Today’s tip is pretty specific. You may never need to use it. I personally went a long time without needing to know how to change a drive letter in my Windows computer. But when the situation came up that required this to happen, it was very nice to know how to do it. And it’s actually not even difficult.
Can you think of a situation in which you might need to change a drive letter? Here’s how it came up with me, and with a few of my clients recently.
If you want to do a backup to a local drive (and you should, in addition to the automated online backup), the software that I use and recommend is called Second Copy. I wrote all about it here. When you set up Second Copy, you give it a set of instructions that basically tell it to copy your files to your external USB drive. When you do that, the program remembers the drive letter that your external drive uses. For example, it might show up as drive F. So the next time you run Second Copy, it looks for drive F and backs up your files, piece of cake.
BUT…you don’t leave your external drive plugged in all the time. When it’s not plugged in, it’s not drive F. And what if you plug in some other USB device, such as a flash drive, a printer, or even a different portable drive. When you do that, THAT drive now takes drive F because it is the next available drive letter.
That means when you plug in your external drive next time, it might now be drive G or some other letter. And Second Copy won’t be able to do the backup because it can’t find your drive at drive F.
At this point you have two options:
A. You can change all of the backup settings so that each one looks for drive G instead of drive F. That’s a fair amount of work.
B. You can change the drive letter on your external drive from G back to F. This is much easier.
Here’s how you change the drive letter:
1. Click Start, then right click on Computer and choose Manage. Bet you’ve never clicked on that before, eh?
2. Now you’ll see a new window open. This windows is called “Computer Management”. In that window, you want to click once on “Disk Management”.
3. Now look in the center column of the window, and you will see a list of your drives and their letters. Find the drive you want to change, and right click on it. Then, choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths”.
4. Now you’ll see a window pop up with the drive letter displayed, and a few options. Click the “Change” button:
5. In the next window, the options for “Assign the following drive letter” should already be chosen. Then use the drop-down menu to choose whatever drive letter you want to use. You can use any letter in the list.
6. After you have chosen the letter, click OK and close the remaining windows. All done!
You can go through this process whenever necessary. A warning however – you should probably never change the drive letter for your primary hard drive (usually it’s C) or any of the partitions on the drive. Some programs might rely on that “path” to work properly and you could mess things up if you change the letter.