Ask the Doctor: Where Are My Documents?



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Something that I haven't noticed anyone else ever doing is relocating the My Documents folder. Windows has a neat little trick that has been in almost all the versions of windows since either 95 or 98 on as far as I know. (my memory doesn't stretch back very well to pre ME versions to be honest with you) When you go to the my documents icon in the start menu and right click on it then properties and then move, you can pick a new location for your My Documents folder. You can do the same with My Pictures and My Music although they will be moved along with the My Documents folder anyway. Once you move it, all shortcuts to My Documents will automatically take you to that location and it will not appear to be any different than previously. The handy thing about that is you can move them to another drive either physically located in the computer or even a USB drive attached to the computer. Once you click on move and tell it where you want your documents, you can allow it to move all your existing documents to that location. I have mine moved onto a 300G drive located in the computer and then I run my OS's on cheap 80G drives that I install on removable drives and run a multi-boot system with Windows versions 2000, XP Pro, XP MCE, and Vista Home Premium. One of the advantages is that no matter what I add or remove to the Documents folder, the change is there no matter what OS I boot up into.

When my computer has a major OS malfunction I just boot up into a different OS and run without losing a single thing.

P.S. I run Portable apps on a USB laptop drive so even my browser and email is safe from the OS woes.



I've been relocating my documents, photos and other folders for a long time for safety. If the Windows partition gets hosed, I haven't lost anything I can't replace. I also moved my Outlook Express mail store from the default hidden folder to a sub-folder of My Documents because I got tired of backup programs' being unable to find it.

It's a great strategy, even for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users. Glad you posted this suggestion!


It's amazing how illogical a business built on binary logic can be.



Well seeing as this is a laptop, the slapping an old drive in the case idea is out. It would've been smart to transfer her data to a removable drive or even burn it to DVD prior to even touching the drive. The problem with some partition apps, is that some say that it won't destroy data, and while the warning is there that there is a chance for loss, it's always best to backup ALL important data before you enact any major system change.

Also, being an old laptop, the drive itself might be on the way out. A good indicator from my experience is when the OS starts to hiccup on bootup or has a hard time trying to load things that it usually didn't have a problem with before, it's a sign that the drive may be experiencing some issues and it might be best to replace it.

- mike_art03a
IT Technician
Gov't of Canada



Unfortunately, the safest place to store files during an upgrade is off the original drive, preferably on a drive you can disconnect. I use USB external drives for this job (either new ones or recycled ATA/IDE or SATA drives in an enclosure), but in a pinch you could also use a spare ATA/IDE or SATA drive inside the system and just disconnect the power and data cables to make the drive "invisible" until it's time to transfer the data.


It's amazing how illogical a business built on binary logic can be.

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