How to Move Apps from One Drive to Another on Windows 11

Are you facing the dilemma of a cluttered drive, struggling to make room for new installations, or did you mistakenly install a program where it wasn’t supposed to be? Fear not! The process of transferring your applications and games to a different drive is straightforward and hassle-free. Let’s guide you through the steps to efficiently manage your digital life.

Backup Your Windows 11 Computer First

backup windows 11

Before embarking on the journey of moving your applications and games between drives, it’s crucial to implement some safeguards to prevent potential pitfalls like file corruption or data loss.

Initiate the process by setting up a system restore point. This step is particularly vital if the drive you’re interacting with contains your operating system. Should any mishaps occur during the transfer, corrupting your system files, this restore point will be your lifeline, allowing you to revert your system back to a functional state.

Remember, creating a system restore point won’t back up the application you’re transferring. Hence, it’s advisable to separately back up the program or game you intend to move. Secure your data either on an internal or external hard drive, or for added protection, opt for a reliable cloud storage service. This ensures your app remains accessible and safe, even if unforeseen issues arise with your hardware.

Moreover, guarantee that your laptop has a significant charge level, or if you’re on a desktop PC, verify the likelihood of electrical interruptions in your vicinity to avoid abrupt shutdowns during the process. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure the target drive, destined to house your moved application, possesses sufficient storage capacity to welcome the program without issues. Should you discover the available space is wanting, undertake the required steps to liberate additional room, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free transfer.

Method 1: Use Settings App to Move Apps from One Drive to Another

move apps from windows 11 settings

The simplest method for transferring an application or program to a new location is through the Windows Settings app’s Move feature. Initiate this by right-clicking the Start button and choosing "Settings."

Proceed by selecting the "Apps" section on the left, then navigate to "Installed Apps" on the right side. This section will display a list of all your installed applications.

Locate the application or program you wish to move, click on the three horizontal dots adjacent to it, and select the "Move" option.

You will then see the current location of the program and a list of possible drives to which you can relocate it. Choose your desired drive, click on "Move," and within moments, Windows will efficiently transfer your app to the chosen location.

Although this method is direct and convenient, it’s worth noting that it might not be applicable for every app. The "Move" option could be unavailable or grayed out for certain applications, prompting the need for alternative methods to move these apps.

Method 2: Use CMD to Move Apps from One Drive to Another

copy apps on windows 11 cmd

To transfer any application or program using the Command Prompt, you first need to pinpoint the exact installation directory of the program you’re looking to move. If you’re unsure of its location, leverage Windows Search by typing in the name of the app. Right-click on the app from the search results and choose "Open File Location," which leads you to the Start Menu folder.

From there, right-click the application icon once more and select "Open File Location" again. This action will navigate you directly to the program’s true installation directory.

Once you’ve located the program’s installation folder, copy its path and paste it into a Notepad file for reference. Let’s refer to this original path as "old."

Next, move to the drive where you plan to transfer the application. Here, create a dedicated folder for the program. After setting up this new folder, copy its path and also paste it into your Notepad file. We’ll call this the "new" path.

Having both the old and new paths documented will simplify the relocation process, preparing you for the next steps in moving your application using command-line instructions.

With the "old" and "new" paths clearly noted, it’s time to execute the move operation. Begin by launching the Command Prompt with administrative rights. You can do this by typing "Command Prompt" into Windows Search and selecting "Run as Administrator." Alternatively, you can use PowerShell with administrative privileges for the same purpose.

The command you’ll be using is structured to securely transfer your application from its current (old) location to the designated (new) one, preserving security attributes and ensuring a complete transfer, including subdirectories and files within them. Here’s how the command looks:

robocopy "old" "new" /sec /move /e

Replace "old" with the path you noted as the application’s current location, and "new" with the path to the new location you’ve prepared. Once you have tailored the command with your specific paths, copy and paste it into the Command Prompt or PowerShell window, then press Enter.

This action initiates the robocopy utility, which stands for "Robust File Copy." The /sec option ensures that file security permissions are copied along with the files. The /move option tells robocopy to move the files (i.e., copy them to the new location and then delete them from the old location), and the /e option ensures that all subdirectories, including empty ones, are moved.

An example command might look like this on your system (note that your actual paths will differ):

robocopy "C:\Program Files\ExampleApp" "D:\NewFolder\ExampleApp" /sec /move /e

After you’ve successfully relocated your application to a new location using the robocopy command and established a junction between the old and new directories, it’s important to note that the original files may still reside in the old location. This is because the /move option in robocopy is designed to transfer files and delete them from the source location after copying. However, in some cases, especially when dealing with system-protected files or if there were errors during the move, some files might not be deleted.

To ensure that your free up storage space on your original drive, you should manually check the old directory and delete any remaining files or folders associated with the app.

