Windows 11 added the ability to set up a Dev Drive that is targeted for key developer workloads, and after soliciting some experience from others, I thought I would try it out myself. The results were impressive and immediate, and something I'm rolling out to our entire team.
What Is a Dev Drive
Per the Microsoft documentation Dev Drive is a new form of storage volume available to improve performance for key developer workloads. Under the hood it is based on the new Resilient File System (ReFS) which is Microsoft's newest file system that is designed to improve performance, resiliency, and prevent efforts.
Within the DevDrive announcement, Microsoft noted developer improvements between 22-41% based on the types of operations taken and tools used.
You set up a Dev Drive as either a partition on an existing drive or as a VHD. I've opted for a dynamically sized VHD as that provides the best bang for the buck without tying up even more resources to accomplish the goal.
Once created using the instructions linked above, it is important to move your common read/write developer items over to this new drive; for me, this included.
- NuGet package Cache (I used the Environment Variable Process)
- NPM Cache
- All project Source Code
- ReSharper Caches
Depending on the types of projects that you utilize, you may want to redirect other items to the dev drive. I changed the temp directory over to the Dev Drive but the change wasn't noticeable for my workloads, so I reversed that change for compatibility with other applications.
Results were immediate, and the consistent productivity gains approximately two weeks into the utilization of Dev Drive are beyond impressive.
Build Time Improvements
Overall build times are reduced between 10 and 27% depending on the size of my projects. My larger projects and my .NET MAUI projects have a larger performance gain than other project types. However, that may not be true for all.
This was one very unexpected item. By moving my ReSharper cache, the immediate change in performance within Visual Studio was night and day. I spend less time waiting for things to load. Less time waiting for IntelliSense to update, etc.
Git & General File Operations
I work with several large projects with extensive change history and high file churn. The performance improvements with all git operations were noticeable and consistent across all projects.
Overall, if you haven't done so yet, I recommend taking the time to configure Dev Drive. It is worth the little inconvenience in the initial setup. I'd love to hear about your experiences as well!