Windows 11 manage storage drivesSource: Windows Central

On Windows 11, every storage device needs to have a volume with a compatible file system and drive letter to make it usable. Typically, when you connect an internal or external hard drive, it comes already formatted with the necessary settings to make it plug-and-play. However, sometimes, you will need to manage the storage device manually.

For example, you may need to reformat a drive that was previously connected to a computer or resolve file corruption problems. You may need to change the drive letter or label to make the storage more meaningful for the data you will be storing. Or, instead of using the entire drive to store files, you may want to resize the volume to create additional volumes to store different types of files.

Whatever the reason, Windows 11 includes many ways to manage storage devices, including the Disks & volumes settings and Disk Management. The Disk Management tool has been around for a long time, and it's a console that allows you to view all drives (such as SSDs, HDDs, and USB drives), and you can use the available tools to create, resize, format, and change letters and labels for volumes.

On the other hand, "Disks & volumes" is the new experience designed to replace the Disk Management console. It's available through the Storage settings. It's similar to the legacy console, and it offers an interface to view the drives (if they haven't been initialized), and you can create and delete, change size, format, and choose different letters and labels for storage volumes.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to manage drives connected to your computer.

How to manage drives with Disks & volumes settings on Windows 11

Windows 11 has a new "Disks & volumes" experience to manage storage drives from the Settings app. Using this experience, you can create new volumes, format, change drive letters and labels, and more. The new settings page is meant to replace Disk Management, but the legacy app is still available.

Create new volume

The Disks & volumes settings make it easy to format and create a new volume on a hard drive. You don't need to bring it online or initialize the drive using this interface. The wizard will automatically bring the storage online, initialize, and set a default partition style.

To create a new volume on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to create a new volume.
  7. Select the Unallocated space and click the Create volume button.

    Disks & volumes create volumeSource: Windows Central

  8. Confirm a drive label in the "Label" field.
  9. Select the drive letter with the "Drive letter" drop-down menu.
  10. Select the NTFS option with the "File System" drop-down menu.

    Windows 11 new partition settingsSource: Windows Central

  11. (Optional) Confirm the size of the volume if you plan to create multiple volumes.
  12. Click the Advanced option.
  13. Check the Perform a quick format option.

    Quick tip: If you don't select the "quick" option, the format will take a long time. The reason is that a full format will remove the data and perform a scan for bad sectors that takes the majority of the time.

  14. (Optional) Check the Enable file and folder compression option.
  15. Click the Format button.

Once you complete the steps, the wizard will create a new volume that will appear in File Explorer with a file system, drive letter, and label.

Change drive letter

To change the drive letter from the Settings app on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to create a new volume.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Click the Change drive letter button.

    Change Drive Letter optionSource: Windows Central

  9. Choose the new drive letter for the volume.

    Choose new drive letterSource: Windows Central

  10. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, the new letter will apply to the drive.

Change volume label

To change the volume label on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to create a new volume.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Click the Change label button.

    Change drive labelSource: Windows Central

  9. Confirm a new label for the drive.

    Change volume labelSource: Windows Central

  10. Click the Apply button.

Once you complete the steps, the new label will be reflected on the drive across the Windows 11 experience.

Format drive

To format a drive with a new volume and file system with the Disks & volumes settings, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to format.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Under the "Format" section, click the Format button.

    Settings format optionSource: Windows Central

  9. Confirm a drive label in the "Label" field.
  10. Select the NTFS option with the "File System" drop-down menu.

    Windows 11 Settings format driveSource: Windows Central

  11. Check the Perform a quick format option.
  12. (Optional) Check the Enable file and folder compression option.
  13. Click the Format button.

After you complete the steps, the data will be erased, and the volume will be formatted with a new file system, drive letter, and label.

Change file system

You can also change the file system from NTFS to FAT32, but the process will delete everything on the storage. As a result, it's recommended to back up any important data before proceeding.

To change the partition file system on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to change the file system on Windows 11.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Under the "Format" section, click the Format button.

    Settings format optionSource: Windows Central

  9. Confirm a drive label in the "Label" field.
  10. Select the NTFS or FAT32 option with the "File System" drop-down menu.

