There may be times when you need an application to launch faster or have faster access to files and folders. For the most part, this can be achieved by installing important programs and keeping important files on an SSD rather than a mechanical drive. By default, Windows always installs programs to your C: drive, regardless of whether or not it’s an SSD. You can change the default install and download locations, but we’ll get to that later.
The most obvious benefit is speed. Since SSD’s are much faster than conventional drives, there is little to no latency when starting a program or accessing a file. The downside is you have to be careful about how much you put on your SSD since space is more limited than a conventional drive. The best setup is to have a fast SSD as your main C: drive for Windows and programs that you want to run quickly and a mechanical secondary drive for large files and programs that don’t really benefit from being on an SSD. This guide will help you decide which programs you should or should not install to an SSD.
While not all programs will benefit from running from an SSD, examples of ones that would include video and audio editing software, web browsers, and games, particularly online games. Single-player games won’t get many benefits aside from loading faster, but multiplayer games will benefit greatly from being on an SSD. Bear in mind that many games, especially AAA titles, can easily approach 50 GB or more in size. Also, if you do any kind of video capture through a capture card, having the capture go to the SSD first and then to a mechanical drive will ensure you don’t lose any footage, especially when recording 4K video.
We mentioned earlier that Windows, by default, will save and install everything to your C: drive, regardless of its size. Fortunately, this is easy to change. We’ll go over changing default install locations first. On your secondary drive, create two folders, one called “Program Files”, and the other called “Program Files (x86).” Now, whenever you install a program, instead of the default path “C:\Program Files\” you can choose “D:\Program Files\.” You can do this for as many programs as you need to. Games can work a little bit differently, especially if you’re using a game client like Steam or Origin. You can still configure these clients to use a different install location, and Steam can even have multiple install directories. This can be set through each client’s settings.
Next, we’ll go over folder redirection. Ever since Windows 7, Windows has included a system called Libraries (now called Quick Access in Windows 10). These provide quick shortcuts to commonly used folders such as Downloads, Music, and Documents. Not only can you create your own, but these Quick Access folders can include multiple locations, such as a Documents folder on a group drive. To add a folder to a library, simply right click on the folder and choose “Include in Library” and select the library you want to include it in. Now, to change or move a folder’s location, right click on the folder and select “Properties.” Then choose the Location tab at the top and you will have 3 options; Restore Default, Move, and Find Target. Choose Move and a new dialog will open. From here choose the destination drive and folder and press “Select Folder” to confirm. This will move the existing folder to the destination drive and may take some time if the folder has a lot of files. Do this for as many folders as you need to.
The last thing you can do to help maintain the speed of your drives is to do regular diagnostics on them. Using Disk Defragment regularly can help clear up bad sectors and keep your data intact. Another way is to regularly clean up temporary files either using Disk Cleanup in Windows or a 3rd party utility such as CCleaner.