notebook, it runs hotter. Though I have lots of experience with purchasing drive bay adapters to add a SSD & keep the original for Data.

    For backups, my preference because of these various 'crypto' threats, is to use externals & a WinPE DVD to create these images on, that way if my PC were to get infected with one, my backups are still safe. Don't have to pay a ransom & don't need to mess with any Tech support, which really is useless in this instance. In practice, on the site where I'm an Advisor, we recommend to backup to externals & remove afterwards.

    Thanks for your hard work, Philip! We've met on another forum also.

  2. "In newer Laptops its recommended to do this with a mSATA SSD and a 2.5″ conventional hard drive."
    This is a new one on me… how many "newer laptops" have physical space for 2 drives? My one-year-old Latitude sure doesn't :(.

    1. My laptop has space for 5 hard drives. Yeah, 5. 🙂 It's an Alienware 17 R2. It shipped with an M.2 128GB SSD and a 2.5" 1TBHDD (7200RPM) for storage. There are slots open for 3 more M.2 drives. So, yeah, there are laptops that have space for lots of drives.

  3. Philip, I'm running both Windows 7 & 8.1 Pro w/Media center on the Dell, it was interesting how painless the upgrade was. Removed 8.1 from the MSI, then using the 'Add Features to Windows 8' in the Control Panel, first enter the 8.1 (originally Windows 8 Pro) COA, it installed & rebooted, done the same with Media Center, it done the same.

    Best of all, unlike the Samsung, no phone activation was needed. It's likely that the Samsung did because the keys had been used on two other computers prior. Yet, following the instructions in someone else's post, I accomplished both with ease. On the Samsung, just said that it had been on only one computer & all was fine, Never had to speak with anyone.

    Yet too many describes moving these promo keys as performing an upgrade install, using generic keys for the upgrade, and then using one's own to activate. All of which is unnecessary if 8.1 is installed, even OEM version. This key makes it a Retail one.

    Anyway, need to get back on Topic, the Free version of Macrium Reflect (V5 was used), as a friend told me, and that's how I got my original Dell OS to a SSD. As stated prior, my only regrets was that I changed from GPT to MBR. There is a speed advantage of running in GPT mode, even if it's a small one. More speed is just that.


  4. Hi, Philip,
    before I ask a question just wanted to say thanks for the best resource on the net by far – without your experience and guides where would us minions be?

    I have a XPS8700 that was configured with a 32GB mSATA SSD as cache and 2TB for OS and storage. Following your guides I have reconfigured the PC with a 500gb mSATA with OS (Windows 10 clean install !) and want to add the 2TB & an additional 1TB HDD for apps/storage. This is where my problems start.

    Added the 1TB HDD – disk management listed the disk, re formatted no problem – everything ok

    Added the 2TB HDD (was the boot disk in my old config) – disk management does not list the drive? I have swapped Sata ports, disconnected 1TB so its only HDD connected and still no joy.

    I then run diskpart (in windows 10) and the drive lists – so I have opteds to Clean All which is running now. Question . . . . once this has completed will the drive be listed in disk management so I can format it and use in my rig? Or am I missing something?

    1. I hope you initially done the Upgrade and then Clean Reinstalled so you don't encounter the Microsoft Product Activation issues. Right click the start button and select system, is Windows 10 activated?

      If DiskPart can list and format the Drive, I don't see any reason why Disk Management can't find it.

      1. Yes I did the upgrade to get new windows 10 key then did a clean install as per your superb guides.

        Eventually sorted the HDD problem as follows . . . .once diskpart had cleaned all, went to manage storage and formatted/created a simple volume/assigned a drive letter . . . bingo HDD now shows in windows. Repeated for 2nd HDD . . . rig now running sweet as a nut. Thanks again for all you do

        Garry Sanderson

  5. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for coming back so fast . . . .

    Yes did the upgrade, extracted the new Windows 10 key with Belarc – then did a clean install, Windows 10 activated, worked a treat. Finished the cleaning of the troublesome HDD and now visible in windows . . . again down to your guide – once again many thanks.

    I am a big fan and have your website is in my favs – I visit everyday so look forward to future updates


  6. In Windows 10, when one tries to move the OneDrive folder per your instructions, one finds that the Location tab doesn't exist.
    A web search led me to a YouTube video:
    I tried the technique in the video on a clean Windows 10 Home install and it worked.

