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Removable drives receive drive letters based on availability. For example your USB flash drive could receive the drive letter G when it is plugged in alone, but it might receive the drive letter H, when your external hard drive was plugged in and grabbed the G first. As this demonstrates, drive letter assignments for removable drives are not permanent.
In some cases, however, a permanent drive letter assignment is desirable. Let’s say you have set up a backup routine. Your storage location is an external hard drive. You specified the path to this hard drive, assuming it would always be assigned the same drive letter. If however, another device is connected and occupies the respective drive letter, the backup may fail. To avoid this scenario, you can permanently assign drive letters to selected devices.
DriveLetterView is a freeware utility for Windows, which provides a list of currently and previously connected devices and their respective drive letters. Moreover, you can use this tool to remove devices or change their drive letter assignment. If desired, a list of all drive letters with assigned drives and other properties can be exported to a simple text file or saved in CSV, XML, or HTML format.
DriveLetterView comes in a ZIP archive and being a portable tool it doesn’t require an installation. Simply extract the files, run the EXE file as Administrator, and you will see a list of your drives, similar to the one shown in the screenshot below. Note that if your anti-virus software reports DriveLetterView as malware, it’s a false positive!
Using the red X in the top left you can delete drive letters of devices that are not currently plugged in. This way you can make drive letters available and subsequently assign them to other devices from the list.
Note that DriveLetterView cannot be used to change the drive letter of a local hard drive!
Windows Computer Management
In case you are wondering whether assigning drive letters can be done in Windows without the help of third party software, the answer is yes, this is possible. It does however require that the respective device is connected.
In Windows 7, click the > [WINDOWS] + [R] key combination and run > compmgmt.msc. Within the > Computer Management window switch to > Storage > Disk Management.
You can now right-click on any of the devices listed on the left and select > Change Drive Letter and Paths… In the window that opens, click the > Change… button. In the next window, select the desired drive letter and > OK your changes.
The change is instant. The next time you connect that device to your computer, it will again be assigned the drive letter you selected. Moreover, the Windows solution also allows you to change drive letters of local hard drives. Be careful though as these changes can render software unusable.
Using DriveLetterView instead of the native Windows Computer Management tool not only has the advantage that it requires less mouse clicks. In contrast to the default Windows solution, you can easily manage drives that are not currently connected, but were previously connected to your computer. DriveLetterView thus is a handy tool for those of you who frequently switch around external drives and wish to permanently assign drive letters to specific devices.
How many removable drives do you have and are you going to take advantage of the possibility to permanently assign drive letters?