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Why is Windows still using letters for drives?



  System drive C: Shortcut to a Windows 10 desktop

Windows typically assigns your system drive the letter C: and assigns different letters to other storage devices. This is unusual – MacOS and Linux do not use letters. Windows can access drives without letters. Why are they used?

Where do the drive letters come from?

  Drive letters C: and D: in a Command Prompt window.

How Many Things in Windows – z How does it use backward slashes instead of forward slashes? The drive letters come from the days of MS-DOS (in fact, even earlier). This is the reason why the Windows system drive reserved the letters C: – A: and B: for floppy disk drives.

Drive letters were transferred to MS-DOS from CP / M, an older operating system. They provided a way to access logical and physical storage devices with files. To access a file named README.TXT on the second floppy disk drive, simply enter B: README.TXT.

The need for drive letters appears on the command line. If there were no drive letters, how would you quickly specify paths to files on different devices? This was the system MS-DOS inherited, and Microsoft has been sticking to it ever since.

Although drive letters now seem less important because we use graphical desktops and can simply click icons, they still play a role. Even if you only access your files using graphical tools, the programs you use must point to these files, which have a file path in the background. Drive letters are used for this.

RELATED: Why Windows Uses Backslashes and Everything Else Uses Forward Slashes

The Unix Alternative: Mount Points

Drive letters are not the only possible solution. Apple's MacOS, Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems use a different method of accessing different partitions and storage devices.

A device can not be accessed by a letter, but by a directory path in the file system. For example, external storage devices have traditionally been mounted under / mount on Linux. So instead of D: access a DVD drive, you can access it via / mount / dvd [19659006<Diesgehtbiszum"root"desDateisystemsLinuxundmacOShabenkeineLaufwerksbuchstabendaheristderBasisteildesDateisystemskeinBuchstabeStattdessenhabensieeinStammverzeichnis/DasSystemlaufwerkwirdan/anstellevonC"mounted"(madeavailable)AndereLaufwerkekönneninbeliebigenOrdnernbereitgestelltwerdenWennSiemöchtendassIhrBasisverzeichnisaufeinemanderenLaufwerkgespeichertwirdkönnenSieesin/homebereitstellenDerInhaltdesLaufwerksistdannunter/homeavailable[19659015<YoucanaccessdrivesunderWindowswithoutletter

 USB drive is provided as a folder under Windows 10.

So, why can & # 39; Do you not mount drives in Windows so that they are accessible via any paths instead of letters? Why can not you access your USB drive on C: USB , for example?

Well, you can! In modern versions of Windows, you can now deploy storage devices in a folder path. This option is available in the Disk Management Tool. Right-click a partition on a drive, select Change Drive Letters and Paths, and then click Add. You can only make a storage device available in a folder path using the option "Mount in the following empty NTFS folder". However, this is possible on Unix-like operating systems.

You must mount the drive in a folder path on an NTFS volume. This NTFS volume must be provided under a drive letter.

 Enabling a drive in an empty NTFS folder on Windows 10.

Even if your drive letters go from A to Z, you can still enable additional storage devices and access Windows towards it. In modern Windows versions, you are not limited to just 26 drives.

You can also change in Disk Management which drives use which letters. However, you can not change the C: drive to a different letter. Even changing a letter like D: to E: can cause problems. For example, if you have a shortcut to drive D and suddenly point the files to E :, the shortcut will be broken.

Why is Windows still using letters?

 This PC view shows C: and D: Drives on Windows 10

If drive letters (such as C 🙂 are an old artifact and Windows can work without them, why are they still used? ?

The reason is simple and explains many Windows designs choices – backward compatibility. Earlier versions of Windows needed to be compatible with MS-DOS software, and modern versions of Windows needed to be compatible with older Windows software. Drive letters are always taken along.

After all, it is quite a mess if you only use drive letters! Technically, it is possible to install Windows so that C: is not your system drive. You could install it on drive G: and have the folders G: Windows, G: Users, and G: Program Files. C: does not necessarily have to be your primary drive. This is officially supported by Windows. Many Windows applications, however, assume that you are using a C: drive. Otherwise, problems will arise. And if Windows applications can not imagine that you do not use C: as a drive letter, imagine how they work if you have no drive letters at all.

You may be wondering why Windows still displays drive letters. Finally, File Explorer might hide it and display only the words "system drive" or "USB flash drive," but File Explorer already displays simple descriptions like these, and sometimes you might want to know the drive letter. Many applications display paths such as D: Folder File.doc.

Sure, Microsoft could invest in compatibility software that redirects all requests for C: to a different path. But instead of discarding drive letters and spending some time repairing things that could break it, Microsoft prefers the drive letters.


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