Vista and XP: Reassign/Change Drive Letters

Explains how to switch drive letters in a XP or Vista system.

When one adds a new hard drive, partition, or CD-ROM, the natural order of the drives may be changed. This will walk you through changing the drive letters to whatever you want.

    1. Open the Control Panel
    2. Select Classic View (if not already setup that way)
    3. Click Administrative Tools Folder
    4. Double-click the Computer Management icon
    5. Computer Management window will open. Click storage in the left page.
    6. Double-click Disk Management
    7. Right-click the drive you want to change
    8. Select Change Drive Letter and Paths
    9. Click the Change Button
    10. Select the drive letter to which you want to assign it
    11. Note the warning and agree if you accept the risks
    12. Close out the disk management


Switching drive letters need an extra step. As two drives cannot be assigned to the same letter, you many need to temporarily change one of the drives to something random.

For example, after installing a new storage hard drive, my system had my main drive as C, CD-ROM as D, and storage drive as E. I switch my CD-ROM to X for a second, switch my storage drive to D, and then assign my CD-ROM to E. The switch is completed.


    1. You should not change drives containing system information or installed programs.
    2. You should not change your CD-ROM drive if an installed program looks for a “run disk” in order to run

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • Jim

    i have an XP machine. it has had an external hard drive connected that has all my music loaded on. it has worked fine for a few years. music is set up through media player, i have also built playlists, etc. in My Computer, this external has always been “L drive”. all of the sudden it doesnt show up in my computer, i cant access music in media player- no paths. i tried plugging it into other USB ports with still no recognizing of the drive. i have plugged mp3 players into these USB ports, and they do get recognized. i plugged a different external hard drive into the USB ports, and it doesnt show up either. does my computer now have a prob with external hard drives? very strange- HELP

  • Lee

    I want to switch the drive letter between E and F. Referring to your instruction, I changed the drive E to X successfully. However, I can’t find out the E in the drop down list when I tried to change the drive F to E. I also tried to reboot the company and do it again. However, I’m still unable to get letter of E in the drop down list. What should I do in this situation?

  • david

    Thank you SOOOOOOOO much!!!!! you wouldn’t believe how much this has helped me!!! you guys are the best :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • chicka

    My cd rom drive won’t allow a right click

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic! Windows XP now recognizes my 2nd hard drive! Thanks.

  • Edozaone

    Cannot change drive letters in a dual boot situation XP, VISTA, Win 7. I have two IDE drives and two SATA drives in the same computer, one external USB drive, the mobo is ASUS P4S800D-X. Everything works fine. Run Battlefield 2142, Modern Warefare 2,
    Quake Wars and EMPIRE: TOTAL WAR. I tried to change the drive letter for XP to C: from L: Need C: drive letter to install my version of MAYA software, couldn”t do it. Can you help, thanks.

  • Edozaone

    I ran into this situation fouling around with more than one IDE, SATA and External hard drives. I learned to start wisely and pay attention to which OS formats the hard drive and what role the bios hard drive assignment detect. When I started to format the hard drives the bios had to be updated, there’s a noval idea, how does the bios get explaned. Good luck and keep truckin-there are ansers.

  • car dvd for chrysler 300c

    That is exactly what I needed after I partitioned.

  • Imnaughtynow

    i am unable to get to my control menu now what ?? plz help

  • Trilliongrams

    This worked when I had to reinstall my internal media card reader on my Dell Inspirion. When I booted up the machine, the card reader claimed F: as its own, but I had a networked drive that had that letter first. Easy fix! Reassign card reader to J:, and my networked drive was free to use F: again.

    Thanks MickeyMouse!

  • i have an XP machine. it has had an external hard drive connected that has all my music loaded on.

  • Vste787728

    thanks a lot i was about to delete my i tune libary and start over again because the drive alphabets got changed