Centralizing user data folders in a dual-boot Windows 11 configuration


bfollowell

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Location
Evansville, IN, USA
OS
Windows 11
I just built a new computer and I've setup a dual-boot, both with Windows 11 Pro. One install is for normal computing, work, web surfing, whatever; basically anything I'm using my computer for that isn't gaming. The other is my gaming install and I will only install the bare minimum of apps and only things I need for gaming. I plan to keep that instance extremely lean, clean and organized. I pulled a spare 2 TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus out of my old computer and am going to use it as a bulk storage drive. I plan to move my user data folders there. My question is, can I have the user data folders from both Windows 11 installations point to the same location on this drive and share them between both installs? It would just be much cleaner if I could keep everything in one location, rather than having two documents folders, two pictures folders, two video folders, etc.

I should mention that I'm obviously not talking about AppData or any other more important system like directory. I speaking mainly of Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Saved Games, Videos.

Thanks.
 
Windows Build/Version
Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3085
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom Build
    CPU
    I7-14700K
    Motherboard
    Asus ROG Strix Z790-H Gaming WIFI
    Memory
    G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR5-7200 CL34 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER 16GB GDDR6X OC Edition
    Sound Card
    Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Asus PG279Q ROG Swift 27.0", Asus VW246H 24.0"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440, 1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Western Digital Black SN850X 1 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Western Digital Black SN850X 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Samsung 970 Evo Plus 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Western Digital Blue 4 TB 3.5" 5400 RPM Internal Hard Drive
    PSU
    Cooler Master MWE Gold 850 - V2 850 W 80+ Gold
    Case
    Antec P20C ARGB
    Cooling
    NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB AIO CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Logitech G710 Plus Wired Gaming Keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech G602 Wireless Optical Gaming Mouse
    Internet Speed
    500Mbps
    Browser
    Firefox/Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton
There is possibly an easier way, that I am not aware of. But I would tell Windows in the second install, to point to the user folders in the first install.

This tutorial works for all user folders, just change the folder your working on for each process… Documents, Downloads etc. However I think there is a tutorial for all folders, I just can’t find it. But as I said, this process can be used on any user folder. As I am not too savvy, it’s how I would do it.

 
Last edited:

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 Build: 22631.3374
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Sin-built
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz (4th Gen?)
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus VI Formula
    Memory
    32.0 GB of I forget and the box is in storage.
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6GB
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4 x LG 23MP75 1 x 24" LG M38H 1 x 32" LF6300 TV Monitor 1 x Wacom Pro 22" Tablet
    Screen Resolution
    All over the place
    Hard Drives
    2 x WD something Something 8TB HDD's / 2 x WD something Something 4TB HDD's / 1 x EVO 1TB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB SSD's / 1 x EVO 250 GB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB (External Hub) / 1 x EVO 1TB (Portable Backup Case)
    PSU
    Silverstone 1500
    Case
    NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 Elite Class Dual Tower CPU Cooler / 6 x EziDIY 120mm / 2 x Corsair 140mm somethings / 1 x 140mm Thermaltake something / 2 x 200mm Corsair.
    Keyboard
    Corsair K95 / Logitech diNovo Edge Wireless
    Mouse
    Logitech G402 / G502 / Mx Masters / MX Air Cordless
    Internet Speed
    100/40Mbps
    Browser
    All sorts
    Antivirus
    Kaspersky Premium
    Other Info
    I’m on a horse.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    LENOVO Yoga 7i EVO OLED 14" Touchscreen i5 12 Core 16GB/512GB
    CPU
    Intel Core 12th Gen i5-1240P Processor (1.7 - 4.4GHz)
    Memory
    16GB LPDDR5 RAM
    Graphics card(s)
    Graphics processor is an Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    optimized with Dolby Atmos®
    Screen Resolution
    QHD 2880 x 1800 OLED
    Hard Drives
    M.2 512GB
    Other Info
    …still on a horse.
I don't know why you just don't add a secondary user on the same Windows install. Gaming user, business user or whatever.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 7/10/11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Other Info
    I'm a computer enthusiast so have quite a few systems that I run. More like an advanced hobby.
I don't know why you just don't add a secondary user on the same Windows install. Gaming user, business user or whatever.
It would certainly make more sense and save a lot of space and hassle.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 Build: 22631.3374
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Sin-built
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz (4th Gen?)
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus VI Formula
    Memory
    32.0 GB of I forget and the box is in storage.
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6GB
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4 x LG 23MP75 1 x 24" LG M38H 1 x 32" LF6300 TV Monitor 1 x Wacom Pro 22" Tablet
    Screen Resolution
    All over the place
    Hard Drives
    2 x WD something Something 8TB HDD's / 2 x WD something Something 4TB HDD's / 1 x EVO 1TB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB SSD's / 1 x EVO 250 GB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB (External Hub) / 1 x EVO 1TB (Portable Backup Case)
    PSU
    Silverstone 1500
    Case
    NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 Elite Class Dual Tower CPU Cooler / 6 x EziDIY 120mm / 2 x Corsair 140mm somethings / 1 x 140mm Thermaltake something / 2 x 200mm Corsair.
    Keyboard
    Corsair K95 / Logitech diNovo Edge Wireless
    Mouse
    Logitech G402 / G502 / Mx Masters / MX Air Cordless
    Internet Speed
    100/40Mbps
    Browser
    All sorts
    Antivirus
    Kaspersky Premium
    Other Info
    I’m on a horse.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    LENOVO Yoga 7i EVO OLED 14" Touchscreen i5 12 Core 16GB/512GB
    CPU
    Intel Core 12th Gen i5-1240P Processor (1.7 - 4.4GHz)
    Memory
    16GB LPDDR5 RAM
    Graphics card(s)
    Graphics processor is an Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    optimized with Dolby Atmos®
    Screen Resolution
    QHD 2880 x 1800 OLED
    Hard Drives
    M.2 512GB
    Other Info
    …still on a horse.
I don't see why you couldn't make the folders you want on the second drive and point your programs to those folders. For example, Make a folder on the second drive called My Documents and have both Windows install use that folder. I wouldn't use the move my User folder to do this. As I see it you would just have to point all of your programs to the folders you made. For example if you were using MS Word you could make the folder you created for your documents as the default save location. I have never tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Canary Channel
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    PowerSpec B746
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-10700K
    Motherboard
    ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ax
    Memory
    16GB (8GB PC4-19200 DDR4 SDRAM x2)
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI
    Sound Card
    Realtek Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SAM0A87 Samsung SAM0D32
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    NVMe WDC WDS100T2B0C-00PXH0 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB
    PSU
    750 Watts (62.5A)
    Case
    PowerSpec/Lian Li ATX 205
    Keyboard
    Logitech K270
    Mouse
    Logitech M185
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge and Firefox
    Antivirus
    ESET Internet Security
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Canary Channel
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    PowerSpec G156
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-8400 CPU @ 2.80GHz
    Motherboard
    AsusTeK Prime B360M-S
    Memory
    16 MB DDR 4-2666
    Monitor(s) Displays
    23" Speptre HDMI 75Hz
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe
    Mouse
    Logitek M185
    Keyboard
    Logitek K270
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge and Edge Canary
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
can I have the user data folders from both Windows 11 installations point to the same location on this drive
Yes you can. I would create a partition for my user folders. Then use these tutorials on both installs to move the location of your user folders.
NOTE: THIS IS ASSUMING THAT THE USER OF BOTH INSTALLS IS A LOCAL ACCOUNT. If you login using a Microsoft account,documents, desktop, pictures, videos default to have a location of Onedrive. That be the case, on either installation you would first have to deal with Onedrive.

