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Can I Reassign My Drive Letters?

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I have TWO hard disc drives and a cd rom drive on my computer. The HDDs are C and E, and the cd rom drive is D. Is it possible to swap the HDD letters, i.e C becomes E and E becomes C? Or are the letters fixed at the time of format?

Drive letters are not assigned at format time, and yes, they can be changed. In fact, it’s quite easy to change them, and I do it all the time.

For every drive except “C:”, that is. “C:” is special.

First, let’s look at the how.

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Disk Manager

Right-click on the Start menu and click on Disk management.

Disk Management menu item

In prior versions of Windows, you may need to right-click on My Computer or its equivalent, click on Manage, and, in the resulting application, click on Disk Management.

This will bring up the Disk Management tool.

Disk Management Tool

You’ll see that I have several disks:

  • C: is my system drive
  • L: is a second, internal, data drive
  • E: is my DVD/CD drive.

Having that second drive assigned “L:” seems somewhat odd1, so let’s change it.

Changing an assigned drive letter

Close any programs that might be accessing the drive you’re about to change. Right-click on the drive in Disk Management. In my case, that’s the L: drive. Click on Change Drive Letter and Paths… in the resulting context menu.

Change drive letter on context menu

The resulting dialog will display all the drive letters currently assigned; in my case, L:.

Drive letters assigned to my drive

Click on the drive letter (L: in the example above) and then on Remove. You will get a warning.

Warning about removing a drive letter

It’s not enough that you’ve closed programs currently accessing the drive. Any program configured for any reason to access drives using the old letter will need to be adjusted to access using the drive letter we’re about to assign. You may get additional warnings if the drive is still in use. Generally, you can proceed and then reboot when we’re done for the changes to take effect.

Right-click on the disk in Disk Manager again (it won’t show a drive letter, since we just removed that), and click on Change Drive Letter and Paths… again. This time, click on the Add… button in the resulting dialog. You’ll be presented with a dialog allowing you to select from available drive letters.

Assign letter dialog

I’ve clicked on D — a more sensible assignment for an internal drive, in my opinion. Click on OK and the assignment will be made.

The newly assigned drive letter

You can exit the Disk Management tool. Reboot if you were warned earlier about the drive being in use.

Multiple letters, and paths

You might infer from the interface that you can assign multiple drive letters to the same drive. You cannot. If you try to Add without Removing first, the ability to assign a drive letter will be grayed out.

Paths, referenced throughout the dialog, are an alternate way to refer to drives without consuming another drive letter. The topic is advanced, and I won’t go into detail, but the short version is simply:

  • Create an empty folder on your C: drive. Perhaps call that folder “D-Drive”.
  • Assign the path “C:\D-Drive” to the drive, using steps similar to what we’ve just done.

Now you can access the contents of the D: drive as if it were in the “D-Drive” folder on C:. You can even remove the drive letter assignment if you like, and only access it via that path.

An important word about C:

Do not change the drive letter of your system drive. In most cases, that is C:.

The reason is simple: when Windows was installed, it was installed onto the drive C:, and doing so will have created many, many references to C: that simply changing the drive letter will not update. It’s even possible your machine will not boot if you change the drive letter of C:.

Podcast audio

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Video Narration

Footnotes & references

1: Not unsurprisingly, it’s a side effect of me playing with this feature in preparation for updating this article.

66 comments on “Can I Reassign My Drive Letters?”

  1. I partition my 300gb drive and have got to n:/ so far. To avoid problems if I increase/reduce partitions I reserve x,y and z for cd and dvd. Sometimes if you change these and try to run a programme installed when the drive letter was F:/ there can be a problem.

    Reply
  2. My drive letters are inverted C and D, so my computer looks through my D drive which it thinks is C to get to C which is marked as D, how can I fix this?

