Virtual hard drives act identical to physical hard drives once mounted. Here is how to create a virtual hard drive in Windows with built-in tools.

Most don’t know this, but Windows allows you to create virtual hard drives with the Disk Management tool. All it takes is a couple of clicks, and you will have your virtual HDD ready to use.

Table of contents:

What is a virtual hard drive?

If you don’t know, a virtual hard drive is like any other file. However, you can mount the virtual hard drive file. It appears and functions as a hard disk partition when you do that. Generally, Windows uses VHD and VHDX formats for creating virtual hard drives.

Since a virtual hard drive acts just as a physical drive, you can store any files like documents, videos, image files, and more. If needed, you can even install an OS too.

The best thing is, once you are done using the virtual hard drive, you can eject it. That way, it doesn’t appear as a partition in File Explorer.

Uses of virtual hard drive

There are several use cases where a virtual hard drive makes your life easier. These include but are not limited to:

  • Ease of storage and portability.
  • Ability to install OS and dual boot without modifying existing partitions.
  • Ability to use the virtual hard drive for storage virtualization.
  • Quick and easy replication, backup, and deployment.
  • Compatibility with virtualization platforms like Hyper-V and VirtualBox.
  • Ability to encrypt and password protect data as a single file.
  • and more.

The steps below work the same in Windows 10 and 11.

Steps to create a virtual hard drive in Windows

Using the built-in Disk Management tool, you can create a virtual hard drive in Windows. No need for third-party software. Here is how to do it.

  1. Use “Start key + R” to open Run.
  2. Type “diskmgmt.msc” in the blank field.
  3. Press the “Ok” button.
  4. Choose the “Action > Create VHD” option.
  5. Click the “Browse” button.
  6. Go to a folder/drive of your choice.
  7. Type a name of your choice in the “File name” field.
  8. Press the “Save” button.
  9. Select “GB” from the Virtual hard disk size dropdown menu.
  10. Type the amount of space you want to allot in the blank field.
  11. Press the “Ok” button.
  12. Choose “VHDX” under the “Virtual hard disk format” section.
  13. Choose the “Dynamically expanding” option under the “Virtual hard disk format” section.
  14. Press the “Ok” button.
  15. Right-click on the newly created disk.
  16. Choose the “Initialize Disk” option.
  17. Choose “GPT” and click “Ok.”
  18. Right-click on the newly created drive.
  19. Choose the “New Simple Volume” option.
  20. Press “Next.”
  21. Accept defaults and press “Next.”
  22. Set a drive letter and press “Next.”
  23. Choose “NTFS” from the “File System” dropdown.
  24. Select the “Perform a quick format” checkbox.
  25. Press the “Next” button.
  26. Click the “Finish” button.
  27. Close the Disk Management application.
  28. With that, you have created the virtual hard drive.
  29. Open File Explorer to see the newly created VHD.
  30. You can eject or unmount the drive by selecting it and clicking the “Eject” button at the top of File Explorer.

Steps with more details:

First, open the Windows Disk Management tool. For that, use the “diskmgmt.msc” Run (Win + R) command or search for “Create and format hard disk partitions” in the Start menu.

After opening the Disk Management application, choose the “Actions > Create VHD” option. This action opens the VHD creation wizard.

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First, click the “Browse” button.

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Go to a folder or drive where you would like to save the VHD file, type a name of your choice in the “File Name” field and press the “Save” button.
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Now, choose “GB” from the “Virtual hard disk size” heading, and type the amount of hard disk space you want to allot in the blank field next to it. In allowing 10GB for the virtual hard disk file.
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Choose the “VHDX” and “Dynamically expanding” options and press the “Ok” button.
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With that, the VHD file is created. We now need to initialize it to use it as a drive.
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Right-click on the newly created disk and choose the “Initialize Disk” option.

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Choose the “GPT (GUID Partition Table)” and press the “Ok” button.

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Right-click the drive again and choose the “New Simple Volume” option.
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Press the “Next” button on the Simple Volume Wizard.

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Accept the defaults in the Volume Size window and press “Next.”
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Choose the “Assign the following drive letter” option and select a drive letter from the dropdown menu. Press the “Next” button to continue.
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Choose “NTFS” from the “File System” dropdown menu, select the “Perform a quick format” checkbox and press the “Next” button. Optionally, you can also type a custom name in the “Volume Lable” field. This name will appear as the drive/partition name in File Explorer.
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Press the “Finish” button.
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That is it. Close the Disk Management application. Open the File Explorer, and you will see a new drive.

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You can find the VHD file in the location you chose earlier.

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Once you are done using the virtual hard drive, select the drive in File Explorer and press the “Eject” button.
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That is it. It is that simple to create a virtual hard drive in Windows.

I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need some help, send an email, and I will try to help as much as possible.

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