    Change file system Source: Windows Central

  11. Check the Perform a quick format option.
  12. (Optional) Check the Enable file and folder compression option.
  13. Click the Format button.

Once you complete the steps, the new file system will apply to the volume, and it'll appear as an empty drive in File Explorer.

Change volume size

To change the size of a volume on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to change the volume size on Windows 11.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Click the Change size button.

    Change drive size on Windows 11Source: Windows Central

  9. Specify the new size (in megabytes) to shrink or expand the space of the volume.

    Shrink or expand volumeSource: Windows Central

  10. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, the volume will appear with the new size on the system.

Mount drive as folder

On Windows 11, you can also mount a drive as a folder instead of using a drive letter to reduce the number of system drives.

To mount a drive as a folder on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to mount as a folder on Windows 11.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Under the "Paths" section, click the Add button.

    Drive Paths OptionSource: Windows Central

  9. Click the Browse button.

    Mount drive as a folder on Windows 11Source: Windows Central

  10. Open the location to mount the volume.
  11. (Optional) Click the New folder button and confirm a name for the folder — for example, data_mount_point.
  12. Click the Select folder button.
  13. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, you will be able to access the files from the folder path and the drive letter.

Check drive properties

To view the drive properties to determine the model, serial number, and other information, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive and click the Properties button.

    Open drive propertiesSource: Windows Central

  7. Confirm drive information, such as drive ID, manufacturer, model, serial number, media type, etc.

    Drive propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. (Optional) Click the Advanced Disk Properties option to view the legacy information, details, and event information.

After you complete the steps, you will be able to confirm many details about the hard drive, including serial and model numbers and other information.

Check drive health (SSD only)

Windows 11 can also monitor the health of solid-state drives (SSDs) and report any problems before a critical error occurs to give you enough time to back up your data before it's too late. However, you can check the estimated remaining life, spare information, and temperature at any time.

To check the drive health on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive and click the Properties button.

    Open SSD propertiesSource: Windows Central

  7. Confirm the drive health, including estimated remaining life and temperature.

    SDD health information on Windows 11Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, you will have a better understanding of the current health of the drive.

Check volume properties

To check the volume information on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive to view the volume information.
  7. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  8. Confirm the volume properties, such as label, letter, type, file system, status, and more.

    Volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, you will find detailed information about the volume.

Covert partition style to GPT or MBR

GUID Partition Table (GPT) and Master Boot Record (MBR) are partition styles that define how data is stored on drives. The MBR is the legacy style required for the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) and supports up to 2TB of storage and four partitions. The GPT style overcomes the limitations for drives up to 9.4ZB and supports 128 primary partitions, and it's the style required for devices using Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).

Although the partition style should already be GPT, you may still come across volumes partitioned using the legacy MBR. If you must change partition styles, you can perform this task from the drive settings. However, it's recommended to back up any data as changing partition styles will completely erase the drive.

To convert a secondary drive from MBR to GPT, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive and click the Properties button.

    Open SSD propertiesSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the Convert to GPT button.

    Convert to GPT from Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

    Quick tip: If the option isn't available, click the Take offline and Bring online buttons.

Once you complete the steps, the partition type will convert to GPT. If the partition is already using the GPT style, you can also switch to the MBR (if needed).

If you plan to upgrade to Windows 11, you can convert an MBR drive to GPT with these instructions.

Bring drive online or take offline

To turn the drive on or off without disconnecting it on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the drive and click the Properties button.

    Open SSD propertiesSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the Take offline button.

    Take drive offline or bring onlineSource: Windows Central

  8. Click the Bring online button.

After you complete the steps, the drive will go offline or come back up online, depending on the action.

Delete volume on drive

To delete a drive volume and its data on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

    Open Storage settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Under the "Storage management" section, click on Advanced storage settings.
  5. Click the "Disks & volumes" settings.

    Open Disks & volumesSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the available volume and click the Properties button.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the Delete button.

    Windows 11 delete volumeSource: Windows Central

  8. Click the Delete volume button.

Once you complete the steps, the data will be erased, and the volume deleted from the hard drive.