    Reply
  3. How brilliant are you! How brilliant is knowledge! I have just spent 4 1/2 hours on the net and speaking to computer buffs searching for the answer to change drive letters (too complicated to explain why). CANNOT BE DONE – CHANGE THE BIOS – ALTER JUMPERS etc. etc. You managed it in under 2 minutes!!! (After I found you)You are wasted and should be as accesable as a screwdriver. You are now No1 Bookmark
    Thankyou
    Kindest regards

    Reply
  4. I just installed a 1X2 TX RAID system using RAID 1 for mirroring. Went I went to install windows it had my drives assigned to J: for the root!
    Now using disk management under XP told me that I could not reassign the Windows Root Drive (J:)
    How do I do this without reinstalling windows?

    Regards,
    PJ Baron

    Reply
  5. Oh my i’m so glad that i found you. I have spent 4 days tring to find out why my computer seen my flash drive but didnt show up when i went to my computer. well to keep it short my dvd drive and my flash drive had the same letter so i plugged in my flash drive and did just what you told me and now it works fine thank you ever so much…

    Reply
  6. Thanks you soooo much. I have been strugeling to find a easy to understand explination for 5 days now, your pictures and explinations are awesome. Thanks very much

    Reply
  7. I have the same problem as the question on your website — My drive letters are inverted C and D, so my computer looks through my D drive which it thinks is C to get to C which is marked as D, how can I fix this? (Posted by Sheila, 9-25-06) Were you able to answer this?

    Reply
  8. Dude. Thanks for the drive switcheroo help. I never knew this stuff and I really appreciate your help, and all the hard work that you put into this site. But, it shouldn’t be called “Ask Leo.” You could name it something comical like “Ask Beardo.” That would be more memorable and funnier. Beards are awesome to the max.

    Reply
  9. HI
    This info was helpful but I’m still having a problem with reassigning the drive letter. For some reason when I installed XP it named my boot drive F: and my second drive C:. Before the change in operatiing systems they were boot: C:, and the second was D:Storage.
    It let me change my storage drive letter, but won’t let me change my boot drive from F to C.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks

    Reply
  10. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Did you read the article? It explicitly talks about exactly that.

    Leo
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFF7OeRCMEe9B/8oqERAqFLAKCMVvnwnKE/sgEMJmQKQr0w/rF1MQCeMd5f
    CE6OVOs/3gjO7ouPdDFJBRs=
    =482d
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

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  11. I appreciate it Leo. You’ve made something that most people make out to be a four hour expedition through cmd a 20 second switch. You are now bookmarked bro.

    Reply
  12. But my system always forgets the new drive letter assignments on my CDROM & CDRW drives. Everytime I boot up, the drive letters have changed back to the first available letters above my HDDs’ partitions. To match my older computer’s CDROM & CDRW drives’ letters V: and T:, I have done the disk management drive letter change routine over and over, but each time I reboot these two drive come back as M: & N:. Additionally, Roxio’s (EMC8) drag-to-disk will not let you change the non-existent M: to T: so that I can use it to eject, format, etc. It holds on to the erroneous M: even though no M: exists resulting in a rediculous message such as “Drive is Busy” when I try to use it to eject a CDRW. EMC8 “Home” properly shows the CDRW drive as T: but apparently Drag To Disk checks only during it’s startup process and retains what it found at startup — the erroneous M:. Help!

    Reply
  13. I reassign drive letters to the way i need them. then everytime i reboot they change back??? why???
    I just installed new raid sata hard drive. My raptor which has 200 gigs of info and audio/video session files on it needs to be set at drive D!! for some reason the dvd drive wants that letter evrytime i reboot??? help please!!???

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  14. HI, I had to reistall my DVD on the “F” drive, and now its missing. Now I only have the “G” drive . Is there anything I can do?

    Sincerly Kenny P.S I read the letters above but I don’t understand it too well.

    Reply
  15. What about the A: (floppy) drive. I have a computer that is only for use with a particular program. In the program it asked to “backup” and dose so on a floppy. It takes forever. If I could assign the USP card as the a: it would make things so much easier.

