Remapping Drive Letters Can Help Vista Recognise USB Drives

Back in 2008, we told you how to access the slightly convoluted process for changing an assigned drive letter for a USB drive in Vista. Tech blogger Helen Bradley found that the same approach can also help if Vista is flat-out refusing to recognise a drive which you know is working.

Bradley found that two drives she connected to her PC showed up in Device Manager, but weren't accessible in any applications. Reassigning them a drive letter (by searching the Computer Management option, or right-clicking on the Computer icon and selecting Manage) fixed the problem. Windows 7 uses the same method for reassigning drives, so it could be useful there too if Windows is having one of its occasional USB meltdowns.

Drives not recognized in Vista [Helen Bradley]


    I've been doing this for quite a while now, didn't know it wasn't that well known.

    And if you're still using XP, you can have the same problem. Workaround is a right-click on 'My Computer' and select 'Manage'. Find 'Disk Management' under 'Computer Management (Local)' -> 'Storage'. Your inserted USB device should be visible in the window at the top right, and you can right-click and select 'Change Drive Letter and Paths...'. From here you can change the drive letter assignment to something that is not currently in use.

    This tends to solve the problem on most occasions.

    I'm not sure why this happens under my incarnation of Windows 7, but USB memory keys always get automatically assigned a drive letter, but not so USB external hard drives. I have to dive into Computer Management to manually allocate drive letters.

    When it comes to USB drive letters USBDLM is the way to go. USBDLM stands for USB Drive Letter Manager. It's a service that you install and it watches for USB drives being added then assigns them an appropriate drive letter based on criteria you set in an ini file. It looks a bit technical and confusing at first, but it only has to be configured once. Can't believe this isn't built into Windows yet.

    Sorry, forgot the website

    ... and it's free.

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