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How to Change a Drive Letter on Windows 10 or Windows 11
Nick Lewis is a staff writer for How-To Geek. He has been using computers for 20 years --- tinkering with everything from the UI to the Windows registry to device firmware. Before How-To Geek, he used Python and C++ as a freelance programmer. In college, Nick made extensive use of Fortran while pursuing a physics degree. Read more...
Changing the letter of a drive is easy on Windows 10 and Windows 11, but you should do it as soon as you add the drive to prevent future hassles. Find out how to change a drive letter here.
What Changing a Drive Letter Does How to Change a Drive Letter How to Fix Programs Broken By Changing a Drive Letter Fix The Shortcut Reinstall the Program Change the Drive Letter Back Edit the Registry
What Changing a Drive Letter Does
Windows assigns drive letters alphabetically — starting with C — when they’re initialized. If you want to change a drive letter, you should do it before you install anything on the drive. Changing a drive letter after programs are installed could break them since there will be references to an installation location that is no longer there.
Windows has gotten pretty smart about updating shortcuts so that programs work after changing a drive letter. Most of your applications’ shortcuts will probably be automatically corrected. Unfortunately, Windows isn’t as good about updating file associations. You’ll have to manually set the default apps associated with files to fix file associations if they were broken by changing the drive letter.
Warning: It is possible to change the boot drive letter to something else, but we don’t recommend it. Changing C:\ to another letter is likely to result in severe issues, like a PC that cannot boot into Windows at all. Even if it were able to boot, there would be a huge number of programs that would not be able to run.
Note: Technically speaking, while they are commonly called drive letters, each letter actually refers to a partition on a disk. If you have multiple partitions on a single disk, you will need to assign a letter to each partition to make them all accessible. If a disk has just a single partition, it will just have a single letter pointing to that partition. (However, you do not have to assign a letter to each partition. Partitions without drive letters will not appear in File Explorer and elsewhere.)
How to Change a Drive Letter
Changing a drive letter is pretty simple. Click the Start button, type “Disk Management” in the search bar, and then hit Enter.
Note: The program name displayed in the search will not be Disk Management. It will be “Create and format hard disk partitions.”
You could also hit Windows+X or right-click the Start button, and then click “Disk Management.”
Identify the drive you’d like to change in the Disk Management Window. In this example, we’ll change the letter of the D:\ drive to J:\. You can right-click the drive on the text list, or on the menu below. Either works.
Select “Change Drive Letter and Paths” in the right-click menu that appears.
In the window that pops up, click “Change.”
Select whatever letter you want from the drop-down menu. Then click “Ok.”
Two popups will warn you about changing your drive letter. Click “Yes” on both of them, and then restart your computer.
Once Windows has restarted, the drive letter should be changed.
How to Fix Programs Broken By Changing a Drive Letter
There are a few ways you can fix a program broken by changing the drive letter.
Fix The Shortcut
If you’re lucky, the only thing that is broken is the shortcut. Fix a shortcut by right-clicking the shortcut on your desktop, and then click Properties.
You need to change the target of the shortcut to the new drive letter.
For example, if GIMP was previously installed at “ D :\GIMP 2\bin\gimp-2.10.exe,” and you changed the D drive to J, change the target of the shortcut to “ J :\GIMP 2\bin\gimp-2.10.exe.”
Finalize the change by clicking “Apply” and then “Ok.”
Reinstall the Program
Reinstalling the program will generate new entries in the registry, so everything on the computer will know where to look for the program. Some installers won’t like reinstalling directly over existing files, so you may need to rename or delete the old installation first.
Change the Drive Letter Back
If you changed the drive letter of a drive with a lot of programs installed, it might be easier to change the drive letter back. Changing the drive letter back should automatically fix any programs and file associations that were broken.
Edit the Registry
Warning: You can break programs, or even Windows itself, by editing the registry. Be careful, and learn about how to edit the registry before you try it. Make sure you backup the Windows registry first. You should not attempt this method unless you have no other options.
