When you connect a new drive (a USB flash drive, optical drive, SD card or another type of storage devices) to your computer, Windows 10 automatically assigns a drive letter to identify the device and make it accessible. However, if you use multiple drives, you'll probably notice a new letter whenever you reconnect the same drive, which can be frustrating.
Fortunately, you can manually assign a permanent letter to any drive you connect using Windows 10 (excluding the C drive, of course). That's not only to stop the OS from assigning different letters. Windows 10 could also try to set a letter that's already in use, and you'll need to resolve the conflict. Or perhaps you simply want to assign drive letters in a way that makes more sense to you.
Whatever the reason, Windows 10 offers a few ways to manually assign permanent drive letters, as long as you connect the drive to the same computer and the letter is available.
In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to permanently assign drive letters to peripherals, such as USB storage devices, disk drives, using Disk Management and the Command Prompt.
How to assign a drive letter using Disk Management
On Windows 10, you can manage drive letters without third-party tools using Disk Management.
To assign a new drive letter, do the following:
- Use the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to open the Power User menu.
- Select Disk Management.
Right-click the drive on the list and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
Click the Change button.
Use the drop-down menu and select the drive letter you want to use.
Once you complete these steps, every time you connect the same drive to the same computer, Windows 10 will automatically set the same letter. However, if you take your external drive to another computer, it'll likely get a different drive letter.
In the rare case, you run out of letters and you need to access a different drive, you can use the steps mentioned above, but on step No. 4, click the Remove button and then connect the new drive.
How to assign a drive letter using Command Prompt
Although Disk Management provides a user-friendly interface to manage drive letters, you can also assign drive letters using the DiskPart command-line tool in Command Prompt.
To assign a drive letter using Command Prompt, do the following:
- Open Start.
- Search for Command Prompt, right-click the result, and select Run as Administrator.
Type the following command to start DiskPart and press Enter:
Type the following command to list all the volumes on your computer and press Enter:
Type the following command to select the volume to change the letter and press Enter:
- In the command, remember to change 3 for the number of the volume you want to change.
Type the following command to assign a new drive letter. In this case, you'll assign the letter Z. Then press Enter:
- In the command remember to change 3 for the number of the volume you want to change.
After you had complete the steps, every time you connect the drive to the same computer, it should receive the same drive letter you assigned using DiskPart. However, if you take the drive to another device, the OS will likely assign it a different letter.
If you must remove the drive letter, you can follow the same steps, but on step No. 6, you'll need to run the remove letter=Z command.
Wrapping things up
While you can manually assign a permanent letter to drives you connect to your computer, the move won't stop Windows 10 from randomly assigning the same letter to another drive when the first drive is not plugged in.
However, you can reduce the chances of getting the same letter, or running into conflicts, by using letters in backwards order. For example, instead of using D, E or F, it might be better to use Z, Y or X when assigning a new letter to a drive.
This guide is focused on Windows 10, but the same steps will work for Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and previous versions.
More Windows 10 resources
For more help articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:
If you use multiple USB drives, you’ve probably noticed that the drive letter can be different each time you plug one in. If you’d like to assign a static letter to a drive that’s the same every time you plug it in, read on.
Windows assigns drive letters to whatever type of drive is available—floppies, internal hard disks, optical drives, SD cards, and external USB drives. This can be annoying—especially if you use backup tools or portable apps that prefer to have the same drive letter every time.
To work with drive letters, you’ll use the Disk Management tool built into Windows. In Windows 7, 8, or 10, click Start, type “create and format,” and then click “Create and format hard disk partitions.” Don’t worry. You’re not going to be formatting or creating anything. That’s just the Start menu entry for the Disk Management tool. This procedure works the same in pretty much any version of Windows (though in Windows XP and Vista, you’d need to launch Disk Management through the Administrative Tools item in the Control Panel).
Windows will scan and then display all the drives connected to your PC in the Disk Management window. Right-click the USB drive to which you want to assign a persistent drive letter and then click “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”
The “Change Drive Letter and Paths” window the selected drive’s current drive letter. To change the drive letter, click “Change.”
In the “Change Drive Letter or Path” window that opens, make sure the “Assign the following drive letter” option is selected and then use the drop-down menu to select a new drive letter. When you’re done, click “OK.”
NOTE: We suggest picking a drive letter between M and Z, because earlier drive letters may still get assigned to drives that don’t always show up in File Explorer—like optical and removable card drives. M through Z are almost never used on most Windows systems.
Windows will display a warning letting you know that some apps might rely on drive letters to run properly. For the most part, you won’t have to worry about this. But if you do have any apps in which you’ve specified another drive letter for this drive, you may need to change them. Click “Yes” to continue.
Back in the main Disk Management window, you should see the new drive letter assigned to the drive. You can now close the Disk Management window.
From now on, when you disconnect and reconnect the drive, that new drive letter should persist. You can also now use fixed paths for that drive in apps—such as back up apps—that may require them.