Sometimes when you plug a USB drive into your machine you won’t see it in Computer or AutoPlay in Windows. Today we take a look at how to change the drive letter so you can can access it.
Note: this should work the same in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Vista.
The problem with not being able to see your USB drive happens quite often in XP. Our readers have pointed out, and we’re seen instances, where the same problem can occur in Windows 7 and Vista as well. If you’re still running XP and having this problem, make sure to check out our article on how to find your missing USB drive in Windows XP.
Locate and Access the USB Drive in Windows 7, 8, 10, or Vista
The problem is when you plug in a thumb drive or external USB hard drive…nothing happens. You hear the USB sound but AutoPlay doesn’t run, and when you look in Computer you don’t see the drive. More than likely Windows named the drive to a letter that is already in use.
To fix the problem we’ll need to open Disk Management. You can do that easily by searching the Start Menu or Start Screen for “disk management”.
This will open Disk Management — the screenshot below shows the Computer Management window, but you can see Disk Management on the right-hand side.
You should be able to determine which one is the drive you’re trying to access by its size and format type. Here we’re trying to find a 4GB thumb drive. Right-click on the drive and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
Now click on the Change button…
You can select from a list of drive letters to rename it. Make sure it’s not one already in use or could be in use at some point. Pick a letter toward the end of the alphabet for best results.
You will be prompted with a warning dialog making sure you want to change the drive letter…click Yes.
Here you can see we changed the drive from the letter “J” to “U”…
If you have AutoPlay enabled, you’ll see the familiar screen asking what you want to do with the drive.
You will also see it in Computer now and be able to access the files and programs from it.
That’s all there is to it! It’s definitely annoying when you plug in an external USB drive and Windows doesn’t give you access to it right away, but following these steps solves the issue.
Again, this problem happens a lot more in XP and the process of fixing it is essentially the same.