Method 3: Use Steam to Move Game Apps from One Drive to Another

move games to another drive steam

For gamers looking to manage their digital library more effectively, the good news is that most popular gaming clients offer a seamless, built-in feature that allows you to transfer installed games from one drive to another directly. This bypasses the need for the manual methods previously discussed, providing a secure and rapid solution for reorganizing your game installations.

When it comes to relocating games installed via the Steam client, for instance, Steam simplifies the process with its own relocation feature. This functionality ensures that your games are moved properly, maintaining all necessary data intact and significantly reducing the risk of file corruption or data loss associated with manual transfers.

Here’s a brief guide on how to use Steam’s game relocation feature:

1. Launch the Steam client on your computer.

2. Navigate to your game library, right-click on the game you wish to move, and select "Properties."

3. Within the Properties menu, go to the "Local Files" tab and click on "Move Install Folder."

4. Steam will present you with a list of possible new locations for the game. Select your preferred drive or create a new steam library folder on another drive if needed.

5. After selecting the new location, confirm the move and Steam will start transferring the game files automatically.

For games installed through other gaming clients like Origin, Epic Games Store, or Ubisoft Connect, the process might vary slightly. It’s recommended to visit the official website of the respective gaming client or consult its help section for specific instructions on relocating games. These platforms typically have their own version of a game transfer feature, designed to ensure a smooth and straightforward process for managing game installations across different drives.

Things You Should Note When Transferring Apps on Windows 11

When moving apps and programs from one drive to another, there are critical precautions to ensure the process goes smoothly without risking data loss or corruption. Here are the actions you should avoid:

  1. Avoid Updating Windows: Do not initiate a Windows update during the relocation process. Updates can interfere with file transfers and potentially disrupt the operation.
  2. Do Not Install New Programs: Installing other programs while transferring apps can lead to system instability and conflicts within the file system, compromising the relocation.
  3. Refrain from Running the App Being Relocated: Executing the application during its transfer can cause errors, data corruption, or incomplete file migration.
  4. Avoid Altering Drive Configurations: Making changes to the drives involved in the transfer, such as formatting or partitioning, can lead to data loss.
  5. Do Not Modify Drive Settings: Changing the settings of the drives during the relocation process can interrupt the transfer and may result in corrupted files.
  6. Prevent Accidental Shutdown or Restart: Ensure your device does not shut down or restart during the process. Such interruptions can corrupt the app files being transferred.

FAQs above Moving Apps to Another Drive from Windows 11

1. Can I move all types of apps to another drive on Windows 11?

Answer: Most apps can be moved to another drive, but there are exceptions. System apps and certain third-party apps that are tightly integrated with the Windows operating system may not offer the option to move. Always check the app’s settings in the "Apps & features" section of Windows Settings to see if the move option is available.

2. Will moving apps to another drive affect their performance?

Answer: The performance impact depends on the specifications of the drive you’re moving the apps to. If you’re moving apps from an SSD (Solid State Drive) to an HDD (Hard Disk Drive), you might notice longer load times due to the slower read/write speeds of HDDs. Conversely, moving apps from an HDD to an SSD can improve performance.

3. How do I move installed games from one drive to another?

Answer: For games installed through clients like Steam, Origin, or Epic Games Store, use the client’s built-in feature to move games. This ensures that all game files are correctly relocated, and the game remains playable without having to redownload or reinstall it.

4. Is it safe to move apps between drives?

Answer: Yes, it’s safe as long as you use the built-in Windows feature or the app’s own relocation tool. However, ensure that the app is not running during the move and that you follow the proper steps to avoid data corruption. Backing up important data before proceeding is always a good practice.

5. What should I do if an app doesn’t work after being moved?

Answer: If an app fails to work after being moved, try the following steps:

  • Restart your PC to ensure all changes are applied correctly.
  • Check if the app requires any dependencies or settings adjustments after the move.
  • Reinstall the app in the new location if the issue persists.
  • Restore the app from a backup if the problem continues.

6. Can I move apps back to their original drive?

Answer: Yes, you can move apps back to their original drive or to any other drive with sufficient space. The process is the same as moving them to another drive. Just ensure you’re selecting the correct new location when using the move feature in Windows Settings or the app’s relocation tool.

Remember, moving apps and games can help manage disk space effectively but always ensure you’re moving them for a good reason, such as freeing up space or improving app performance.

Conclusion

Following these guidelines will help ensure a successful and seamless relocation of your apps and programs between drives. Additionally, it’s imperative to back up your app data before beginning the relocation process to safeguard against any unforeseen issues. Keep in mind that Windows does not support the bulk transfer of apps directly; if you need to move multiple apps simultaneously, you will need to rely on third-party software. When choosing such software, prioritize solutions that are well-regarded and trustworthy to avoid introducing new risks to your system. This careful approach will aid in maintaining the integrity of your apps and data throughout the transfer process.