    1. Yes this was setup for Windows 8.1 and needs revised for Windows 10. Microsoft have a Storage option for Windows 10 but it doesn't work correctly.

  7. I ran into a snag when clean installing Windows 10 Pro back onto my Optiplex 740 (vintage PC, yet still runs good). Where I believed the screwup was, when it called for a COA, I used the one that Speccy reported, and it didn't activate, as I later learned that's a mass COA, should have just clicked 'Skip' instead & all would have been fine (or so some has stated).

    Fortunately I had a backup image that I always create before any major changes & also twice monthly, one before Patch Tuesday (that no longer has meaning with 10), so was able to recover, and then performed a Reset from the Settings panel (Update & Security). That's as good or better than a clean install (in essence the same), only we have the option to really long format the drive, like the XP days. A hard drive needs a true format every now & then, but not a SSD. In that case, a secure erase is best, and not the 'enhanced' version, the one that flashes all of the cells clean. The enhanced procedure encrypts existing data for someone to later find.

    Unfortunately, the Optiplex 740 doesn't support a SSD, as the SATA ports are actually enhanced IDE ones, I'm going to try an Asmedia SATA-3 card that I have in the one PCIe x16 slot designated for GPU cards & hope that the card can be used w/out losing onboard graphics.

    If it'll work, then that's another hurdle overcame for this model. Dell doesn't even approve it for Windows 10, had to take some Vista drivers & use 7zip to open the .exe packages to point the Device Manager to for updating sound & graphics. So far, have beaten the odds stacked against me.


      1. Philip, actually I already have the components (as well as three other newer computers) running Windows 10 Pro, so there's no need to spend anything, I have the card already, purchased for another PC (HP dc5800 of same age) & realised that I didn't need it after all. Windows 10 Pro runs on it very well after the 2nd upgrade, but not as fast as 7 was. Still, it's very usable & running on an Intel 330 SSD that was laying around.

        Two of my newer computers doesn't run 10 good at all, especially a 2012 model Samsung Series 7, the upgrade deletes all of the Samsung software & doesn't run well. Those computers are dogged with firmware issues anyway, perhaps one reason they got out of the business. Neither does it run well on a 2011 model MSI FX603, tried twice & 7 beats it hands down. Both computers were given the benefit of the doubt by upgrading a 2nd time with the same results, and both has fast SSD's.

        On my Dell XPS 8700, 10 Pro runs like a champ on a Samsung 840 Pro SSD & w/out question the best computer that I own.

        So really, the Optiplex 740 is just a hobby project, & I love the fact that it has a physical TPM (as does the HP dc5800) & can lock the drives down. A physical TPM is superior than whatever process the 100 to 500MB System partition offers, as I once had 7 Ultimate on one computer, and an encrypted Flash drive would not unlock using any of the three methods provided. Neither the password, printed key, nor file in a partition would unlock it. Fortunately, this was an experiment & all of the data was backed up before encryption, so was able to format the Flash drive & recover my files.

        That's one reason why I'm leery about using Bitlocker on the XPS 8700, there's no physical TPM & I don't want to lock drives down, not knowing what's going to happen. If something were to go very wrong, would be out of all 4 OS's on the PC, plus the contents of my Data drive. There's three SSD's & the one Data HDD. Too much at stake to be running a virtual TPM. Would be great if these were available as an add-on card to the system.


  8. Great Article & information there, Philip!

    Just wondering, should I decide to initiate a SSD as GPT, how would this effect the rest of my SSD's & storage HDD? Would the GPT on the one SSD play well with the MBR drives?

    I was figuring on upgrading all of the drives to GPT as needed, so that I would reinstall any OS's as necessary, in the end, all drives would be GPT. Will be ordering s 512GB Samsung 850 Pro SSD during the holiday season, catching it on promo, this will allow me to condense all three of my Windows installs on one SSD & then have a 256GB Crucial M550 SSD for Linux Mint & my 1TB data drive, half of which also serves as the /home partition for Linux Mint. Yet by adding the 500GB SSD, could & would use the entire 256GB one for the entire Linux Mint install, leaving the HDD for data/Windows virtual machines only.

    The other two 120-128GB SSD's will be removed & installed elsewhere.

    Should I pull the trigger on the purchase & surely will if it drops below $200 USD, may just reinstall all Windows OS's as GPT.

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