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Windows Tip: Assign Permanent Letters to Removable Drives

Windows will assign drive letters to external flash drives, SD cards, and other removable storage devices dynamically as you plug them in. If you use a lot of different external storage devices throughout the day, having different letters assigned each time can become annoying and make things feel unorganized. Here’s how to assign permanent letters to each device to make things easier.

Drives Windows

Windows progresses through the alphabet (sans A and B) to assign drive letters to devices as you plug them in. So if you plug in a USB flash drive to get data from it, it might be F: but the next time you plug it in, it might be E: or G: depending on the order you plug them in.

The neat thing is you can assign a permanent letter to a USB drive directly with Windows 7, 8.1, and Windows 10. It’s an easy process, and there’s no need to install any third-party utility.

Assign a Specific Drive Letter in Windows

1. To set this up, plug in the drive that you want to assign a permanent letter. Then open the Run dialog (Windows Key+R) and type: compmgmt.msc and hit Enter or click OK.

1 Run

Or, right-click the Start button to bring up the hidden quick access menu in Windows 10 or 8.1 and select Computer Management.

2 quick access Windows 10 Computer Management

2. Once that’s open, choose Disk Management in the left pane under Storage. It will take a few seconds while Windows looks for the drives currently connected to your PC and displays them in the right pane.

3. Right-click the drive you want to assign a permanent letter to and then choose Change Drive Letter and Paths from the menu.

3 Change Drive Letter

4. A dialog box will open up and here you just need to click the Change button. Then make sure that Assign the following drive letter is selected and choose the letter you want to give it. Click OK and close out of Computer Management.

4 Change Letter

Now, each time you plug that drive into your PC, it will register with the drive letter you gave it.

When assigning your drive letter, make sure to choose a letter toward the end of the alphabet list. For example, X, Y, or Z — otherwise Windows has the tendency to eventually assign a different letter. Also, keep in mind that it will only be the assigned letter on the computer you changed it on. If you take your external drive to a different PC, Windows will give it a different dynamic letter.

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19 Responses to Windows Tip: Assign Permanent Letters to Removable Drives

  1. JayM March 31, 2016 at 7:33 am #

    This IS NOT permanent. Windows will still change them randomly. Again I repeat THIS IS NOT PERMANENT

  2. mini April 27, 2016 at 4:41 am #

    this tutorial is rubbish. i have done this many times, windows still changes the drive letter. this is not permament at all!!!

  3. Ilse May 14, 2016 at 5:20 am #

    Same experience as the other two users. I had changed my drive letter for a USB drive through disk management and it was working great for quite some time when suddenly today the drive letter was changed.

    What I did notice is I had my e-reader connected before I turned on the USB drive (which had the letter assigned). Suddenly my e-reader has the assigned letter from the USB drive.

    So… NOT PERMANENT AT ALL unless you turn on your drive with the “permanent letter” first.

  4. Kumar Abhirup May 31, 2016 at 4:52 am #

    Thanx, this helped me a lot.

  5. Delboy September 13, 2016 at 6:21 am #

    Nope. Windows 10 changes it if I plug in a different usb drive first.

  6. David October 8, 2016 at 12:29 am #

    This doesn’t work at all. You can change the drive letter from there, but if you unplug your unit and plug another one, windows will assign the previous letter to the new unit nonetheless. This is so annoying.

  7. Pablo Guerrero December 10, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    I usually have to use the Disk Management utility to correct the mess that Windows makes with drive letters. The most annoying thing is that Windows even changes the drive letters of those external disks that haven’t been unplugged.

    Plugged to my laptop I always have an external diskdrive that always should be E:
    But if I have a SD card inserted in the SD drive and boot up the computer then the SD card is assigned E: and the always plugged (never unplugged) diskdrive is re-assigned as G: which is annoying since I have an application that looks for its overlays and databases on drive E:

    Is there a way to say Windows that a used drive letter (like E:) is not available for dynamic drive letter assignment?

  8. Will February 21, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    Try assigning a letter well away from ABCDEF, like Z. This way windows won’t automatically reassign your letter when more drives are connected.

    • Steve Krause February 22, 2017 at 10:38 am #

      Exactly what I do Will. Great tip.

      -Steve
      gP

    • Brian Burgess May 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

      This is a great point, Will. I’ll upgrade the article to include your tip. Thanks!

    • Lobo July 8, 2017 at 12:47 am #

      It worked for a while. Then letters were changed after some days… again! 🙁

  9. MyTechMaster March 1, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    What Will says is true. If you assign the last letters of the alphabet to your external drives Windows will ALWAYS REMEMBER AND NEVER OVERWRITE THEM. Just don’t assign two of your external drives the same drive letter and this will work 100% of the time for you.
    Peace!

  10. john March 19, 2017 at 8:12 am #

    It is too late to assign a drive letter near the end of the alphabet. I have done a lot of work that uses drive letter E: I would have to redo all of this to change it to Z:

    Surely, Microsoft would have a tool to assign drives permanently.

    • Mark May 10, 2017 at 6:51 am #

      John, change your other drives to z,y,x, etc. then when the PC boots or you insert another drive/flash, it will be at the end and not take your E: drives spot.

  11. MrTwisted April 1, 2017 at 9:23 am #

    With all the cracks in Windows I don’t see why there isn’t another “standard” OS that’s just as easy (or easier) and plug-n-play, that actually uses “memory” to remember stuff like drive letters.
    Or window size and placement. Or “Yes I’m sure” and “Yes I did click on ‘yes i’m sure'” and “No, I’m not a Robot…you are” and not to ask me to not ever show something again, every time…etc.

  12. Lobo June 25, 2017 at 4:43 am #

    There is a shareware application which addresses this, though it’s intended for computer engineers and system administrators, not regular users. You can configure it to map drive letters according to DeviceIDs and other really permanent data. It runs as a service, to it autostarts with Windows. However, there’s no graphical interface. Everything has to be coded on an INI file, which is highly technical.

    The software is called USBDLM is it’s free for private and educational uses. It’s available at Softpedia and other software archives.

  13. Annoyed July 7, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    The first 2 replies here are annoying. This works 100% unless you have gone and relettered multiple devices to the same letter. In that event only 1 (one) of the devices will acquire the desired letter and always the first. When the second device is plugged in Windows sees that the desired letter is use and uses the next available letter. You cannot give 2 devices the same letter, ever. Get over it.

    Sheesh. I despise idiots.

    If you’re using flash drives, think about reassigning them to A or B; these letters are still available and never used because no one has a floppy drive anymore. This way they can never get in the way of a letter you desire for an external drive.

    For the idiot who programmed access to a database on an external drive, something that should never be done precisely because of drive letter changes, you either need to make sure the external drive is always assigned that letter or mount the drive into an empty NTFS folder to eliminate drive letter access. The only other thing you can do is manually assign a letter to the SD drive so it doesn’t take your precious E.

    Computers should be more like cars and require an operator’s license, there’d be so many less morons trying to use a computer.

    • Lobo July 8, 2017 at 12:53 am #

      Some people at this forum really need a sex life, learning some manners, or probably both.

  14. kloponline July 18, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    Thanks so much for the clear instructions.

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