How To Change The Drive Letter In Windows Vista for An External USB Stick or Hard Drive

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Have you ever had a situation when you plugged in your USB drive and it didn’t come up in the My Computer area along with other drives. One of the reasons behind this problem might be the drive letter.

Flash drive not visible in Windows

Actually, Windows assigns letters to the drive when you plug it into the computer. It may be possible that Windows was trying to assign the letter which is already assigned to some other device, and hence it caused the new drive to not show up.

The best solution to this problem is to change the drive letter manually. Before assigning the drive letter you need to know this – you cannot change the drive letter of system volume or boot volume. So, if Windows is installed under C drive then you cannot change the C drive letter to some other letter.

Also, as many MS-DOS-based and Microsoft Windows based programs depend upon drive letters so changing the drive letter may lead to non-functionality of certain programs. So be a little cautious here.

Here is the step by step process of changing the drive letter of external USB drive (process is same for changing drive letter of any volume or partition).

1. Click on “Start” button. Type computer in the search box. Click on “Computer Management” which comes as result of your search.

computer management

2. Computer Management window will open .On the left pane, click on “Disk Management”. It will show you all the drives of your computer including external drives (connected to computer). In my case it is showing Kingston USB drive and a letter (G) is assigned to it.

disc management

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3. You can change drive letter of any partition or USB stick by right clicking on it and selecting “Change Drive Letter and Paths” from the context menu.

change drive letter

4. Click on “Change” button.

change usb drive letter

5. Now click on drop down as shown in the figure given below. You can assign any of the given letters. Note that letter “C, D, E” are missing in the drop down menu. This is because these letters are already assigned to other partitions and drives.

drive letter 1

6. Now when you assign any other letter to the drive, a message will pop up showing some program that rely on drive letters might not run correctly. Click “Yes” to continue.

programs drive letter

That’s it. We are done.

You could also use the disk management console to perform some important activities such as creating extra partitions, formatting disk etc.

Have you ever changed the drive letter to solve your USB drive problems? Share your experiences in the comments.

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  • tom

    This worked fine for my external hard drives. Thanx a bunch!!!!

    However, I have another glitch. I have a Dell with internal photo card readers (e.g. CF cards), 4 each , that have also been assigned drive letters right in the midle of what I would like to use, J, K, L, and M. I cannot find a way to change these drive letters so that I can use these lettrs for my external hard drives.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanx in advance, Tom Sullivan

  • http://www.operationspringboard.on.ca/ Wayne Wesley

    I have two external hard drives that are used for back ups for work on the computer. I’m running Windows 7 (new computer system). They were running fine before I moved offices. They are both connected to the same usb ports. When I go to schedule a task for backing up or to do it manually the little black box comes up with a message reading “not ready waiting” . I opened my computer and see the drives there (Drive F: and Drive G:) Just not accepting for backup. There is still plenty of space on both drives. Any suggestions/answers would be greatly appreciated. I can also be contacted by phone at (705) 759-0914 Ext: 229 Thanks a bunch!

    Wayne Wesley