How to manage drives with Disk Management settings on Windows 11

Windows 11 still includes Disk Management, which is the legacy interface to manage primary, secondary, and removable drives connected to your computer. Similar to the new Disks & volumes experience, Disk Management has the tools to set up new volumes, including formatting, changing labels and letters, enabling compression, and changing volume size.

Initialize drive

When you connect a drive with raw data, meaning that it was never formatted, you will first need to initialize it.

To initialize a hard drive on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the disk and select the Initialize Disk option (if you are not prompted automatically).

    Initialize diskSource: Windows Central

  4. Select the disk from the list (if applicable).
  5. Choose the partition type:

    • MBR (Master Boot Record).
    • GPT (GUID Partition Table) (recommended).

    Start disk as GPTSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, the hard drive will initialize, allowing the system to connect with the storage to manage partitions and data.

Convert to Dynamic Disk

The Disk Management tool also lets you start a drive as "Basic Disk" or "Dynamic Disk." A "Basic Disk" is the default option when initializing a drive that allows you to manage partitions and data. However, you can also convert the storage to a "Dynamic Disk" to take advantage of many other storage features. For example, you may need to convert a drive to dynamic to set up simple, spanned, striped, mirrored, and RAID 5 volumes.

This is a non-destructive process, which means that you should be able to convert the drive without worrying about the data. However, it's still recommended to create a backup of data before proceeding.

If you must convert from Basic to Dynamic Disk on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the disk and select the Convert to Dynamic Disk option.

    Convert to Dynamic DiskSource: Windows Central

    Quick note: You can also convert the storage drive. You can't convert bootable drives that contain an installation of Windows.

  4. Select the disk from the list (if applicable).

    Select disk to convert dynamicSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the drive will become dynamic to allow you access to other storage features, such as mirror, stripped, and parity, and you will also have the ability to expand the storage across multiple drives.

Create new volume

To create a new data volume with Disk Management, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the unallocated space and select the New Simple Volume option.

    Create new simple volume optionSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the Next button.
  5. (Optional) Confirm the volume size if you plan to create multiple volumes.

    Specify volume sizeSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Next button.
  7. Select the Assign the following drive letter option.
  8. Choose a letter for the drive.

    Assign the following drive letterSource: Windows Central

  9. Click the Next button.
  10. Select the Format this volume with the following settings option.
  11. Select the NTFS option with the "File System" drop-down menu.

    Format partition settingsSource: Windows Central

  12. Select the Default option with the "Allocation unit size" drop-down menu.
  13. Confirm a drive label in the "Volume label" field.
  14. Check the Perform a quick format option.
  15. (Optional) Check the Enable file and folder compression option.
  16. Click the Next button.
  17. Click the Finish button.

After you complete the steps, you will end up with a new volume that will appear in File Explorer with a file system, drive letter, and label you specified.

Change drive letter

To change the letter of drive with Disk Management, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths option.

    Change drive letter and pathsSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the Change button.

    Change drive letter buttonSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the Assign the following drive letter option.
  6. Choose a letter for the drive.

    Assign new drive letterSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the letter will be reflected on the drive.

Change drive label

To change the display name of the drive on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Properties option.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Change the label for the drive.

    Change drive levelSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, the label will appear on the hard drive.

Format drive

To format a hard drive with a new volume and file system on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Format option.

    Open format optionSource: Windows Central

  4. Confirm a drive label in the "Volume label" field.
  5. Select the NTFS option with the "File System" drop-down menu.
  6. Select the Default option with the "Allocation unit size" drop-down menu.

    Disk Management format settingsSource: Windows Central

  7. Check the Perform a quick format option.
  8. Click the Apply button.
  9. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the tool will wipe out the drive, and it will create a new volume formatted with a new file system, drive letter, and label you specified.

Enable file compression

The NTFS file system available on Windows 11 also includes a lightweight compression feature, which allows you to reduce the size of files and save space while retaining normal access without manual decompression. Since compression and decompression happen on the fly, enabling this feature will require additional system resources. If you have a hard drive with multiple terabytes of storage and don't store any files, you may not benefit from this feature.

