Sometimes, you might come across the esp windows drive under this PC section of your computer. As it has popped up suddenly, you will definitely wonder about what it is doing there, or worse, you might think of it as something useless or a threat. And to clear all your doubts, we will cover What is the ESP drive in Windows 10 and its functions in detail.
It can also be the case that you have accidentally deleted the ESP drive or you want to delete it to free up some space. And now you might be wondering whether it is important to keep it or not. And keeping that in mind, we will show you how to delete or create the ESP drive as well.
What is the ESP drive in Windows 10?
Before you get to know what the ESP drive does or what it is, let me break down its name for you. The ESP goes by the Extensible Firmware Interface System Partition name. As the name suggests, it is a partition or logical division of a hard disk.
And by extensible, it means that Windows can change or modify the ESP drive for different situations:
- It is the section of a hard disk drive of a computer. Windows creates such different sections to make it available to the computer operating system as a separate part. It helps the system to run smoothly. Let’s find out what this partition stores so that you can understand its functionality
- It contains the boot loaders files that help Windows to start the boot process, device drivers, or other utilities. These files make sure that all the essential parts of the system work together perfectly.
- The ESP drive also stores device or system drivers and they command Windows 10 on how to work with the hardware components of the computer.
- The data files and the system utilities are also in this partition. All the information related to the boot process and logs are in the data files. And the system utilities help the windows to run and start without any issue.
- If you are running the Microsoft Bitlocker to protect your computer from a data breach, all the data of the Bitlocker will be stored in the ESP drive. And it contacts or works with the Trusted Platform Module to encrypt or decrypt the data from there.
So, the ESP drive performs a lot of tasks. Especially if you have an internal hard drive only, you must keep the ESP drive. But if you have an external drive, you can remove the ESP drive if you want.
Can You Open the ESP Drive?
You can use the Windows command prompt to access the ESP drive. But as it is a tricky and lengthy method, we will show you an alternative to that. Just follow the steps below, and you are good to go –
- Download and install the Minitool Partition Wizard Tool for your Windows. Do not go for any untrusted APK site to download the tool, you can count on either APKMirror or the APKPure sites.
- Once you open the Minitool find the EFI system partition located under the Partition section.
- You need to right-click on the EFI and click on the Explore option from the drop-down menu. Then you can see all the files stored in the ESP or EFI drive.
How to Delete the ESP Drive?
If you ever create a new EFI partition and you want to install the Windows OS, you will need to delete the original ESP drive of your computer. It will help to generate the new EFI partition. To delete the original one, follow the steps given below:
- Download and install the AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro tool on your computer, then open it.
- Now insert a USB drive into your PC and click on the Make Bootable Media under the Wizards section.
- Follow the instructions from the prompts that come. Then with the created bootable device, boot your computer right away.
- Then from the Partition section, right-click on the EFI partition.
- Now, a drop-down menu with options will appear, from there, click on the Delete Partition option.
- A pop-up window will ask you if you want to delete it, from there, you need to select the Delete Partition without wiping the data option. This option will keep the files stored in the partition. Or you can select the wipe data option as well if you do not need the stored data there.
- Then you need to confirm the action by clicking the OK button from the pop-up.
- The tool has not yet changed anything in your computer hard drive. So, to save the unsaved changes you need to click on the Apply option from the upper-left corner of the screen.
Now the EFI partition has unallocated space, and you can use this space to add it to an already existing Partition. For that, use the Merge Partitions option from the Wizards section.
How to Restore or Create the ESP Drive on Windows 10?
The ESP drive is essential to boot your computer properly. But if you have deleted it by mistake, then do not worry. Because you can create another ESP drive to boot and run your computer without any issue.
As this process requires running some commands, follow the steps below with utmost patience and care –
- With a recovery disk or Windows installation disk boot the computer. Then from your keyboard press the Shift+F10 to bring the command utility prompt
- Then in the command prompt, enter all the following commands and press enter after including all these commands
select disk X (here X should be the disk number that requires an EFI restoration or partition)
select partition N (N is the symbol for the partition number that requires shrinking)
shrink desired=500 (this command will shrink the ESP drive or partition by 500 MB)
create partition EFI size=200
format quick fs=fat32 label=“system”
create partition msr size = 128
These commands will create two partitions then you need to run the following commands
bcdboot c:\Windows /s b: /f ALL (However, if your system is an EFI-only system, you do need to stop writing the command after the Windows text.)
The last two commands will create the required files for the ESP drive so that your computer can boot. Now reboot your PC, and it shall boot perfectly as the ESP drives and all the boot loaders are available.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):
1. Why Can You See the ESP Drive on Your Computer?
The ESP drive should stay hidden on your computer. If you can see that it means that there is a technical glitch on your computer. Most probably you have upgraded your operating system or upgraded to Windows 8.1.
Some users have reported that their ESP drive has popped up in the This PC section after the upgrade. You can run a virus tool or reinstall the OS. It shall hide the ESP drive again.
2. Why Does the ESP Drive Appear as Z Drive on Windows?
Usually, the ESP Drive does not assign any drive letter to it to keep the drive hidden from your “This PC” section. But if it shows a drive letter next to it and the drive shows up, that means that there is a glitch or technical error in the computer. Because of some misbehaving code or incomplete upgrade, the ESP drive can have letters to it. Sometimes it can be Z or F letters.
3. Are the Z and ESP Drive the Same?
No, the ESP drive and the Z drives are not the same drives at all. The Z drive is a network folder that keeps all the temporary files in it. You can use the drive to keep a backup of your important files there. Also, you can use it when you are running low on your C drive.
But the ESP drive is an essential folder that stores all the important files to give a proper boot up to your computer.
4. Can You Remove any Assigned Letter from the ESP Drive?
Yes, you can remove the assigned letter from the ESP drive. You can run the following diskpart, list volume, select volume #, remove letter=Z, list volume commands on the command prompt to remove the assigned letter so that the drive will not appear under the My PC section.
You should replace the hashtag symbol with the volume number assigned next to the Z drive.
5. Why does Windows Keep the ESP Drive Hidden?
As ESP drive is important for your PC, Windows keeps it hidden so that the users do not get to explore or carry out any wrong steps with it. Otherwise, the OS will not boot and run properly.
You may also be interested to know:
What is the ESP drive in Windows 10? We cannot stress enough that the esp windows drive is a must to have, especially if you are running your PC only on the internal hard drive. So, you should not think of deleting the drive until or unless you have an external hard drive.
Even before you delete the drive, make sure you have a backup of your system. Otherwise, you cannot restore the data if the process fails.