If your PC suddenly stops showing one of your internal drives in the file explorer or not list your external drive, it could be due to the OS getting confused with the drive letters. Simply changing your assigned drive letters can help you bypass this conflict. Here are six ways to change the drive letter.
Is It Safe to Change a Drive Letter in Windows?
Changing the drive letter is not entirely harmless and can cause significant problems based on the contents of your drive. If you have applications and software installed on your drive, those applications may cease to work.
For example, if you change the name of your D: drive to an F: drive, then the software installed in the D drive will still search for code in the D: file. While you can still access the data inside, there may be errors that will cause a nuisance in your day-to-day usage.
However, you may safely change the letter of some drives. If a partition simply includes data files that you rarely use, changing the drive letter may cause minor inconvenience, but nothing serious. The letters of external drives can almost always be changed without any problems.
1. Change the Drive Letter Using Settings
- Press Win + I to open the Settings app, then select the “System” tab. Scroll down and click on “Storage.”
- Scroll down on the right side and click on “Advanced storage settings.”
- Under Advanced storage settings, click on “Disks & Volumes.”
- Select the drive whose letter you want to change, then click on the “Properties” button for that drive.
- In the Drive Properties, you will find the option to change the drive letter of the selected drive.
- Once you click on the option to change the drive letter, you will find a drop-down menu that will allow you to change the drive letter.
- Click on the letter you want to assign.
- Once you have selected your preferred letter, click on “OK” to confirm your choice.
2. Using Command Prompt
- Search for the command prompt on the start menu by typing
cmd, right-click on it, and select “Run as administrator”.
- On the command prompt home screen, type:
- Press Enter, then type:
- Press Enter. You’ll see a list of your system’s drives. Make a note of the volume number of the drive. In the example pictured, it’s “Volume 3”.
- Type the following code:
select volume <volume number>
- Type the following code to assign the new letter:
assign letter="new drive letter"
Instead of “new drive letter,” type the letter you want. For example:
The drive letter will be changed to your preferred letter.
3. Disk Management
- Right-click on the Windows button and open “Disk Management.”
- Under the “Volume” column, you will find the various partitions of your storage. You need to find the drive whose letter you’ll change and right-click on it.
- In the dialog box that appears, click on “Change.”
- Click the drop-down menu next to “Assign the following drive letter,” then select your letter and press “OK.”
- A warning message will pop up. Click “Yes” if you are sure about your decision to change the drive letter.
4. Registry Editor
- To change the drive letter through registry editor, first press Win + R to open the Run dialog and type
- Type in the following address at the top of the application:
and press Enter.
- Navigate to the list of binary keys. Select the key that corresponds to the drive letter that you want to change. For example, if we want to change the letter of the D: drive, we would look for “\DosDevices\D:”
- Right-click on the selected registry and rename the drive letter to what you want, just as you would rename any other file.You will have to restart your computer for the effects to take place.
5. Windows PowerShell
- Using the search button on the taskbar, search for “Powershell” and run it as administrator.
- Type the following command:
- A screen will show you your disk partitions. Make a note of what drive letter you want to change.
- To change the drive letter, type the following command:
Get-Partition -DriveLetter 'current drive letter' | Set-Partition -NewDriveLetter' new drive letter'
Make sure to substitute “current drive letter’ and “new drive letter” with the actual drive letters, then press Enter.
6. Drive Letter Changer Software
If you are looking for a tool that can help you manage your partition and drives, these software will help you change your drive letter.
These tools are easy to use and have GUI interfaces that make them simple to use and also a one-stop destination for you to manage your storage devices. For the purposes of the demonstration, we are using MiniTool Partition Wizard to change the drive letter.
- Download MiniTool Partition Wizard. (It is a direct download link.)
- Run the installer and launch the app. You will get a listing of all your drive partitions mentioned below.
- Right-click on the target drive partition and select “Change Letter.”
- Open the drop-down list and select a new drive letter for your target drive.
- Click on “Apply” to save the changes.
- You will receive a warning pop-up asking you to close all background applications. Click “Yes.”
- You will now receive a confirmation message telling you that the new changes have been applied.Click “OK.”
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How are drive letters assigned in Windows?
Drive letters are assigned to every new drive in alphabetical order. Traditionally, the A: and B: drives were used for floppy disks, and the system drive on which Windows is installed is named C: by default.
2. Can I change the drive letter for the System Drive?
No, changing the drive letter on the system drive is not possible, as Windows is installed on the system drive. If that was changed, the system drive would not be found and the computer would cease working.
3. Can I switch drive letters among two drives?
No, there is no functionality in Windows to switch drive letters directly between two drives. If you want to switch the drive letters between the D: drive and the E: drive, you will have first change the D: drive to another letter (so as to free up the D:), change the E: to D:, then change the first one to E:.
Image credit: Plastic magnetic letters by 123RF
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