Sometimes when you plug a USB drive into your machine you won’t see it in Computer or AutoPlay in Windows 7 or Vista. Today we take a look at how to change the drive letter so you can can access it.
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 & 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 right-click on Computer from the Start Menu or Desktop Icon, and select Manage.
In the Computer Management window, under Storage, click on Disk Management to see a list of drives connected to your machine.
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.
Programmer by day, geek by night, The Geek, also known as Lowell Heddings, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 07/16/10