Drive Letters and Mount Points

Windows traditionally uses drive letters to enable access to local or network drives. For example, the "A:" and "B:" letters used to refer to floppy drives (until floppy drives disappeared from the everyday use, replaced by far more efficient USB memory sticks). "C:" is usually the partition of the 'main' hard drive disk (HDD) where the operating system is installed. If you install two copies of Windows to two different partitions of the same HDD, you will notice that each copy will set its partition's drive letter to "C:". Thus drive letters will be swapped each time you load the other copy of Windows.

Having a single hard drive disk inside your computer, you can still have multiple drive letters. Normally each drive letter refers to its own partition (though it is possible to assign several letters to the same partition, in most cases it has no sense). A partition in simple words is a part of a HDD. If you have a HDD with a certain capacity like 1 TB, you can create one partition that would use all available space or two partitions that would use 500 GB each. Nothing can stop you from creating 10 partitions 100 GB each, or 1 partition 100 GB big and another one 900 GB big.

Ready-made preconfigured computers (notebooks, PCs) usually come with 1 HDD split into 2 partitions, using the "C:" and "D:" drive letters. The "C:" drive is used for the operating system and installed programs, while on the "D:" drive you can save your own data (documents, music, videos). If you need to reinstall Windows at some point, you can use the automatic "recovery" utility that comes with such computers. Such utility would erase all data from your drive C, reinstalling the system and programs and thus restoring your computer to its initial state. Once again, this destroys all your data on the drive C! However, no information is typically deleted on the drive D, so saving documents and other personal files there would be a natural solution. Unfortunately, Windows tends to offer a folder on the drive C for saving documents and other files, which sometimes leads to losing important information when the computer is "reset" to its initial state.

So, using one partition for the operating system with all programs and another one for your own documents, music and videos may help you keep your data safe. But using drive letters is not the only way to handle partitions in NTFS. It is possible to have two partitions with a single logical drive.

NTFS allows mounting a partition to a folder on an existing drive. This feature is quite interesting, though typical users of Windows may find it strange.

Consider that you have a drive C used by your operating system. Additionally, there is a HDD with lots of movies. Instead of assigning the HDD its own drive letter, you can create a "Movies" folder on your drive C and connect the contents of your HDD to it. It will look like you have all your movies stored on your drive C, in the "Movies" folder.

You can create and manage NTFS mount poins in Disk Management of the "Computer management" window.

Mount the partition

Windows requires the folder you select here as a mount point to exist and be empty.


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