Question Noob question: I installed a new nvme drive with a fresh install of Windows 10. Can I still run all the programs installed on my old drive?

Feb 27, 2023
The old ssd has all my steam games, lots of mods with delicate file structures, blender, multiple VMs and IDEs, and a bunch of other personalized programs that might be hard to completely reinstall on the new drive. If I navigate to the old drive via file explorer and try to run executables I get errors. Also if I go the windows search bar, it only searches for programs installed on the new drive where I'm running windows. Could someone here explain to me how this all works and what I can do? Thank you :)
You will have to reinstall all apps with the new windows, so windows will know how to execute these. All settings in the apps could be still there. Eventually you can transfer these to the new windows folders, after reinstalling the apps to the new windows.

Most apps store there settings in the three folders found in [old SSD]\Users\[your username]\AppData. Copy the files you wanna try from these folders to your new drive @ c:\Users\[your username]\AppData

apps can store settings in the install folder itself


other apps store the settings directly in the registry of windows, which you could search and copy in the old windows
A lot of apps may have dependencies that require them to run, such as one of Microsoft's billion flavors of their C++ runtime. So it's best to reinstall your apps.

For Steam games, you can actually just copy and paste from the steamapp folder in the old drive to the new one. Though, Steam may not trigger the first-time install to install dependencies. There is a way to reinstall without downloading though.

Most of the settings for apps now and days are actually located in the user's AppData folder (it's hidden by default). Depending on the application, you can also just copy and paste the data from there to your current user folder's AppData folder. I do this all the time with my Firefox folder to basically move the state of the browser around or to back it up for later.