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Changing Drive Letters In Windows

By January 24, 2010 January 3rd, 2011 Tips & Tricks

At home, I use multiple external hard drives; however, I don’t always leave them on. I usually have just one of them running at a time. Today, when my turned on my main external hard drive, it was assigned the drive letter I by Windows, whereas it usually used F. This caused some problems – some of my shortcuts expect it to be the F drive.

When I look at my drives in Windows, here is what I see:

A view of my connected drives, as seen through "My Computer".

My drives. Notice how "F" is actually free?

Looking at the drives, I don’t quite understand why Windows thought I would be a good idea. I’m guessing it remembers another drive that had F, and wants to reserve it. Why it didn’t do that before, is beyond me.

To correct the shortcuts, I had to change the drive letter of the drive – which would make the paths valid again. I only had to do this once before, so I thought I’d offer the steps here, in case someone else would find it useful. The change is made using the Disk Management tool that comes with Windows.

In Windows 7, either:

  • Search for “Disk Management” in the Start menu, and select the “Create and format hard disk partitions” option.

or

  • In a “Run Command” window, enter “diskmgmt.msc”.

You’ll be presented with the Disk Management screen:

The main interface of the Disk Management dialog, which is part of Windows

Once there, simply right-click the disk you wish to change, and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths”.

You’ll be presented with the following dialog:

The "Change Drive Letter and Paths" dialog allows to modify the drive letter associated with any given drive.

Select the drive letter, and press “Change”.

When the dialog opens, select the letter you want to use. In my case, I changed the “Assign the following drive letter:” field value from I to F.

The "Change Drive Letter or Path" dialog

After that, press OK.  You’re get a warning saying:

Some programs that rely on drive letters might not run correctly. Do you want to continue?
Just press “Yes”, and you’re all done.