I have an external drive (FAT) that’s been on the shelf, new in the box, for
a couple of years. I wanted to start using it but I wanted to convert to NTFS
before anything was put on it. I tried your steps but the first thing I was
asked, was to type in the volume name. What’s that?
The volume name, or “label”, is a name you can assign to each drive on your
system. The conversion (and some other utilities) will ask you for it as a way
to confirm that you’re really asking them to operate on the drive you think you
We’ll look at how to see, and set, the volume name on your drives.
Fire up Windows Explorer with the Windows Key + E (or right click on My Computer and click Explore). On my Vista laptop that gets me, in part, this:
My computer name is LEOPRIME, but the label or volume name of my C: drive is also “LEOPRIME”, which I’ve highlighted in the two places it’s displayed in Explorer. (Windows XP is similar.) You can also see that my D: drive has a volume name of “RECOVERY” (placed there by Dell), and that my E: drive is “LEOPRIME-DATA”.
These are the names you would type in for the drive corresponding to the one you are attempting to convert.
To change the volume name, just right click on it, and click on Rename.
In some cases, drives, particularly new ones, often don’t come with a volume name, and yet the utility you’re running might still require that you enter one. The solution is simple: create one (using those same rename steps), and then you’re good to go.
The “Volume Name” is also known as the “Label”. Label is in fact the utility that’s used from the Windows command line to set or change a Volume Name.
Labels are also instantly visible in the Windows Command Shell. Just fire one up (typically in Start, All Programs, Accessories), and then type in “DIR” followed by Enter to get a directory listing:
Volume in drive E is LEOPRIME-DATA
Volume Serial Number is FE04-319E Directory of E:\
There you can see that while on my E: drive, a directory listing starts by displaying the volume name of the drive.
You can also view, change or remove the volume name using the label command:
Volume in drive E: is LEOPRIME-DATA
Volume Serial Number is FE04-319E
Volume label (32 characters, ENTER for none)?
A volume name or label isn’t strictly required in most cases, but I find it helpful to keep track of what disk I’m really working on, particularly with multiple machines and multiple drives.
And as you’ve seen, some utilities use it as a way to double check you really mean what you’ve said.