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  16. thanks Leo and all those great people posting helpful information on the internet! Always amazed how easy it is to find info … thanks to those that devote time to helping others!

    Reply
  17. I have a simular problem… except I have 3 drives in my pc. 1st one is an older ata and the other 2 are newer sata drives. when I re-installed windows it assigned my drives as follows:
    c: is the older ata
    d: is the first sata
    e: is the second sata
    Now here is my problem.
    When Windows was installed it went on to the D: drive but C: is my boot drive. All the boot files are on that drive and not on the other two. I would like to remove my C: as it is getting older and does not sound that good.

    There is currently nothing on either my C: (except the boot files) and E: drive.
    I have tried to copy the boot files over to E: and removed C: and swapped the cables around but it still will not boot up.

    Is there any way I can swap my C: and D: or C: and E: as I really want to remove my old drive before it fails???

    Reply
  18. I agree with Mike French. The site should be called
    “Ask Beardo” because it makes so much more sense and would be funnier than just boring “Ask Leo”. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
  19. I freakkin LOVE YOU!

    My external one day just went from G to N.

    Dunno why. It irritated me to know end.
    And, because that’s one of my photo storage units the Lightroom has assigned to it’s backups and databases…I was looking at a heap of crappy, crappy trouble.

    You have saved my A$$.

    Thank you again,

    Christina

    Reply
  20. Help !!!!

    I have an external drive which I back up to daily came to back up files and 2 things, the drive id has changed to F: and it states its full and do I want to format it…obviousley NO.

    I thought if I renamed it to its previous drive letter in this case G:it would recognise the path and my files would be there, wrong so I have a drive that has heaps of data on it yet it shows it as full disc with no bytes and I cant read it.

    Please can you help and advise what I need to do.

    Many Thanks
    Colin Hudson

    Reply
  21. I tried reassignment but only got letters to change that are after the two that are missing.I have HP M370n Media Center.My Dvd writer Cd writer combo wont recognize cds /Mp3s that I recorded on it and shows up at 0 bytes like nothing is on it but there is.Also both my combo player/record and my other HP CD writer that I installed myself after the factory CD rom player quit has reassigned what was formerly E: 300n and F:HP 8000n to G:compactflashI/II – Cd Drive and H: smart media nad has the icons of both by them yet my smart media and compact flash is still L: and M: I cant figure out how to switch them back with icons and make them E and F again.I tried your method but it wont let me change to E or F as those letters seem to be missing.Any clues?Also I cant find updated drivers for 300n.

    Reply
  22. I bought a new Toshiba notebook, in order to run some of the old software.. I had to partition the HDD with a D: drive.. so, as required.. I had changed the CD ROM drive to E: drive.. after few days of struggle, everything is working.. all in a sudden.. I lost my E: drive?? now I have removed D: drive.. I mean removed the whole partition.. but I still can’t see my CD ROM drive.. it is really frustrating.. anyone had this experience.. any solution?
    thanks for all your help.
    Gs

    Reply
  23. My problems that I posted on March 21, 2007 seem to have finally resolved themselves. My personally assigned drive letter T: for the CDRW & V: for the read only CD player seem to be staying that way between boots now. Must have been corrected in a Microsoft update or something.

    Reply
  24. ok i got a dell 1100 inspiron won’t read dvd/cd rom i tryed updating driver, roll back,and last but not least changing the drive letter. i was thinking unstilling the software and redownloading from dell s website u got any other methods i could try???

    Reply
  25. hi i have an ifriends computer and i just installed a super multi dvd rewriter but now its sayin cd drive file system unknown and i have zero bytes on my drive d im not to good with computers so im kind of stuck is there something i have dones wrong please help if u can thanks!!

    Reply
  26. I found this article ages ago and it was very useful at the time but I never commented. I’ve searched for the page again because I had a friend with the same issue I had originally and this page easily explained how to change the drive letter with screen shots etc which is really helpful.

