NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, July 2008
Hasta la Vista - Customize Your Data Locations
By Lee Reynolds, a member of the Broward Personal Computer Association, Florida
LeeTutor(at)earthlink.net (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

I'm told the literal meaning of "hasta la vista" in Spanish is "until the seeing." Or maybe a more adequate translation is "see you later". But in this column, I'm using that phrase to invite you to take a look at Microsoft's latest version of Windows: Vista.

If you take a look at the new Vista Start Menu, one change from Windows XP you will see is that there is a link at the top of it which is your account name. If you click on that, you will open up a Windows Explorer window, which shows all your user folders, such as:


In Details view, this is handy since one column shows the Folder path for each of these. Most of the folders will be on your boot drive (normally, C:) in this path:

C:\Users\, where , of course, is your account name.

There are several entries in this list which have the little "shortcut" arrow in their icons, for example:

Application Data
Local Settings
My Documents
Send To
Start Menu

If you click on any of these shortcuts, except Recent, you will immediately be presented with an error message: " is not accessible Access is denied", then you have to click the OK button to dismiss the message.

All of those shortcuts are there for compatibility reasons, in order for the system to be able to access certain locations that were used in Windows XP. The actual path of each of those locations has changed in Windows Vista. For example, the folder that was accessed in this way in Windows XP C:\Documents and Settings\\My Documents is now here in Vista: C:\Users\\Documents.

Backup and Partitioning
I like to backup my entire system periodically with a drive image program from Acronis called True Image.

However, I also like to try and keep most of my data separate from the program files and windows system files making up the boot drive.

I took advantage of the built-in drive partitioning software of Vista (more about this in another article), in order to create several other partitions on my C: drive, and one of these is reserved for storing the contents of such folders as Documents, Favorites, Music, and Pictures. (I did something similar for an old computer using Windows XP.) This not only reduces the size of the backup image of my boot drive, it also makes it much easier to backup my rapidly changing data to CD-RWs or DVD-RWs.

In Windows XP, in order to move the data locations to another partition, I was forced, in some cases, to edit the registry. In Windows Vista, this is no longer necessary.

There is a Windows user interface to change folder locations of your user account profile. Just right click on your Documents folder, for example: Select Properties from the context menu, and then you will see a new tab in the folder properties windows called Location.

Click on that tab, and you will now see this message: You can change where files in this folder are stored to another place on this hard drive, another drive, or even another computer on your network.

All you have to do is type in the new location, and click OK. You will then be presented with a message, asking if you want to move all of the files from the old location to the new location, and recommending that you do so, or else you will see two of the designated folders in your profile.

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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