Summary: This post tells you how to customize drive icons using autorun.inf, for fixed drives as well as removable disk drives. This method applies to any version of Windows, including Windows 10.
If you use multiple external drives or have multiple partitions in your hard disk each for storing different types of data, you generally label each drive for identifying them easily. Even better option would be to assign a custom icon for the drives so that they provide you with visual clues to identify the drives even more quicker than reading the drive-letter or the label.
The following is the drives setup I have. Drive C: contains Operating System and programs, D: has all my personal data and the user shell folders which I’ve redirected there. Drive E: stores multimedia files, my File History backups use F:, and drive G: contains few portable applications I use.
Customize drive icons using Autorun.inf
Adding a drive icon is done by creating a file named autorun.inf in the drive’s root directory, and mentioning a custom icon in autorun.inf. The icon reference can be a custom .ico file or resource inside a .exe or .dll file. Here is a sample autorun.inf file using a custom software.ico file I’m going to use for my "Software" drive.
Open Notepad and type the above lines and save the file in the drive’s root directory (example, x:\autorun.inf). If you have a specific folder that stores all the icons, you can mention the path there. But it’s better to drop the .ico file in the drive’s root directory, especially if it’s a removable drive.
If your removable drive already has an autorun.inf file and the [AUTORUN] section, you simply need to add or change the "Icon" reference there. Optionally, these two files can be set to "hidden" via the file Properties so as to clear visual clutter in the drive’s root directory.
Repeat the procedure for each drive for which you want to customize the icon.
Restart Windows, and drive icons should have changed! Now, see how easy it’s to identify drives.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.