Move Default User Folders TO ANOTHER DRIVE-Brink’s tutorials(with screenshots)

Use Option #1 or #2 in tutorials to move your personal folders to a new location. The bat file method is easiest but then you have to manually move the files yourself.

Desktop- Move or Restore Default Location of Desktop Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Documents- Move or Restore Default Location of Documents Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Pictures - Move or Restore Default Location of Pictures Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Downloads - Move or Restore Default Location of Downloads Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Music - Move or Restore Default Location of Music Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Videos - Move or Restore Default Location of Videos Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Searches - Move or Restore Default Location of Searches Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial

Saved Games - Move or Restore Default Location of Saved Games Folder in Windows 11 Tutorial
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
I don't know why you just don't add a secondary user on the same Windows install. Gaming user, business user or whatever.
Mainly because a normal use computer that you're constantly installing and uninstalling programs on has a tendency to get itself extremely cluttered and bloated and it slows things down regardless of which user is logged in and it defeats the purpose of the reason I setup a separate gaming install to keep clean and uncluttered in the first place. I'm not overly concerned with 60 or 70 extra GB taken up by another Windows install for my gaming. Using the same user folders on another drive is more about organization than it is saving space.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom Build
    CPU
    I7-14700K
    Motherboard
    Asus ROG Strix Z790-H Gaming WIFI
    Memory
    G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR5-7200 CL34 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER 16GB GDDR6X OC Edition
    Sound Card
    Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Asus PG279Q ROG Swift 27.0", Asus VW246H 24.0"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440, 1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Western Digital Black SN850X 1 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Western Digital Black SN850X 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Samsung 970 Evo Plus 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Western Digital Blue 4 TB 3.5" 5400 RPM Internal Hard Drive
    PSU
    Cooler Master MWE Gold 850 - V2 850 W 80+ Gold
    Case
    Antec P20C ARGB
    Cooling
    NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB AIO CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Logitech G710 Plus Wired Gaming Keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech G602 Wireless Optical Gaming Mouse
    Internet Speed
    500Mbps
    Browser
    Firefox/Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton
Using the same user folders on another drive is more about organization than it is saving space.
I totally agree. I've always kept my user files on a different drive than my system drive and I am big on organization and consistency.

In my case, it's a little different that dual boot. I have my main computer and my old Windows 10 computer I use as a backup computer. It's also my Plex Server. My user folders are on one external drive connected to a switch that I use to switch my monitor, mouse, keyboard and the drive between computers if I ever want to use the backup PC.
On both systems, the default location of my user folders is the external drive.

The drive is also set up as a shared drive from both ends so I can access files from any computer in the house no matter which system I have the drive switched to. Having one drive between 2 systems makes sense for me to stay organized but also to keep my brain straight that I know my user folders are always exactly the same. Doing it this way I have to make images of only one user drive.

I can also utilize RDP if necessary.
Might seem unnecessary for some who are big into using the cloud, but it works for my purposes. I like having all my data local. But that's just me.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
Thanks to those of you that responded with the tutorials. It's pretty much the exact same as it was with Windows 10. Thanks guys! I appreciate it.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom Build
    CPU
    I7-14700K
    Motherboard
    Asus ROG Strix Z790-H Gaming WIFI
    Memory
    G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR5-7200 CL34 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER 16GB GDDR6X OC Edition
    Sound Card
    Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Asus PG279Q ROG Swift 27.0", Asus VW246H 24.0"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440, 1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Western Digital Black SN850X 1 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Western Digital Black SN850X 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Samsung 970 Evo Plus 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
    Western Digital Blue 4 TB 3.5" 5400 RPM Internal Hard Drive
    PSU
    Cooler Master MWE Gold 850 - V2 850 W 80+ Gold
    Case
    Antec P20C ARGB
    Cooling
    NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB AIO CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Logitech G710 Plus Wired Gaming Keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech G602 Wireless Optical Gaming Mouse
    Internet Speed
    500Mbps
    Browser
    Firefox/Chrome
    Antivirus
    Norton

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