Reader Gilbert wrote in with a great question no one has ever asked me before. He’s looking for help identifying the D: drive on his computer: Why is it there, what is it used for, and can he store data on it?
Without actually knowing the size and contents of your drive, I can only make a guess — but I’m pretty confident it’s the right one.
Your D: drive is not actually another hard drive, nor is it the letter assigned to a memory-card slot. Instead, it’s most likely a partition of your primary hard drive, a separate area created especially to hold certain files or data.
In other words, you have just one physical drive, but it’s divided — partitioned — into two chunks.
So, what’s on that second chunk, a.k.a. D:? The most likely answer: system-restoration files placed there by the computer manufacturer.
See, few modern PCs come with recovery discs, instead relying on far more convenient recovery software loaded right on the hard drive — and stored on a special partition.
Why use a partition? In part so the software can work its recovery magic on your primary drive (i.e. C:) without overwriting itself, and in part so users are less likely to accidentally delete it.
My advice to you, Gilbert: Leave your D: drive alone. If it has a few extra gigabytes of available space, you could probably house some data there — but why risk it? If you need more storage, pop in a flash drive or external hard drive.
On the flipside, if you don’t envision ever needing those recovery tools, you could always wipe the D: partition and absorb the space into your primary drive. Want more info? Read PC World’s “How (and Why) to Partition Your Hard Drive.”