Can external hard drives be used to access/start programs?

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Old 02-14-06, 08:01 PM
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Can external hard drives be used to access/start programs?

Was wondering if an external hard drive can be used not only to store programs but be able to start a program from the external drive? Such as if I do a backup to the external drive, can I start them from there?

In my layman way of thinking, can you not only store a program on the external, DELETE the program from your main PC, but if you desire, activate or start that program from the external drive, without having to use a CD?

I am finding that some programs are just hogging space on the PC and I would like to free up space to only those that I use consistently. I feel like it might be carrying a 3 ton load in a 1/2 ton pickup!! I do design and drafting so doing 3D renderings and quick line perspectives are important. I am wanting to improve the time lapse of doing these. I am assuming that the more I carry on the main PC that I could be losing some performance. Am I wrong in my thinking on this?

I am running;

Windows XP Professional
3.60 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4
16 kilobyte primary memory cache
1024 kilobyte secondary memory cache
2046 Megabytes Installed Memory
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 [Display adapter]
PLEXTOR DVDR PX-716A [CD-ROM drive]
TEAC DV-516D [CD-ROM drive]
3.5" format removeable media [Floppy drive]

Doug Aleshire [Hard drive] (120.03 GB) -- drive 0
USB 2.0 Storage Device USB Device [Hard drive] (300.07 GB) -- drive 1

c: (on drive 0) 41.94 GB 8.70 GB free
d: (on drive 0) 78.08 GB 26.95 GB free
f: (on drive 1) 300.07 GB 182.57 GB free

Hope this makes sense!
 
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Old 02-14-06, 08:47 PM
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are you running s.a.t.a. drives? you probably should either add another drive, or install a bigger main drive. you might think about taking some free space from d and giving it back to c. you want to try and balance your programs from drive/partition to drive/partition as much as you can. Anyway, your external drive should act just like any other drive. If it's data, it will store ok, but if it's an installable, you need to make sure during the install process you point it to the external drive.
 
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Old 02-15-06, 02:11 AM
bf140-Albert
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Sure -- with a reservation.

Sure -- with a reservation. The processor can't tell the difference between an external and an internal drive as far as we are concerned here. You can do everything with one as the other.

Now the reservation. You can't simply move most Windows installed programs from one drive to another. Applications these days are actually clusters of programs and data files needed to execute properly. A .DLL file, for example, is a subroutine library containing program code the application developers set aside for use as needed. Most applications update the system registry with location dependent information about where to find resources. If you simply look in \Program Files\Manufacturer\Product\ ... etc. and move an application to another drive it may stop working properly.

What you do instead is create a "\Program Files" directory on your new HD. Then uninstall the application and install it again using your external drive as the destination directory for the software.

I create a "\Program Files" directory for consistency. It is a personal preference of mine I like to do because I think it makes the computer easier to manage. I can find installed software again without a lot of trouble remembering where I might have installed it.

Continue creating and handling data directories and files as you would on your internal drive.
 
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Old 02-15-06, 03:08 PM
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Yes. If you install the program on the external drive.
 
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Old 02-16-06, 07:37 PM
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Either if you USB drive is consistantly assigned the same letter (and you are using it on the same computer), or it is a standalone app, sure.

If you wan to run an "installed" type app on a number of computers, you ought to check its EULA first, but genrerally you cannot, in that case.
 
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Old 02-16-06, 07:49 PM
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classicsat and others,

Appreciate all the responses!

So if I have a program currently on Drive C (on pc) and want to copy it to an external hard drive, it would not work unless you installed it on the external with a disk, correct?

If a program was purchased via a download from a vendor, I could download it to the external and it would be just fine?

Basically, anything on Drive C cannot be copied (let's assume a program that was on a CD originally) to external and be opened from the external drive UNLESS you used a CD to download it on the external?

The idea is to free up more space on Drive C.

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-16-06, 09:52 PM
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basically it would need to be "installed" on the external drive. Some programs have folders where they store most info, and you could leave the exe program on c,but put the folders on external, saving some space,but could get confusing. Sometimes programs will do everything they can to install to c.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 02:26 AM
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I like to save downloaded programs in a folder I simply call "Download". I create a subdirectory for each program to store the installation procedures. "C:\Download\HP Deskjet Software", for example. I still have the installation materials if I ever have to reinstall the program again. It's also a kind of defense against the possibility that the originator of some piece of shareware I like might vanish making it impossible to download it again.

Simply use "Add or Remove Programs" to get rid of the copy you don't want on the C: drive any more and then rerun the installation from the Download folder.

Do the same thing for applications you installed from a CD.

A word of caution: Make sure you know where your data is before you uninstall anything. It might be in the same folders as the software if you have not created special data folders to put it in. Move the data out of the way before you delete anything. This is to make sure Uninstall doesn't wipe out your work along with the copy of the program you don't want. Put these files back where you can use them in the new location.

After you are satisfied that the program is installed properly on your external drive, check its old location on the C: drive. Remove the program files if you find they are still there. Limit yourself to C:\Program Files\[application directories] or C:\[application directories]. Don't try to get rid of DLLs or other files that might be in the Windows system directories.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 06:44 PM
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Why clean up space on C? Yes, uninstall things you don't use anymore, unused temp files and things, but move your data over to the USB drive instead, that will be easier.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 06:51 PM
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classicsat,

Pardon me but I need clarification here.

You say "move" but am I assuming that I need to use installation CD's for those programs that I want to remove from Drice C (on the PC) and install on the external.

Am I wrong in that I cannot just move them over to the external?
 
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Old 02-17-06, 07:18 PM
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Not all programs need to be installed. Some programs can be run from anywhere.

Programs that need to be installed generally make entries in the registry, or put files in one of the Windows directories, or change the OS in some way, such as registering file extensions or setting file associations.

Programs that do not need to be installed can be moved just about anywhere, even if they have a directory full of files, so long as the directory of files is also moved.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 07:21 PM
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racraft,

Thanks Racraft. Now the issue is, which programs can be move and which cannot?

My assumption is that most programs create a registry, right?
 
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Old 02-18-06, 07:29 AM
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Generally speaking, programs that are large and include many files cannot be moved. This is not always the case.

Yes, most programs create registry entries or place dll files into the system repository or in some other way "install" themselves.

The easiest way to see if a program will run when you move it is to copy it to a different drive or to a different location on the same drive, and then try to run it. You can even simulate this by renaming the directory the program is installed on and trying to run it. If it runs, then great, if it doesn't it will probably tell you what it can't find, or what might be missing.

Sometimes, a program will run if it has not been installed, but you may not have all the bells and whistles. For example, if a program normally registers file associations, it may run without installation, but the file extension won't exist in the OS.
 
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Old 02-18-06, 07:43 AM
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Bob,

Thanks! I'll give it a try!
 
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