Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Unable to change drive letter

  1. #1

    Unable to change drive letter


    A friend is running Windows 8.1. Her external USB hard drive used to be assigned the letter "E". She says that for an unknown reason, that USB hard drive is now assigned the letter "J" but she would like to have it back to the letter "E".

    I opened Disk Management and tried to change the drive letter from J to E. When I click the drop down arrowhead, the letter "E" is available so I select it and click OK. Win8.1 then says the drive letter E is mapped to a network or local drive.

    When I look at all of the drive letters in Disk Management, the letter "E" is not assigned to anything. Plus the fact that the letter "E" is in the drop down list of available drive letters.

    Anyone know why this is happening and how to solve the problem?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 22,564
    64-bit Windows 10


    Hello skyzoomer,

    You might see if you may be able to use an option in the tutorial below to change the drive letter.

    Drive Letter - Add, Change, or Remove in Windows - Windows 7 Help Forums
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post
    Hello skyzoomer,

    You might see if you may be able to use an option in the tutorial below to change the drive letter.

    Drive Letter - Add, Change, or Remove in Windows - Windows 7 Help Forums
    Hi Brink,

    Helpful as always. I'll try the options in the link you provided the next time I have access to my friend's PC. Will post the results.

    Thanks,
    Skyzoomer
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 22,564
    64-bit Windows 10


      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by skyzoomer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post
    Hello skyzoomer,

    You might see if you may be able to use an option in the tutorial below to change the drive letter.

    Drive Letter - Add, Change, or Remove in Windows - Windows 7 Help Forums
    Hi Brink,

    Helpful as always. I'll try the options in the link you provided the next time I have access to my friend's PC. Will post the results.

    Thanks,
    Skyzoomer

    Tried the options in the link:

    OPTION 1: Disk Management
    Does not show the drive letter E anywhere.

    OPTION 2: Regedit
    Does not show the drive letter E for any of the listed DosDevices.

    OPTION 3: Elevated command prompt
    Diskpart "list volume" does not show the letter E.
    The USB external drive that was assigned the letter E before, is currently assigned the letter J as volume 10. So I did a "select volume 10" and volume 10 was selected. I typed "assign letter=E" and got the following error message:

    Virtual disk service error:
    The specified drive letter is not free to be assigned.

    ADDITIONAL INFO:
    Looking in Win8.1's computer, there is a local drive with the letter E. When I click on it, an error message pops up as follows:

    E:\ is not accessible.
    The volume does not contain a recognized file system.
    Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    Skyzoomer
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 22,564
    64-bit Windows 10


    Are you able to change the drive letter from J to E in the registry? It doesn't matter if there's not an E listed before doing so.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post
    Are you able to change the drive letter from J to E in the registry? It doesn't matter if there's not an E listed before doing so.
    I will try that the next time I have access to my friend's PC. I think it will probably say the same thing as Diskpart did though.
    ...................................

    Since option-3 said:
    ..... Virtual disk service error:
    ..... The specified drive letter is not free to be assigned.
    I think the solution might be to delete the letter E as being a virtual disk. Have been Googling but the solutions using Disk Management wouldn't work since there is no letter E shown for a drive in Disk Management. Any ideas on how to delete the local drive that is assigned the letter E when it is a fictitious drive?

    Thanks,
    Skyzoomer
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 22,564
    64-bit Windows 10


    If it's a mounted virtual disk, then you should be able to just right click on the drive in "This PC" and click on "Eject" to disconnect it and free the drive letter.

    VHD or VHDX File - Unmount and Detach in Windows 8
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 75
    Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit


    Hi skyzoomer,

    Looks like the drive letter E got locked to a non-existent drive - Windows not releasing it even after removing the mapped drive which earlier had that drive letter E.

    You may need to do a drive cleanup to get the drive letters released.

    Follow this procedure:

    Download v 0.8.1 of the drivecleanup.zip from Drive Tools for Windows. ( Later versions should also work, but I haven't tried any of it.)

    Unzip it to a folder, say drivecleanup.

    You will have two folders Win32 and x64 each containing DriveCleanup.exe for 32 bit and 64 bit respectively.

    Remove all USB storage devices from your system (except your Keyboard and mouse). Also disconnect internet.

    Right click on the DriveCleanup.exe and run as administrator. (Use the *.exe file appropriate for your bit version of Windows.).

    After the clean up act, reboot.

    ( When you plug in your USB devices after this cleanup these will be installed afresh. What you have done is to remove all non-present devices and drive letters associated with them and start with a clean slate. )

    Now assign drive letter to the external drive.( A drive letter will automatically get assigned to a plugged in drive but you should be able to change it to any free letter available. All drive letters except those taken by your internal drive/s should now be available. )
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by jumanji View Post
    Hi skyzoomer,

    Looks like the drive letter E got locked to a non-existent drive - Windows not releasing it even after removing the mapped drive which earlier had that drive letter E.

    You may need to do a drive cleanup to get the drive letters released.

    Follow this procedure:

    Download v 0.8.1 of the drivecleanup.zip from Drive Tools for Windows. ( Later versions should also work, but I haven't tried any of it.)

    Unzip it to a folder, say drivecleanup.

    You will have two folders Win32 and x64 each containing DriveCleanup.exe for 32 bit and 64 bit respectively.

    Remove all USB storage devices from your system (except your Keyboard and mouse). Also disconnect internet.

    Right click on the DriveCleanup.exe and run as administrator. (Use the *.exe file appropriate for your bit version of Windows.).

    After the clean up act, reboot.

    ( When you plug in your USB devices after this cleanup these will be installed afresh. What you have done is to remove all non-present devices and drive letters associated with them and start with a clean slate. )

    Now assign drive letter to the external drive.( A drive letter will automatically get assigned to a plugged in drive but you should be able to change it to any free letter available. All drive letters except those taken by your internal drive/s should now be available. )
    Hi Jumanji,

    Will give drivecleanup a try after trying Brink's suggestion of "This PC > Eject". Will ask my friend to do a full backup of the system drive first as a precaution. Will post results.

    Thanks much for helping out,
    Skyzoomer
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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