Home Tech Desktop Local Disk C: and D: What’s The Difference?

Local Disk C: and D: What’s The Difference?


When a disk or partition mounts in Windows, the operating system assigns it a symbol used in the File Explorer or This PC utility. When you launch This PC, the local and removable files will be labeled C, D, etc.

These storage devices can be identified by their factory preset name (Local Disk, USB Drive, etc.) or by a name you gave them when you formatted or renamed them. The C Drive also stands out from other local drives thanks to its icon, which features the Windows logo.

You may need clarification on the distinction between the C and D drives beyond the noticeable visual and alphabetical differences. You may wonder where the best place to keep your papers is, particularly if you’re trying to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

What is Drive C: and D:?

The C: disk is a Windows computer’s default OS or system file. All of Windows’ preinstalled apps and system folders are here. It also creates a separate folder for each individual to keep their program data.

However, D disks are typically secondary storage devices. They could be external media like a USB flash drive or sections of the primary storage device. CD/DVD drives (D drives) are standard in earlier systems.

Local D drives are typically vacant when you first start using a computer, unlike C Drive, which already includes the system data.

C and D drives can share a disk or be on separate disks, based on how many you use for storage.

  • When only one hard drive is available, both hard drives partition onto that single hard drive.
  • You can designate one disk as drive C and another as drive D if you have two drives.

Remember that these symbols are merely shorthand for the standard descriptors. Assigning any letter to any disk or partition is feasible; C: and D: are just used for mounting reasons.

The Differences

Here are some of the most fundamental distinctions between C: and D: folders, despite their similarities.

Default Alphabet Assignment

When you load Windows onto a device, the system automatically assigns the letter C: to the partition that will house the OS files (OS). It will be the only drive in the computer and take up the whole disk if you don’t make any other sectors when setting up the computer.

While setting up Windows, or at a later moment, you can divide the disk space and use it to make a new drive. Unless you alter it explicitly, the computer will assign drive D: as the following available drive letter. Except for the division info, it will be completely bare.


It’s important to note that Windows will automatically assign the first portable storage media inserted as the D: drive if you only use your storage device as a single C: drive. Windows will typically install the partitions on the additional disks after mounting the partitions on the primary disk if there is more than one disk present (with the OS). Then it will start mounting other portable media.

Note: Windows doesn’t use the A or B disk symbols; floppy devices use the A and B drives by default.

Drive Locations

The C drive is usually the first drive in the primary disk. On the other hand, this is only necessarily accurate in some circumstances. Assigning the letter D to the first local drive and the letter C to the second and installing the operating system to the C drive is one example of using multiple partitions on a single device.

You could also use the letter C for the second drive and D for the first.

No matter where the location of the disk, the File Explorer will always display them in increasing drive letter order. Disk Management is where you should find out where the hard disks are usually installed.


Storing Mediums in Use

C and D disks are not specific to HDDs or SSDs; they can be present on any storage device (SSDs). Giving a drive letter to the entire disk or dividing it into multiple sectors is possible.

If you have two drives and designate one as the C drive, the first section of the second disk is typically the D drive. Whether you employ a configuration of two solid-state drives (SSDs), two hard disk drives (HDDs), or one SSD and one HDD.

Performance And Speed

Before the Processor can begin processing them, the required files from the operating system and other applications or programs are put into Memory. The C and D files on the same hard drive shouldn’t cause problems. The location of your pagefile or virtual Memory will be the only limiting element in speed.

Pagefile capacity is allotted on the hard drive by your operating system. Because the RAM must import the OS files more frequently than other kinds of files, it is best to make a pagefile on the same disk as the OS. Place the pagefile on the same disk as these files to improve system speed.


However, the situation is different if the C: and D: files are on separate storage disks. It doesn’t matter what drive letter you use; the faster storage disk will give you greater efficiency for any tasks you initiate there. When possible, it recommends that you use a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a hard disk drive (HDD) as the system disc (C:).

Related: 7200 RPM vs. 5400 RPM – Which is Better?

Files Storage Practices

Since the Operating System files includes on the C drive, it is standard practice to split the disk further and keep the bulk of your data on a different partition, such as the D drive.

It makes perfect sense regarding efficiency, as you can reserve the D: and later disks for the data you use. And it keeps the C Disk from getting too full and slowing down the computer.


If Windows malfunctions, you may need to reinstall or reboot the device. As a result, it’s always a good idea to retain only system files on the system disk because other essential data is lost in such situations.

If you want to keep your games, consider how well they run. Video games benefit from being kept on a different disk than C: for the same reasons as any other type of file, and games benefit significantly from the increased speed of an SSD disk.

If, for example, your C drive is so big that it consumes an entire solid-state drive (SSD), but the rest of your drives are HDDs, you should split the SSD and set up a separate drive for the games.

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Mabuhay Manila, Edmar Consular here! I studied Adobe Photoshop Short Courses in addition to my academic career in Automotive Technology. Here at Manila Shaker, I'm the Junior Editor in charge of writing article reviews, tech news, and video scripts.

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