In Windows, files are organized in a directory structure. A directory structure is designed to store system files, user files, and program files. The root level of the Windows directory structure, the partition, is usually labeled drive C, as shown in the figure. Drive C contains a set of standardized directories, called folders, for the operating system, applications, configuration information, and data files. Directories may contain subdirectories. Subdirectories are commonly called subfolders.

Following the initial installation, you can install most applications and data in whichever directory you choose. The Windows setup program creates directories that have specific purposes, such as storing photos or music files. When files of the same type are saved to a certain location, it is easier to find things.

NOTE: It is a best practice to store files in folders and subfolders rather than at the root level of a drive.

Drive Mapping

In Windows, letters are used to name physical or logical drives. This process is called drive mapping. A Windows computer can have up to 26 physical and logical drives, because there are 26 letters in the English alphabet. Drives A and B have traditionally been reserved for floppy disk drives, and drive C is reserved for the primary, active partition. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can assign drives A and B to volumes if you do not have floppy drives. An optical drive is traditionally labeled as drive D. The maximum number of additional drives is dependent on the hardware of a specific computer.

Mounting a Volume

With the NTFS file system, you can map a drive to an empty folder on a volume. This is referred to as a mounted drive. Mounted drives are assigned drive paths instead of letters and are displayed as a drive icon in Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer is a tool that allows users to view all the drives, folders, and files on a computer in an organized manner. Use a mounted drive to configure more than 26 drives on your computer or when you need additional storage space on a volume.

To mount a volume in Windows, follow these steps:

Step 1. Select Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management.

Step 2. Click Disk Management in the left pane.

Step 3. Right-click the partition or volume to mount.

Step 4. Click Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Step 5. Click Add.

Step 6. Click Mount in the following empty NTFS folder.

Step 7. Browse to an empty folder on an NTFS volume or create one, and click OK.

Step 8. Close Computer Management.