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Change Drive Letter in Windows for an External USB Device

This guide is about how to change the drive letter in Windows for an external USB device such as a hard drive or USB drive. Here’s a typical problem I’ve seen: you plug in a USB drive to your computer and it says it’s ready to use, but for some reason nothing appears in the list of drives. Take it out, plug it back in and still nothing appears! What is the problem? Well, it could be several things, but the most common problem is that the drive letter that Windows is trying to assign to your device is already occupied by another device or mapped to a network drive.

Unfortunately Windows doesn’t always figure this out on its own (which it should) and your disk is mostly lost in the computer country. To fix this, we need to go to Computer Management and manually assign a drive letter. There are two ways to open the Computer Management dialog box in Windows, one is through Control Panel, and the other is by right-clicking Computer and choosing Manage.

Right-click My Computer

Computer Management in Administrative Tools
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Click on “Disk Management” under the “Storage” section, and on the right side of the screen, all current disks and partitions on your drive will be displayed. If you don’t understand what that means, don’t worry, just find the drive you’re looking for in the charts below. These are usually named Disk 0, Disk 1, CD-ROM, CD-ROM1, etc. If you are looking for a USB flash drive, you will see the word “Removable” under drive X. In my case, it is I: removable disk. However, if you have a large USB hard drive connected, it may appear as an additional hard drive like mine shown below (H :).

By default, Windows assigned my USB portable storage drive letter H. If your drive does not have a letter or you want to change it, right-click in the white space to the right of the drive letter and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Click the Change button in the dialog box, and then select a new letter from the drop-down list. Just for your information, the Mount in the following NTFS folder option is used if you right clicked on an external hard drive and instead of giving it a drive letter, you just wanted it to appear as a folder on your current hard drive. This means that you can create a folder in My Documents called images that actually points to a different hard drive instead of where all of your My Documents are currently stored.

Click OK twice and your drive should be assigned a new drive letter. Usually, if the USB drive was not shown before, after changing the letter, it will automatically pop up and ask what you want to do. That’s all! You can also use Disk Management to format disks, determine the file system type, and view the amount of free space available.

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