Windows, and a lot of programs, track where programs are installed via the Windows registry. It is possible to manually adjust the registry to fix broken programs. Keep in mind that there could be dozens of registry entries you need to edit. A program like GIMP can have registry entries for the context menu, for the “Open With” menu, for any file associations, and for the location of its executables. Other programs may only have a few entries related to where it is installed.
If you’re not deterred, here’s how you do it.
First, you need to know where the program was previously installed. In this case, the program was installed to the “D:\GIMP 2” folder, and the executables were found the “D:\GIMP 2\bin” sub-folder. It is now located at “J:\GIMP 2” instead.
We need to update the registry to reflect the change in location. Click the Start button, type “regedit” into the search bar, right-click Regedit, and click “Run as administrator.”
In Regedit, hit Ctrl+F to bring up a search window. Type in the old location for the program you’re trying to fix — “D:\GIMP 2” for our example — then click “Find Next.”
Once Regedit has found something with “D:\GIMP 2” as part of a path, it’ll show it to you. Here is an example from the GIMP search.
To actually change them, double click the name of the registry entry you want to modify. Then change the drive letter to J, or whatever you chose. If you didn’t otherwise move the folder, leave the rest of the path alone. Then click “Ok.”
You’ll need to repeat this multiple times. To find the next result using your search term, you can hit the F3 key. There will be a popup once you’ve found all of the entries.
Changing drive letters can be a simple way to customize your PC. Do it before you install anything on the drive, however. You’ll prevent any problems before they occur, and probably save yourself quite a bit of troubleshooting.
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How to assign permanent letters to drives on Windows 10
You can assign drive letters manually, and in this guide, we show you how on Windows 10.
On Windows 10, when connecting a removable storage device or an internal hard drive, the system detects and assigns a drive letter automatically to make it usable. However, when reconnecting an external drive (such as a USB flash drive or SD or microSD cards), the system can end up assigning a different letter, which can be annoying.
If you want to see the same drive letter on a particular device, you can manually assign a permanent letter to any drive connected to your computer, and on Windows 10 , you can do this in at least three different ways, using Disk Management, Command Prompt, or PowerShell.
Using this approach will prevent Windows 10 from assigning a new letter or trying to set a letter already in use, which can cause conflicts. Also, it helps to select a drive letter that makes more sense to you.
In this Windows 10 guide, we walk you through several methods to manually assign a permanent letter to a drive, as long as you're connecting the drive to the same device and the letter isn't already in use.
How to assign a drive letter using Disk Management
How to assign a drive letter using command prompt, how to assign a drive letter using powershell.
To manage drive letters with the Disk Management tool, use these steps:
- Open Start .
- Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management experience.
- Right-click the drive and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths option.
- Click the Change button.
- Select the Assign the following drive letter option.
- Use the drop-down menu to assign a new drive letter. Quick tip: To avoid the system trying to assign the same letter to another drive, it's a good idea to start adding letters in backward order. For instance, instead of using D, E or F, it better to start with Z, Y or X when assigning a new letter.
- Click the OK button.
- Click the OK button again.
Once you complete these steps, the drive will permanently retain the assigned letter, even after reconnecting it. However, if you connect the drive to another device, it may receive a different letter.
While the easiest way to assign a new drive letter is to use Disk Management, you can also use DiskPart in Command Prompt to perform the same task.
To assign a drive letter using Command Prompt, use these steps:
- Search for Command Prompt , right-click the result, and then select the Run as administrator option.
- Type the following command to start DiskPart and press Enter : diskpart
- Type the following command to list all the available volumes and press Enter : list volume
- Type the following command to select the volume (drive) to assign a new letter and press Enter: select volume 3 In the command, make sure to change "3" to the number that represents the drive on your device.
- Type the following command to assign a new drive letter, and press Enter : assign letter=Z The command assigns the letter "Z" to the drive assuming it's available. However, you need to make sure to change the letter for the one that you want to use.