To enable file compression at the drive level on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Properties option.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Check the Compress the drive to save disk space option.

    Compress the drive to save disk spaceSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, files and folders that you store on the drive will use compression to reduce the space usage.

Change file system

Similar to using the Settings app, it's also possible to use Disk Management to change the file system. However, the process will erase everything on the drive. If you have important data, it's recommended to export the files to an alternate location, format the drive with the new file system, and restore the files.

To change the partition file system with Disk Management, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Format option.

    Open format optionSource: Windows Central

  4. Confirm a drive label in the "Volume label" field.
  5. Select the NTFS or FAT32 option with the "File System" drop-down menu to change the file system.

    Change file system format with Disk ManagementSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the Default option with the "Allocation unit size" drop-down menu.
  7. Check the Perform a quick format option.
  8. Click the Apply button.
  9. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the data on the hard drive will erase, and the new file system will apply.

Change volume size

The Disk Management console includes an option to shrink or extend the size of the drive to manage multiple volumes on the same drive.

To change the size of a volume on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Shink Volume option.

    Open Shrink volume settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Specify the new size (in megabytes) to shrink or expand the space of the volume.

    Shrink volume settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the Shrink button.

After you complete the steps, the volume will appear with the new size on the computer.

Mount drive as folder

To mount a drive as a folder path on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths option.

    Change drive letter and pathsSource: Windows Central

  4. Select the current drive letter option.
  5. Click the Remove button.

    Remove Drive LetterSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Yes button.
  7. Right-click the volume and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths option.
  8. Click the Add button.

    add folder path to driveSource: Windows Central

  9. Select the Mount in the following empty NTFS folder option.
  10. Click the Browse button.

    Mount in the following empty NTFS folderSource: Windows Central

  11. Open the location to mount the volume.
  12. (Optional) Click the New folder button and confirm a name for the folder — for example, data_mount_point.
  13. Click the Select folder button.
  14. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the volume will be accessible from a different drive as a folder.

Check drive properties

To check the hard drive properties with Disk Management, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the drive and select the Properties option.

    Open Drive PropertiesSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Confirm details like device type, manufacturer, and location.

    Drive General SettingsSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Volumes tab.
  7. Confirm disk number, type, status, partition style, capacity, and more.

    Volume Information Source: Windows Central

  8. Click the Driver tab.
  9. Confirm the device driver information.

    Drive Driver InformationSource: Windows Central

  10. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, you will better understand the properties of the physical drive.

Check volume properties

To check the volume properties, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Properties option.

    Open volume propertiesSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Confirm details like storage usage, file system, and type.

    Volume Details Disk ManagementSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, you will have detailed information about the volume.

Covert partition style to GPT or MBR

The conversion will delete the data on the drive. As a result, it's recommended to back up any data before proceeding. You can always restore the data after the process.

To convert a secondary drive from MBR to GPT on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Delete Volume option.

    Disk Management Delete VolumeSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the Yes button to confirm.
  5. Right-click the drive and select the Convert to GPT Disk option to convert it to GPT.
  6. Right-click the drive and select the Convert to MBR Disk option to convert it to MBR.

    Convert to MBR DiskSource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the partition type will convert to GPT. You can also use the same instructions to convert the drive to MBR.

Bring drive online or take offline

To bring a drive online or take offline with Disk Management, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the drive and select the Offline option to take the drive offline.

    Take drive offline Disk ManagementSource: Windows Central

  4. Right-click the drive and select the Online option to bring the drive online.

After you complete the steps, the hard drive will go offline or come back up online, depending on the action.

Delete volume

If you want to delete the data and volume on a hard drive, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management app.
  3. Right-click the volume and select the Delete Volume option.

    Disk Management Delete VolumeSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the Yes button.

Once you complete the steps, the files and folders will be deleted and the volume erased from the storage drive.

Although it's possible to format, review details, and change various settings from within File Explorer, the Disks & volumes settings and the Disk Management console offer the most options to manage storage drives on Windows 11.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources: