Windows by default uses C drive (C:) for hosting system and application files. You can choose different drives like D: instead of C: while installing Windows on your computer. Similarly, it is also possible to manually change the installed app’s location, though generally users install apps on C: drive. Did you anytime think of changing the existing drive letters in your system? Here is how you can do that in Windows 11 PC.
Default Drive Name Assignments in Windows 11
Let us say, you have two partitions C: and D: volumes on your hard disk. Here is how the default drive letter assignment in Windows work:
- A: – floppy disk drive for IBM computers (obsolete)
- B: – floppy drive for MS-DOS and Windows computers (obsolete)
- C: – Windows and app installation files
- D: – storage space partition
- E: – the letter after your storage partition for CD drive (if CD/DVD drive is available)
- F: onwards – removable storage disks like USB and external hard disks
When you have more partitions on the hard drive, system will use the next drive letters like E: or F: when you insert an external drive. For example, when you have C: and D: drives on your hard disk and insert an USB drive, it will take the letter E: or later.
Changing Drive Letters in Windows 11
It is not necessary to live with the assigned drive letters forever on your system. You can either reduce / increase the drive’s space and assign new letters or simply change an existing drive’s letter. For example, you have 400GB D: drive which you can simply change to F: drive. Alternatively, you can divide it into 200GB + 200GB drives and name them as G: and H: drives.
Windows 11 makes it easy to change the drive letters from the Settings app without using registry or changing system files. However, you can also do the same from Computer Management as with the case in Windows 10.
1. Change Drive Letter from Windows 11 Settings
If you want to change the assigned drive letters for any partition on your hard disk except C drive then this is the option you should proceed with.
- Press “Win + I” keys or use Windows Search to find Windows Settings app.
- Once you are in the Settings app, go to “System” tab and then click on “Storage” option.
- Go down to the bottom of the “Storage” settings section and click on “Advanced storage settings” available under “Storage management” section.
- This will expand the section and click on “Disks & volumes” option.
- The “Disks and volumes” section will show all your existing drives and click on the one you want to change the letter name. it will show two buttons – “Explore” and “Properties” and click on the “Properties” button.
- On the next screen, you can see the buttons for “Change label” and “Change drive letter”.
- Click “Change drive letter” button and select your favorite letter from the dropdown to assign.
The dropdown will show all letters except C: and the current volume. In the above example, we want to change the D: drive and the system shows A to Z letters except C and D. Since D is the current volume, it is not shown in the list. But C is not shown because it is a system volume partition and you cannot change the drive letter for C. You will not see “Change drive letter” button when selecting properties of C drive. However, you can assign A and B for drive letters which were once reserved only for floppy disks. Since floppy disk is obsolete Windows allows you to assign those reserved drive letters A and B also.
2. Change Drive Letter from Disk Management in Windows 11
Though changing drive letter is easy with Windows Settings, it does not allow changing C drive letter. You can use Disk Management app for changing any drive letter with additional features.
- Press “Win + R” keys to Run prompt.
- Type compmgmt.msc and press “OK” button.
- This will open Computer Management app and select “Disk Management” from the sidebar available under “Storage” section.
- You will see all the drives available on your computer and select C or D or any drive that you want to assign a new letter.
- Go to “Action > All Tasks > Change Drive Letter and Paths…” menu.
- On the pop-up that appears, click on “Change…” button.
- Click on the dropdown against “Assign the following drive letter:” option.
- Select your favorite letter and click “OK” button.
Here you will see all the drive letters except D which is already assigned to another partition volume on the hard disk. Though it is possible to change drive letter for C, we do not recommend as it can affect the installed programs on your computer. Most programs by default install under “Program Files” section in C drive. Changing the drive letter may affect the installed programs and they may stop working. In such a case, you need to uninstall and reinstall the program on the new drive again. This will be a big task if multiple programs stopped working. Therefore, choose the system drive when you clean install Windows first time and stick with that. If you are using preinstalled Windows on C drive, then continue to use that without changing. You can change all other drives using Disk Management or Windows Settings app.
If you want to create parition, select the volume and right click on it. From the menu, select “Shrink Volume” option and select the reduced size for your volume. The remaining size will become unallocated for which you can assign a new label and letter as explained above. Learn more about how to create disk paritions in Windows computer.
Assigning Drive Letter to Removable Disks
As mentioned, Windows will assign the available drive letter for removable disks after the current partition volumes. The problem is when you have multiple removable disks, the assigned letters will change every time which may confuse you. The good part is that you can assign a drive letter as explained above for your removable USB or external hard disk. Windows will remember the assigned letter and use the same whenever you insert the external drive. However, make sure to use the letters clearly away from the current and CD/DVD drives. For example, you can use X or Y or even A or B which are generally not assigned.