A task that you will most likely have to do multiple times in Windows is to change the drive letter for your external hard drive, mapped network drive, or DVD drive. Sometimes, when you plug in a USB drive, it won’t automatically be assigned a drive letter and may not appear on your computer.
In such cases, you need to change the drive letter for the device and it usually appears right away. In this article, I will show you how to change the drive letter for these devices using the GUI and command line.
Change the drive letter via Disk Management
You can open Disk Management on a Windows PC by right-clicking the Computer or This PC icon on the desktop and choosing Manage, or by clicking Start and typing diskmgmt.msc.
You will see a list of volumes at the top and disks and partitions at the bottom. Any partition that has a drive letter will be shown in the white area. If you plugged in a USB drive and see it listed but it doesn’t have a drive letter, you can now assign it.
To assign or change a drive letter for a drive or partition, simply right-click it and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
A window will appear with the current drive letter, if any, and a couple of options. Here you want to click “Change”.
Then you will select a new drive letter from the dropdown list. You can choose letters from A to Z.
That’s all. Click OK to close all dialog boxes and the drive should now appear in Windows with a new drive letter. If you are having trouble using the GUI or are more comfortable using the command line, read the instructions below for using diskpart.
Use DiskPart to assign the drive letter
If you need to change or assign a drive letter via the command line, you must use the diskpart command. I wrote a little bit about how to use diskpart, which is really useful for many disk management tasks.
To get started, open an Administrator Command Prompt in Windows by clicking Start, typing CMD and then right-clicking and choosing Run as Administrator.
Now enter the following commands, each followed by an Enter key.
diskpart list volume select volume x assign letter = x
Above, you will replace x with the volume number in the list that corresponds to the drive you want to change and the letter you want to assign to the drive. Here are the commands I ran for the external USB drive:
You will also notice that in the Type column, the external drives appear as Removable. This is a good way to check before choosing a volume. You can also determine which drive is correct by looking at the size and also by looking at the Info column. Volume 0 in my case is the system partition, so I wouldn’t want to accidentally mess with it.
Overall, this is a fairly straightforward process, and hopefully you won’t have any problems. However, there are times when something doesn’t work as expected. Below are some possible reasons.
Troubleshooting The drive letter cannot be changed in Windows
One problem I noticed is that the Change Drive Letter option is simply grayed out. This can happen for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that the volume is not formatted in FAT or NTFS format. For example, if you connect a drive from a Mac computer, you cannot change the drive letter until you format the drive to a compatible format.
Another reason is the drive is read-only. In such a case, you will need to google the instructions for replacing the drive to allow read / write access.
Also, if you don’t need any data about the volume in question, an easy solution is to delete the volume, which is usually never greyed out. After deleting the volume, you can right-click again and create a new simple volume. Now you can change the drive letter.
Be sure to read my other tips on how to hide a drive in Windows and how to map a folder to a drive letter in Windows. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment. Enjoy!