With Windows 23H2, Microsoft added several new features to its OS. One of these, which is getting a lot of attention is the ability to create a Dev Drive, which can be quite useful for developers and programmers.

What is a Dev Drive? Dev Drive is a virtualized drive specially designed for development projects and can help developers increase their productivity. Built upon the Resilient File System (ReFS), Dev Drive allows you to focus on the actual development process instead of the development environment.

With it, you do not need to switch between different applications or different accounts or locate relevant directories. Dev Drive offers greater control over security, storage, and other elements, and is not designed for general user requirements like installing packaged applications.

The reason why Dev Drive is better for development projects is because it reduces the impact of antivirus protection on performance. It defers operations like security scans until various file operations are complete.

What do you need to set up a Dev Drive in Windows 11? Dev Drive was earlier only available in Windows Insider Builds but is now available for everyone. However, you need to meet certain requirements before you can set it up. These include having at least 8 GB of RAM (16GB recommended) and at least 50 GB of disk space. You should also be running Windows 11, Build #10.0.22621.2338 or later.

Setting Up the Dev Drive

Dev Drive is available on all Windows SKU versions, so as long as you are running Windows 11 and meet the basic requirements mentioned above, you can set it up. There are two ways you can create a Dev Drive. The first involves creating a virtual hard disk for the purpose, and the second involves resizing an existing partition.

Creating a Dev Drive on a Virtual Hard Disk

Creating a Dev Drive on a virtual hard disk means you do not have to resize your existing drives, which can save you from potential data loss. Here is how you can set up the drive on a virtual hard disk.

  1. Open the Settings app and click on the 'System' option on the left.
  1. Next, click on the 'Storage' option on the right.
  1. On the Storage page, click on the 'Advanced Storage Settings' option.
  1. When the Advanced Storage Settings expand, click on the 'Disks and Volumes' option.
  1. On the next page, click on the 'Create Dev Drive' button.
  1. Now you can choose whether to create the Dev Drive on a virtual disk or resize an existing drive for the purpose. Click on the 'Create New VHD' option and then on the 'Next' button.
  1. The next page lets you provide details for the Dev Drive, such as the name, location, disk size, etc. You can also choose whether the drive will have a fixed or a dynamically expanding size. Click on the 'Create' button after entering the details.
  1. Creating the Dev Drive can take some time, depending on your hardware, so wait until the process is finished.
  1. Once the Dev Drive is created, you need to choose the partition type. By default, GPT (GUID Partition Table) will be selected, which is suitable for most modern systems. Click on the 'Initialize' button.
  1. On the next page, add a label to the drive and then click on the 'Format' button.
  1. You've successfully created a Dev Drive on your Windows 11 PC. Scroll down on the Disks and Volumes page and you will see it listed there.
Note: Your Dev Drive is not meant to be used for storing developer tools like Visual Studio, but only for packages and project files. Also, you cannot convert an existing drive into a Dev Drive.

Resizing an Existing Partition

If you have enough space on an existing drive, you can resize it and then create a Dev Drive. To do that, follow the same steps as above until you reach the page where you choose whether to set up a new virtual hard disk or resize an existing partition, then proceed in the following manner.

  1. Click on the 'Resize An Existing Volume' option and click on the 'Next' button.
  1. Next, select a drive with more than 50 GB of free space before clicking on the 'Next' button.
  1. Now, resize the drive so that it has at least 50 GB of free space and click on the 'Next' button.
  1. Once Windows resizes the volume, you can set up the Dev Drive. Give it a label, assign a drive letter, and click on the 'Format' button.
  1. Now, go back to the 'Disks and Volumes' page, scroll down to the bottom, and click on any unallocated space. Click on the 'Create New Volume' button and select 'Create Dev Drive'.
  1. To complete the process, follow the same steps as in the first method.

Using the Command Line

You can use the command line to set up a Dev Drive without using Windows Settings. However, for that, you need to be a member of the Admin group since only administrators can format a drive. You can use the command line method when you need to create several Dev Drives or for multiple machines.

  1. Open the Start menu, type CMD, and click on the 'Run As Administrator' option.
  1. When the command prompt window opens, type Format D: /DevDrv /Q and press the 'Enter' key. Replace 'D' with the drive you want to format.
Note: You can also use Windows PowerShell to format a drive for creating a Dev Drive using the command Format-Volume -DriveLetter D -DevDrive.

If you are a developer, creating a Dev Drive on your Windows 11 system can be extremely beneficial. It can help keep all your development project files and resources in one place, so you don't have to navigate between different drives and folders. Additionally, it can help enhance your productivity by delivering performance gains by deferring antivirus scans in the Dev Drive.

However, if you are looking for a significant performance improvement for your development needs, upgrading to better hardware might be a better alternative.