After completing these steps, similar to Disk Management, every time you reconnect the storage to the same device, Windows 10 should assign the same letter automatically.
Alternatively, you can also use PowerShell to change a drive letter on Windows 10 using these steps:
- Search for PowerShell , right-click the result, and then select the Run as administrator option.
- Type the following command to list the available drives and press Enter : Get-Disk
- Type the following command to assign a permanent letter to the drive and press Enter : Get-Partition -DiskNumber 1 | Set-Partition -NewDriveLetter Z In the command, make sure to change "1" to the number that represents the drive that you want to modify, and change "Z" for the new letter that you want to use.
Once you complete the steps, the drive will be accessible through File Explorer using the letter that you assigned, and Windows 10 won't try to change it.
Updated March 7, 2019: We revised this guide to make sure it's current with the latest version of Windows 10.
More Windows 10 resources
For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:
- Windows 10 on Windows Central – All you need to know
- Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks
- Windows 10 forums on Windows Central
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Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.
- Scenario: I have four 16GB USB flash drives that I use for various OS installs. I typically work on one at a time, plugged into the same USB port. Sometimes I connect two at a time. I just accept that Windows will assign the next available letter to the current connected drive. So, if I manually assign a letter to one flash drive, will it get that letter every time, but the other three will not be assigned that letter?
- Yes, that's how it should work.
- Unfortunately this won't work with the same letter assigned to multiple drives. Only the most recent is remembered. They really need to get away from drive letters and switch to using the actual name of the drive.
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Unable to Change Letter or Assign Drive Letter to D/E/F/G
EaseUS Partition Master is a third-party Disk Management equivalent program, which is rated as the top Windows disk management tools in 2020, that overcomes the shortcomings of Disk Management and gives people the other way to solve the most common hard disk problems. Here, when you can't change drive letter in Disk Management, you'll use this alternative software to continue.
Change A Drive Letter in Disk Management
It's supposed to be easy to change a drive letter to a needed one or assign a new drive letter, except the default C: for system partition/boot partition. Theoretically, any letter among D, E, F, G, H... can be chosen and used for other primary partitions or logical partitions. Here's how you change, add or assign a letter of the alphabet to the desired drive in Windows Disk Management. Note that you must be logged on as an administrator to perform the following steps.
Step 1: Open "Disk Management" under Storage by right-clicking "Computer/This PC" > "Manage".
Step 2: Right-click the drive that you want to change, and then click "Change Drive Letter and Paths".
In the next step, you can do any one of the following:
- (1) To assign a drive letter, click Add, click the letter that you want to use, and then click OK.
- (2) To change a drive letter, click Change, click Assign the following drive letter, click the letter that you want to use, and then click OK.
- (3) To remove a drive letter, click Remove, and then click Yes to confirm that you want to remove it.
Why Can't Change Drive Letter As Wanted
Change drive letter and paths grayed out in Disk Management? How to fix the issue of not being able to make a change to the existing hard drive letter? For example, change D to E, or assign a new drive letter as wanted to a newly created hard drive. See what is causing the problem and how to get rid of it.
- The drive you're trying to change might be in use, so you are disallowed to make any changes to it. Just close the program or Window that is using the drive and try again.
- The drive you're working on is either a system partition or a boot partition. You can't make changes to it.
- When you change a letter or assign a new letter to a certain drive but suddenly found that the letter you wanted is unavailable in the drive letter drop-down list, however, the letter is not taken by another drive. Then it might tell you that the letter has already been used by some external storage media that is being connected to the computer right now.
Usually, the rule of the Windows drive letter assignment is like this.
Windows uses MountMgr to manage drive letters. MountMgr will assign the next available drive letter to each device added, regardless of type. With the system drive assigned the letter C, there may be other IDE, SATA or USB devices, such as a DVD ROM or a Flash drive assigned to letters D and E. When adding another drive, Windows will assign the next drive letter available, which in this case would be the drive letter H:
So if there are some external storage devices inserted into the computer, unplug it, and try it again.
