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How do I change data's default save location in Windows 10?

If you don't want to save data in Windows' default locations, there are two ways you can choose new defaults. One is for non-domain joined machines, and the other uses AD.

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Not every user or IT administrator wants to store data in Windows 10's default save locations, but the way to redirect the default data repository depends on whether the device is domain joined or not.

The Windows operating system has long utilized libraries and user profiles to save data. When a user logs on to a Windows 10 desktop, the operating system checks to see there's a profile for him. If the user does not have a profile, the OS creates one. By default, user-specific application settings are stored in the user's profile. His data is also stored in libraries in the profile. The libraries have changed considerably over the years, but some of the better known ones include Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos.

For non-domain joined devices, the best option to change the default save location is to move the libraries. To do so, open File Explorer, right click on the library that you want to move and select the Properties command from the shortcut menu. When the properties sheet for the library is displayed, select the Location tab. This tab shows the library's current location. To move the library, simply type a new location and click the Move button.

It is worth noting that although you can technically store almost any type of data in any of the libraries, they are optimized for specific data types. The Pictures library for instance, is optimized for storing photographs. The optimization affects the fields that are displayed for each file that is listed within the library -- in Detail view. The Pictures library includes a Tags column, and the Video library contains a Length column. When you move a document library, it is possible for it to lose its optimization. You can reestablish this optimization on the Customize tab of the library's properties sheet.

In domain environments, the easiest way to change the default save location is through roaming profiles and folder redirection. These Active Directory-level techniques redirect the user's profile and libraries to a centralized network location. This allows a user's library to follow the user from PC to PC, and it makes it easier to back up the profile and library contents.

Next Steps

Another way to change data's default save location

How to crate desktop restrictions with GPOs

What kind of user profile should you use in Windows?

This was last published in June 2016

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