Installing Programs

by Wren McMains

When given the choice I never install software under the Program Files folder.

History: (You might want to skip this :))  Long before Microsoft started encouraging program developers to install software in the Program Files tree, I had developed my own tree structure for installed programs. Prior to this vendors by default created their tree structure at the top, C: level. Net result was too many folders at that level which not only made it hard to find things, but caused trouble because of another Microsoft operating system restriction. Another thing I prefer about my structure is that I've broken programs into categories, making them easier to find. I call the folder where my programs are installed "b" because it sorts after "a", which is how I spelled the equivalent of what later became Microsoft's folder "My Documents", and 20 years ago short names were important to me because I ran into another Microsoft limitation on the overall length of search paths.

Now the reason I recommend you might want to consider this yourself is that Microsoft prevents you from accessing files stored in Program Files from another machine on your network even if you have shared and given full access to the entire C drive. By using your own structure for installed programs, you can use SyncToy or other tools to update program settings and other similar files among your machines.

I recommand a name more descriptive than "b", maybe something like "cProgs" (which sorts near the top, stands for "Computer Programs", and is short which makes SyncToy reports more readable).

I also recommend a level of category folders under this. Mine include: Games, Graphics, Internet, Office, OpenOffice, and Tools.

Usually when installing software there is a "Custom" or "Advanced" choice where you get to specify the folder where you want to install the software.

I don't recommend you reinstall everything, however, next time you get a new machine ...

What I do recommend is reinstalling any program that keeps (in the tree where the program is installed) files you need to backup and/or synchronize across machines. For example: the Signatures and Save folders in Qimage.

Warning:  When installing programs on more than one machine always use the same structure on all machines. The reason is that some settings files contain complete paths ... as long as you've used the same structure on both machines you'll be fine. An example: template files in the Qimage Save folder. (I had foolishly used a different folder structure when I started testing a 64-bit machine. Speaking of 64-bit machines, Microsoft seems to have two different Program Files trees: one for programs especially written for a 64-bit machine and one (with an x86 after its name) for programs which work on both 32 and 64-bit machines ... I originally tried to duplicate this structure but that was a mistake ... recommendation: keep your own structure the same on all machines.)

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