Windows XP-Home is installed on my C drive. Will programs, games and so on
run if installed on my external E: drive or do they have to be on the same
drive as Windows?
The short answer is yes, but there are, as always a few caveats and
clarifications I need to make.
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If when you set it up a program allows you to choose a destination drive to
install onto, it shouldn’t matter if that drive is C:, your Windows drive, or
some other hard drive internal or external. For the most part they’re all just
drives, and the fact that the setup program gives you the option means there
shouldn’t be an issue.
For the record, if the setup program doesn’t give you a choice then it may
be an issue and I’d avoid trying to circumvent it.
Now, many external drives are removable. USB drives, for example, can be
removed from your computer either while it’s not running, or after clicking a
“safely remove hardware” for the device. In the later case, if a program on
your removable drive is running, “safely remove” may fail. All files on the
external drive must not be in use, and a program running from the drive is
definitely “in use”. You’ll need to make sure that all programs installed on
the external drive are shut down before attempting to remove the drive.
Now, that sounds simple enough but more complex packages often install
software that runs automatically when you start your machine, either in the
form of explicit start-up menu items, or as system services. You may
not think you’re running any software that’s installed on that external drive,
but in reality it may have installed something that is. You’ll need to figure
out what that is, and take steps to disable it, or shut it down before you
remove the drive.
the external drive are shut down before attempting to remove the drive.”
Along those same lines, if the drive is not installed when you boot your
system, you may get error messages on start up if a prior installation of
software onto that drive also added startup items. Without the drive installed,
those startup items may not be found, and errors may result. Menu items and
shortcuts relating to the software installed on the external drive may also
revert to Windows defaults until some time after the drive is reinstalled.
Finally, don’t expect application portability by installing it to an
external drive. By that I mean that installing an application to an external
drive, and then taking that drive to a different computer and expecting the
application to work on that machine. This may work for simpler applications,
but setting up a complex application is as much about setting up the Windows
registry as it is about just placing files. The registry will have only been
set up on the first machine. Theoretically it might be possible to set
up the software on machine A, then set it up again on machine B if the
drive letters are identical, but I’d expect that to be highly error prone.
since you’re technically installing it on two machines.
So there are a number of issues related to removable media, but if you’re
just installing your software to a second hard drive, and it just happens to be
an external drive, I wouldn’t expect that scenario to be an issue for you.