If all the listed circumstances go against your case, e.g., the H letter is not being used by another internal or external drive, but it's still unavailable, then try to fix it with other capable partition manager software .
How to Fix Unable to Change Drive Letter and Paths in Windows 11/10/8/7
Besides the situation we mentioned that the option of changing a drive letter in Disk Management is greyed out, there are some other similar errors that will prevent you from completing the job as expected. For example:
- Logical Disk Manager says "Parameter is Incorrect"
- Drive letter missing from the list of available drive letters (Drive letter not available)
Whenever you're trying to change, add or assign a drive letter to a local drive or external hard drive in Disk Management, but failed somehow, you need an alternative tool that can fix the error and move on. EaseUS free partition manager works almost the same with Windows Disk Management in managing a hard drive or a removable/external hard disk, including to change a drive letter and paths.
Step 1. Run EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the target partition, and choose "Change Drive Letter".
Step 2. In the new window, click the down arrow and choose a drive letter for the partition from the drop-down menu, then click "OK".
Step 3. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button in the top-left corner, check the changes, and click "Apply" to change the drive letter of the selected partition.
To change a drive letter in Windows 11/10/8/7 for drive D/E/F/G or an external drive is a very elementary function we can find in Disk Management. However, this tiny modification sometimes would disappoint us, and we can't change drive letter there.
The reasons might be hard to tell, but with EaseUS Partition Master, the third-party comprehensive disk & partition manager, it can be very simple to solve the problem of not being able to change drive letter or assign a new one to a drive. As a matter of fact, it can replace 100% of the functions in Disk Management, in addition, offer many more practical functions that you can't enjoy in the default program. For example, copy partition, merge partitions , migrate OS to HDD/SSD, check partition errors, etc. Download the free partition manager and explore the massive features by yourself.
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Updated by Daisy
Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working in EaseUS for over ten years, starting from a technical writer to a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over 10 years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.
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I love that the changes you make with EaseUS Partition Master Free aren't immediately applied to the disks. It makes it way easier to play out what will happen after you've made all the changes. I also think the overall look and feel of EaseUS Partition Master Free makes whatever you're doing with your computer's partitions easy.
Partition Master Free can Resize, Move, Merge, Migrate, and Copy disks or partitions; convert to local, change label, defragment, check and explore partition; and much more. A premium upgrade adds free tech support and the ability to resize dynamic volumes.
It won't hot image your drives or align them, but since it's coupled with a partition manager, it allows you do perform many tasks at once, instead of just cloning drives. You can move partitions around, resize them, defragment, and more, along with the other tools you'd expect from a cloning tool.
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Let’s try to assign the drive letter through Microsoft Diskpart utility. Follow the steps below to assign the drive letter through DiskPart. Click on start and then type cmd in the search box. Right click on the command prompt icon and select “Run as administrator”. In the Command Prompt, type diskpart and press Enter. Run the following command:
How to Change a Drive Letter Changing a drive letter is pretty simple. Click the Start button, type “Disk Management” in the search bar, and then hit Enter. Note: The program name displayed in the search will not be Disk Management. It will be “Create and format hard disk partitions.”
Can't assign a letter for drive in Windows Disk Manager - Microsoft Community harrify Created on February 18, 2021 Can't assign a letter for drive in Windows Disk Manager I have a drive which have three partitions (one unallocated), I want to change the letter of a partition. I can't change the drive letter.. i tried many software but I can't.
To assign a drive letter using Command Prompt, use these steps: Open Start. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the result, and then select the Run as administrator option. Type the...
Here's how you change, add or assign a letter of the alphabet to the desired drive in Windows Disk Management. Note that you must be logged on as an administrator to perform the following steps. Step 1: Open "Disk Management" under Storage by right-clicking "Computer/This PC" > "Manage".