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How to Assign a Static Drive Letter to a USB Drive in Windows 7

00_usb_drive_in_explorer

Do you have an external USB hard drive or flash drive that you use frequently for backups or for use with applications? Every time you plug it in you may get a different drive letter for that drive.

There is a way to assign a static drive letter to an external USB drive so you always get the same drive letter for that drive.

To begin, select Control Panel from the Start menu.

01_opening_control_panel

If you have selected the Category view on the Control Panel, click the System and Security link.

02_clicking_on_system_and_security

On the System and Security window, click the Administrative Tools link at the bottom.

03_clicking_admin_tools_on_system_and_security

If you have selected the Small icons (or Large icons) view on the Control Panel, all the available items display. Click the Administrative Tools item.

04_clicking_admin_tools_small_icons

A separate window displays containing shortcuts to the various Administrative tools available. Double-click the Computer Management shortcut.

05_double_clicking_computer_management

The Computer Management dialog box displays. In the tree on the left, select Disk Management under Storage.

06_clicking_disk_management

All your drives are listed in the top pane of the middle section of the dialog box, including removable media. To change the drive letter for a USB external or flash drive, right-click on the drive in the list and select Change Drive Letter and Paths from the popup menu.

07_selecting_change_drive_letter

The Change Drive Letter and Paths dialog box displays for the selected drive showing the current drive letter. To change the drive letter, click Change.

08_clicking_change

On the Change Drive Letter or Path dialog box, select the Assign the following drive letter option. It may be the only option available. Select the desired drive letter from the

NOTE: It is best to select a letter between M and Z (inclusive). If you pick a letter like E, F, or G, the drive letter may still change frequently because these letters may be used for other drives, like CDROM drives, that are not always connected.

09_selecting_a_drive_letter

The following warning displays. If you have some programs that rely on an absolute path to your USB external or flash drive, be sure to change the drive letter on the path to the drive in the program to the letter you selected.

10_warning_dialog

The new drive letter displays next to the drive on the Computer Manager dialog box.

11_drive_letter_changed

Select Exit from the File menu to close the Computer Management dialog box.

12_closing_computer_management

Close both the Administrative Tools window and the Control Panel window by clicking the X button in the upper, right corner of the window.

13_closing_administrative_tools_window

Now, absolute file paths used by programs, such as backup programs, won’t have to be changed every time you plug in your USB drive.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 10/28/11

Comments (25)

  1. Liam Johnson

    Would I be correct in saying this only works for the computer it’s performed on?

  2. Chronno S. Trigger

    @Liam
    Yes, this will only work on the PC you set it up on. I was hoping it was a trick that used the autorun.ini file so it could cross PCs. This also won’t work properly if you set the same letter to two drives on the same PC. Even if you never plug both of them in at the same time, one will go back to taking the next available letter.

  3. Michael Badin

    There are easier ways to get into computer management. You can either open the run box and type “compmgmt.msc” or right-click on any “my Computer” or “Computer” icon and click manage. Other than that, very helpful guide =)

  4. Art

    This is especially helpful for those in a network environment. Sometimes, the computer assigns a drive letter to the USB drive that is already assigned to a network drive. When that happens, the USB drive won’t even appear in My Computer. I have had people tell me that their USB drive was defective when this happens. Using the information above, you can change the drive letter to one that is not used by the network.

  5. Ged

    You could have just said at the start to right click My Computer and select Manage, save you a few seconds.

  6. Henk

    You can use the freeware USBDLM software to assign static driveletters for all your drives and hardware, once and for all, even across multiple computers. It can also prevent empty SD slots or USB hubs from appearing as drive letters, and do more useful things. Just Google it, download it, and follow the instructions to set up your own driveletters INI file. Works great!

  7. Steve Goodhall

    This function is also available at least back to Windows XP. I will look at W2K this weekend. That’s as far back as I go.

  8. StevenTorrey

    The computer automatically assigns D to the DVD drive, E to a USB, and F if I connect another USB. I think I’m up to the task intellectually.

  9. Delevision

    Could I potentially set A or B drive as a static drive?

  10. Seasider

    Steven, your computer may automatically assign D to the DVD drive, E to a USB, and F if I connect another USB. More common is E for DVD/CD drive, F is generally the USB and D might be data or the recovery partition unless the user has changed them.

  11. leonard

    Seems like a lot of trouble. All you have to do in “7″ is, open my computer. right click onl the drive,
    select rename and then rename the drive you want..