    Originally I’d been trying to access some files on my USB memory stick and it wouldn’t show up in “my computer” so I searched for why this would happen and because I already had a mapped network drive with the same letter I now know that it will only recognise one drive with that letter at a time… the page in question (no idea what page it was specifically) said change the drive letter assigned to it but didn’t tell me how. This page did :o)

    Reply
  27. Hi.. I want to install Windows XP on my 80GB external HardDisk..Pls suggest me proper steps for same..also I came to know that even if I do it, the OS when booted frm HDD will be very slow..as it will use processor from PC!! Is it the case ??

    Reply
  28. hi leo, i have recently been attacted by a worm called ‘silly dc’it changes the drive paths of the c and d drives i think i have cleaned it all up, but i am still getting a reference to ‘ resycled\boot’ as the path for the c and d drive how do i change that??? thanks in advance
    Alex
    ps im using xp pro with service pack 1

    Reply
  29. Your directions to change drive letters is very easy to carry out. I have a problem because my
    D: drive is shown as (Z)(D) I would like to get rid of the (Z). I am not sure wether to follow what you say or wether I would have problems
    I have sbsribed to your site and am waiting for the email Thanks for a very good site…Brian

    Reply
  30. Does not work in my case. I have G: drive and want to change it to D:, it does change my letter but after the boot the paths are the same linked to G so all my programs installed on G: are unaccesible.

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  31. i ve a mini laptop wit 2gb HDD.I CANT RUN ALL OTHERAPPLICATIONS COS THE HDD SPACE IS SMALL.I TRIED AN OS ON AN ETERNAL HARDRIVE.AFTER FORMATING AND COPYING OF FILES N BOOTING TO INSTALL THE WINDOWS ITS SHOWING ME A BLUE SCREEN .CAN GO FUTHER THAN DAT.WHAT MUST I DO

    Reply
  32. I installed a new c drive but it came up as H How can i get it to C ? I unhooked My card reader and my burner rebooted still comes up as H.What can I do ?

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  33. I wiped my hard drive to re-install windows XP. When installing it used the “H” as my system drive. Can I change this to “C” without problems, or without removing windows and starting over?
    When patitioning the drive, it showed other drives, but it wouldn’t let me delete them. This is my 1st time installing windows.

    You’d best reinstall. The problem is that the “H:” is most likely saved in so many different places that you wouldn’t be able to find and change them all.

    Leo
    27-Feb-2010

    Reply
  34. I have multiple drives mapped, and it looks like I accidentally remapped the e: (my CD drive) to a file server. I have disconnected e:/ drive, but I still cannot see the CD drive to relabel it. Help.

    Reboot, and see if that resolves it.

    Leo
    22-Apr-2010

    Reply
  35. After selecting a new drive letter for my external hard drive (I want P instead), I get an error message that says “The parameter is incorrect.” Any ideas why?

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  36. To clarify, I’m on a brand spankin’ new Asus laptop with Windows 7, and just about the only thing I’ve done is plug in my external hard drive and load Picasa. (I need the drive to stay the same letter for Picasa.) The laptop says the drive is D: for that external hard drive, and I’m I’m used to D being an important internal hard drive but I’m not sure how this laptop’s set up. Could that be why selecting P doesn’t work? (And I tried Z and it doesn’t work either.)

    Reply
  37. It turns out that I can use M, just not P or Z or Q. Strange. But M works, so I’m going with it! Thanks for this helpful article.

    Reply
  38. my h drive has been relabelled j but when i go to the drop down box in disk management it opffers me a,b then from j onwards… why has it skipped H ? i need to relabel it H..help im [ID deleted] on twitter thanks

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  39. Thank you Leo. You have saved me so much fruitless messing around on my machine to keep my portable hard drive with F assigned. Thank you, your advice was absolutely spot on.

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  40. My computer detects the dvd and the cd as different units, and they are the same. One as F and the other as Z but i need to use z as a network connection. The problem is that i can only see the dvd drive in disk management so i can only change the F. How can i change the letter of the Z cd drive?

