Where's the B drive?

My A: drive is the floppy disk drive, C: is the hard disk, D: and E: are CD drives. Most computers i’ve seen have those names for those drives. So what happened to the B: drive?

Back in the bad old days of DOS, A and B were both reserved for floppy drives, even if there was only one floppy on the system. That way, if you wanted to copy a large file between floppys and couldn’t access the hard drive for some reason, you could do a COPY a:\myfile.bin b: hisdir\ and DOS would prompt you on switching the disks… read from A, write to B, read more from A, write more to B, etcetera.

With windows systems the B drive is unneeded in this context and not used, but it’s still skipped over as a nod to the old convention, and because a lot of software still assumes C is the primary hard drive.

Ah, that makes sense. Ta.

It’s an artifact. The B: drive was a second floppy drive, which used to be fairly common. This was when computer CD drives were fairly new or had not been introduced yet as common peripherals (say, around 1995 or not too many years earlier).

I believe, at least back in the Win 3.1 and DOS days the A and B drives were reserved for floppy disks. Typically many computers only had one floppy disk drive so A was the only one used. But, I had a computer from that era that came with two, and the second drive was labelled the B drive.

I’ve played around with drive partitions/virtual drives/multiple hard drives/multiple CD/DVD drives and I don’t know if A, B, and C are still reserved in any way for specific devices but all the rest of the letters can pretty much be assigned to anything. I’ve had my computer set up with A as the floppy, C as one hard drive, D as another hard drive, and E as a CD drive. I’ve also had setups where letters like F, G, and H were used when I’d use multiple partitions.

Interestingly, when I connect my mp3 player up to the computer, it registers itself as the Q: drive. Seems a rather odd letter to pick, but I guess there’s some geeks around with over ten peripheral drives.

Before hard disks became common two identical drives were useful because otherwise copying data from one disk to another was very cumbersome. A bit later many computers with hard disks still included both a 3.5" and a 5.25" floppy drive.

Hmm… odd, I’ve never had that happen. Usually MP3 players and other USB stuff take the next available letter… but then reserve it so that no other USB device can take it. Thus my brother’s 80 gig external hard drive, which he often hooks up to my computer, generally registers as K or L, I can’t remember which for certain.

These young’uns today don’t even remember when PCs only had floppies, and no hard disk.

This question about the b: drive comes up every once in a while, and it’s probably the question that most makes me feel old.

Sorry, Revtim.

My first computer ever ran on Windows 3.1. Those were the days… :wink:

Yeh, WAY back in the IBM PC/ Apple II/ Commodore 64 days, you’d have two external floppy drives (272 K 5 1/2" floppies) connected to your computer by serial cables. Most commonly you’d have either the boot disk in drive A and your application in the B drive, or else the application in A and B would be used for saving and loading data files to the application. Later when hard drives were introduced there was usually just one floppy drive and B was a virtual drive sharing the same physical slot with A, used by DOS as previously described.

And at that I congratulated myself that I’d never had to use a tape cassette drive.

I stuck a combo 3.5"/5.25" drive in my computer a while ago and set the A drive to the 3.5", the B drive to the 5.25". So, when you add in the other stuff I have on, including partitions and virtual drives, I have A B C D E F G H I J K and L drives. If I was still at school on the network, I’d also have P, U, and W as network drives. And probably have a Z mapped as well.

But, yeah, it’s a holdover and I don’t see it going away any time soon.

I’ve had a few add-on drives set their default letter to Q, so it’s not unique. It could be that (for typical users, at least) Q is far enough from the other drive letters as to be instantly recognizable as what you just plugged in.

You youngster!

My first computer was a TI99/4A that I had to program in BASIC.

My first PC was an 8086 that you had to know DOS commands to operate.

Kids… (walks off shaking head…)

My first computer was a счёты! :stuck_out_tongue:

Ah, the TI was my first computer too. My first PC was a screaming 8mhz 286. “What do people need with all power?” the magazines said at the time.

The first PC computer I had with a hard drive had 10mb. I couldn’t imagine how I could use all of that space. This was DOS, of course, which Mr. Gates hadn’t gotten up to 1gb in size yet. That would come later with Windows.


I still have my TI99/4A in a box in a closet. I had given it to my Niece who gave it to my Nephew who asked if I wanted it back.
I taught my self Basic on the wonderful 16KB machine with a tape drive for data storage. It was a lot of fun for 1982.
I went to the Amiga next so my first PC was a 486DX33. I think I still have an old 386 in a closet with both 3½ & 5¼ drives. If so I actual own a PC with an A & B drive. The 5¼ was the B.
Anyone else ever use an 8" Floppy? I had to load software for a B20 AS400 by 8" Floppy. 48 Disks worth. :frowning: This was torture. Only thing worse than loading the old Office Pro 4.0 with 21 diskettes.


Yep. I worked for a company that made machines that used them.

This was 1984 or so, when manufacturers made their own machines, their own operating systems, and their own software. You wanna use somebody else’s software on our machines? Sorry, pal, won’t work. But you can use ours, which is just as good. And comes on these nifty eight-inch diskettes! :rolleyes:

Oh Oh Oh! I know the answer! Pick me! Pick me!

Uh, that makes me really old doesn’t it?

As everyone else pointed out, back when computers really needed extra storage, B: was the second floppy drive. Usually 5 1/4". I don’t think many people used 8" drives on PCs.