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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    How to reset external HDD drive letters?

    I have quite a stack of USB hard drives to which I've assigned drive letters. When they were new, Windows would assign the next available drive letter whenever the drive was plugged in, and that letter would vary depending on what else was plugged in. Now it used the forced drive letter I've assigned.How can I reset those drives to the "auto" letter assignment? When I nuke the drive and then create a new partition, if I say "don't assign a drive letter" then Windows doesn't see the drive at all.

    Gotta be something simple I'm missing . . . .

    Thanks

    al

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger
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    This might help you do the deed.

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to F.U.N. downtown For This Useful Post:

    A1ex (2014-05-10),Rick Corbett (2014-05-10)

  4. #3
    Lounger leejosepho's Avatar
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    In any Windows installation beginning with somewhere around Win2K, just go to "Disk Management" inside "Administrative Tools" at your Control Panel and assign any drive letter of your choosing.
    note: You might first have to remove a letter or two in order to begin the shuffle.

  5. #4
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    F.U.N. - good try. It found and deleted 18 USB drive drivers. But when I plugged in one of my drives to which I've assigned a letter, it displayed that letter. When I deleted the partition on that drive and created a new one without a drive letter, windows explorer doesn't show the drive. Disk management does.

    FWIW this is Win 8.1 . . .

    To try to explain better - I want Windows to auto-assign a drive letter, just as it does for new drives or did for these older ones when they were new. Apparently, that manually-assigned drive letter is stored somewhere on the drive itself. If I had an extra computer, I could probably verify that, but there's just this one laptop . . . (we live in our motorhome and are permanent travelers - spare computers take up space we don't have.)

    Any other thoughts?

    al

  6. #5
    3 Star Lounger
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    I'm pretty sure the drive letter is in Windows itself. First time it reads the disk it determines what kind of drive it is (and possibly it's serial number?) and then assigns a drive number, which it will try to use every time you plug it into the same port.
    You might try plugging in an existing good drive and right click My computer, manage - go into disk management and select Remove. Then use the safe disconnect to complete removal. If it isn't assigned a new drive letter after that, go into hardware manager and tell it to rescan for new hardware.
    Other than that...good luck!

  7. #6
    New Lounger
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    No luck so far. Drive is redetected, but Windows doesn't assign a drive letter.

    Thanks
    al

  8. #7
    Lounger leejosepho's Avatar
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    I have never quite figured out how or where all of this works, but I think the only way to get a specific installation of Windows to not use a previously-assigned drive letter within is to either change that drive letter or to reformat the partition or device in order to give it a new UUID. And to get it to see a device as being completely "new", I think you will have to reformat that device in a different machine.

  9. #8
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aslaksonal View Post
    I have quite a stack of USB hard drives to which I've assigned drive letters. When they were new, Windows would assign the next available drive letter whenever the drive was plugged in, and that letter would vary depending on what else was plugged in. Now it used the forced drive letter I've assigned.How can I reset those drives to the "auto" letter assignment? When I nuke the drive and then create a new partition, if I say "don't assign a drive letter" then Windows doesn't see the drive at all.
    When you format a portable drive, let Windows assign it a drive letter. This is not the same as a drive letter being assigned by you (a "forced" drive letter) it is the "Auto" assigned drive letter, and will be the next available drive letter. This allows Windows to assign a drive letter whenever the drive is plugged back in - it will be the next available drive letter. When you deny Windows the assignment of a drive letter, it won't assign a drive letter the next time you plug that particular drive in, either.

    When you don't let Windows assign a drive letter, the only place you'll be able to see the drive is in Disk Management. Explorer can't "see" drives without drive letters, and can't display their contents.

    To see what drive letters are assigned, you can use DISKPART. Drive letters that you have assigned, but have then formatted that particular drive, will still show as Removable in DISKPART with a status of No Media when you run List Volume.

    To regain a user-assigned drive letter to the pool of available drive letters for Windows to assign when a portable drive is plugged in, you'll have to select that disk so that it has focus in DISKPART, then use the Remove command. Say for example the drive letter is K, in DISKPART you would first use List Volume, then from the list use the Select command to give focus to the volume number that has that drive letter, then use Remove Letter=K and hit Enter.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

  10. #9
    3 Star Lounger
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    F.U.N. downtown - Many thanks for posting the link to the Techspot article and hence Uwe Sieber's DriveCleanup utility.

  11. #10
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    Sometimes the USB data gets messed up see if this helps http://www.techspot.com/community/to...rivers.145884/
    Joe

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