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How to install a UWP app on an external drive on Windows 10

SSDs are becoming common but for most consumers, the price of an SSD forces them to use one of a smaller capacity. That also means that they use it either with an internal HDD or an external drive. The external drives can be used for storing documents, movies, images, and more. The OS is installed on the SSD so that it runs better. With Windows 10, you can choose to install desktop apps on any drive you want. With UWP apps you never have that option. You can however move a UWP app once it’s installed which is key if you want to install a UWP app on an external drive.

UWP on an external drive

Connect your external drive to your Windows 10 PC/laptop. Make sure that it is detected and that it shows up in File Explorer. The drive should have a reasonable amount of space to accommodate the app and some free space as well to be on the safe side.

Open the Settings app on Windows 10 and go to the Apps group of settings. Wait for the list of apps to populate and then click the app that you want to move. The app will expand and reveal a Move button. Click it, and then select your external drive from the dropdown. Click move.

Once the app has been moved, it will run from your external drive. This will come with some limitations.

For one, you will not be able to eject the external drive. You will repeatedly see the message that the drive/device is in use even if no apps are open. This is because the OS i.e., Windows 10 is accessing the app. It doesn’t matter if the app is closed. You will need to shut down your system before you can safely remove the external drive.

When you remove the external drive, the app icon for the app that you moved to it will appear greyed out with an exclamation mark. This indicates that the app is uninstalled or the installation is corrupted. It cannot be launched. In order to fix the problem in this particular case, you will have to connect your external drive again. Once the drive is connected, wait a few seconds and the tile will go back to normal. You will be able to use it to open the app.

If you ever want to move the app back to your Windows drive, or a different internal drive, you can do so by connecting the external drive and using the same move option in the Settings app.

While this feature is safe to use, you should exercise caution when dealing with apps that store sensitive data. Back the data up so that it isn’t lost when you disconnect your external drive.

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