  12. TechnoGeek

    @leonard: Renaming a drive doesn’t change the drive letter, just the volume label used in the My computer screen.

  13. Brian

    Is there a way to assign more the available letters from A to Z?

    I have more Jump drives that letters!

    I would think these is a trick to say assign something like: N1, or NN or ÿ.

    There had to be many users who have many jump drives so I hope someone knows how.

    Thanks, Brian

  14. RickM

    Thanks for the tip. I know how to change drive letters. What I didn’t know/realize was that it would keep the drive letter for the USB device. Good info.
    For the negative people, Give people a hard time for explaining how to do something. A good instructor shows you the right way and then when you are capable he/she may show you the shortcuts. One of the biggest mistakes I saw in my 20 years as an instructor/teacher was showing someone the easy/shortcut way first. If they learn the correct way first, then the shorcut/easy way they are much more likely to remember both ways. Not everbody has “My Computer” on their desktop. It’s not displayed by default in Win XP or Win 7. Win 2K goes back too far for my memory. Therefore, many people reading this excellent article would find it useless. Take it easy on the authors. If you belittle them too much they just might stop bringing you the good information.

  15. grappler

    I think the title is a bit deceptive. You can do this on all windows versions. Plus you cash do out on all drives. What I have done to give me a few more letterd have changed my DVD drives to A and B respectably.

  16. Bart

    @badin
    I was thinking the same thing! LOL

  17. Bron

    *yawn*

  18. toolman59

    Brian

    Yes you can add more drive letters in NTFS disks by assigning a drive letter other than A-Z to an empty folder.
    Create an empty folder, name it, then follow this sequence:
    Control Panel>All control panel items> administrative tools>computer management
    Right click Disk Management, click All Tasks, click Change Driver Letter and Paths, click Add, select Mount in the following empty NTFS folder, browse to the empty folder created at the start and click OK.
    This allows for folders to act as additional drives getting over the A to Z limit. I have not used this myself and am not aware of any problems with this method of creating additional drives.

  19. ken

    If you format the usb drive use the option assign name and drive letter then no matter what computer you plug the flash drive into it will have the same drive letter

  20. Joe

    ken,

    if the computer you plug the USB drive into is already using that letter, your usb isnt going to ‘bump it’
    and take its assigned drive letter…

  21. fluxetreflux

    Faster way : in the run box type “diskmgmt.msc” (without quote).

    Btw thanks for the tips…

  22. Mike J Farley

    Tryed to change external drive,connected toexternal e sata port keeps saying parameters incorrect?? Drive only starts (sometimes when is on and start up comp.) Have to reboot sometimes and well start 2nd start up.

  23. bartman2589

    @Henk, While USBDLM is free and does go a long way towards assigning static/recurring drive letters to USB drives it is also very difficult to configure properly if you’re a non-techie (I’ve used USBDLM in the past with one of my SD card readers and had difficulty configuring it to assign the same drive letter consistently (a problem with the way the card reader itself handled the SD cards as it turned out)) and I’ve been upgrading/repairing computers (as a hobby mostly) since DOS 2.21 was released. The method outlined here is probably the best for the average ‘non-geek’ computer user in my opinion as it precludes having to get ‘down and dirty’ with the command prompt and having to edit configuration files by hand to get it working. I will admit I did really like the ‘Drive Mounted’ notifications that USBDLM provided to notify me that a drive was ready for use though. Too bad the closest we get natively in Windows is the annoyingly overcomplicated Autoplay dialog. Now if only Microshaft would adopt something similar to the notification icon in KDE 4, where drives show up in a list and clicking on them let’s you choose an action to perform on them at any time not just when the drive is plugged in initially, but alas they never do listen to what their users really want anyway so I doubt they’ll ever do something as intelligent as that.

  24. bartman2589

    @Brian, I’m not sure if modern Microsoft operating systems support it but MS-DOS used to support double letter drive letter names like “ZZ:” or “PP:”, I know this because a friend of mine used to host a BBS in the days before the internet and he had multiple SCSI CD changers attached to his system each hosting 7 CD’s in them along with having multiple hard drives in his system.

  25. bartman2589

    @Brian, sorry, I just checked in the drive letter management dialog and it doesn’t allow you to manually type in drive letters, only a drop down list, so unfortunately the double letter support doesn’t appear to be available in operating systems like Windows 7 (which I’m using).

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