    Reply
  41. i had windows vista in my laptop.i put out the internal hard disc and i made to it a format with a docking stasion.the problem now is that i cant give the letter c again in this disc because its allready on the lap top that the docking stasion was on.now i am tyrying to run windows with thios hdd and they stop and message telling me that is not any hdd in the lap top

    Reply
  42. Thanks so much, Leo. I have 3 EHDs and my categories in ACDSee are assigned to one of these so when the letters changed, I lost my ability to go to those searched files. Great tutorial! You’re wonderful!
    PS: I always read through my recipes before starting to make sure I have everything I need. Sorry Cyberpilot. I hope nothing drastic happened.

    Reply
  43. my c drive is 1.95gb and my d drive is 35.3 thats how much they can hold not how much free storage there is and my pc is crapping out! please help, {email address removed}

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  44. It is wonderful and I changed my CD/DVD drives to G: and H: long time ago but Windows-10, creates an artificial drive it calls {system reserved” and as I changed one of my drives holding major data to the same letter it had for System Reserved, I had difficulties getting Image Backups and then Restore from these Backups, as they insisted on using the same letter I had before for the then System Reserved.
    Now, in my Image Backups, avoiding this confusion, I back up C: Only and forget about E: which is actually replaced by J: and E: is a healthy relatively large HDD of 2 TB.
    My Backup/Restore uses Acronis 2018. which in its memory always included my old E: as the System Restore for C: and not the current J: Interestingly, and this is something your readers should remember, The “System Restore” is not essential to Restoring from a Backup, although a strange unmentioned notice anywhere, the many icons on the Desktop, do not come completely or perfectly using the C: only for both Backup and Restore. So, I kep separately the Desktop data separately on aa a small USB memory that I update regularly. There is also a free software called “System Restore” and I keep its data which is few bytes on same USB memory stick. It allows the icons to be located on “”Geographically” same location, I has them, not just bundled to the left of the screen (Desktop)!

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  45. I do not see what the advantage of the drive letter system is when compared to the UNIX system of mounting somewhere on the / tree. In fact I think the UNIX system abstracts better.

    E.g. imagine that you have a certain application that needs to write to some directory a lot and you want to give it a faster disk. With UNIX you just connect the disk and mount it on the right place. With Windows you will have to connect the disk and then change the configuration of the software to use the new path which may or may not be a hassle.

    If the software does not care about what physical drive it uses then it should not have to specify it either. And most software does not care. The drive letter system is clunky and should be abstracted away IMO.

    Reply
  46. At some point in your article, you mentioned to click on Removing the drive letter and thereafter to right-click on the same partition without a drive letter now in order to change and assign a new drive letter. Why cannot one just click on “change ” in the first place without removing the drive letter?. I have done it a lot of times in the way I just described without any problem.

    Is there a reason for that?. Just trying to understand!.

    Reply
      • Thanks a lot, Leo!. You know, nowadays, I am very curious about everything that has to do with procedures and new knowledge in computing. I am trying to absorb as much as I can, for I know one day it would be worth the effort. That was the only reason for my question.

        Reply
  47. Is there any way, having once assigned a persistent letter to a drive, to unassign it and get Windows to go back to assigning a temporary (available) letter instead? How do I do this? Do I have to reformat the drive?

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  48. I bought a new Asus Laptop with Windows 10 installed. Switched it on and before it had completed updating windows 10 I got a message to say that it could not finish the updates as there was not sufficient Disk space on the internal 30Gb HDD! I purchased a 2.5″ 250Gb Crucial HDD. which fitted into the spare drive bay. formatted it and using easus, Copied the C drive to D. I am now stuck as it will not let me swap the “c” and d”” drive letters. I suppose that could reformat the c drive, but this also contains two other partitions, EFI System Partition and Recovery partition. What do you suggest?

    Reply

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