Reallocating USB Sticks and External
This document details the process to change the drive letters of USB sticks and external drives. A user is
sometimes required to do this when an external hard drive device is not recognised by their computer.
This is normally caused by a drive mapping being in existence, normally being taken by a front of house
(PMS) system. Please see the example below for a simplified explanation of how the problem occurs:
1. As you can see above ‘My Computer’ contains the main hard drive known as C:, a CD drive
known as D: and the mapped network drive to a PMS system known as F:
2. I have now inserted my external hard drive but as you can see above it has not been listed
3. This is because a computer ignores mapped network drives when allocating drive letters. This
therefore means my external hard drive has been given the letter of ‘F’ as it is next in sequence
from my CD drive that is currently the D: drive
4. Using this guide you will be shown how to rectify this problem so that you can keep your
mapped network drives while using an external device
I need to point out that to perform this task you will need administrator rights of your PC to change the
drive letter given to your external hard drive. Please follow the points below even if you do not know if
you have administration rights to your PC as Windows will automatically inform you if you do not have
permission. If this is the case then please feel free to log on to the von Essen support site and I can assist
you with curing this problem.
1. Click your ‘Start’ button and select ‘Control Panel’. If you have turned off the XP theme to your
PC you will need to click your ‘Start’ button and then choose ‘Settings’ from the menu and then
2. You will need to have your control panel in the classic windows mode. If you see the below
screenshot on the top left of your control panel window you will need to click the text that says
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‘Switch to classic view’, if your control panel does not state this then you are already in the
3. You must now double click the icon for ‘Administrative Tools’, the icon will look like the one
4. Once in the ‘administrative tools’ please double click the icon labeled ‘Computer Management’
and the needed window will appear
5. The new window you have on screen is the one that contains the option for changing the letter
of your external hard drive
6. On the left hand side of this window you have a list of different options to view, please click the
one that is labeled ‘Disk Management’ (found under the ‘storage’ list). The screen shot below
shows you the screen that you should now have in front of you.
7. Please do not let the above screen put you off the next steps, it might look more complicated
than it actually is. The above window is just displaying a more detailed list of all the drives that
you have on your computer. As you can see my external drive is currently being allocated the
letter F and this is why it is not appearing in my main drive list found in ‘My Computer’.
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8. Your USB stick/external drive will be labeled with the manufacturers name so should be easy to
spot. Once you have found it you must right click it to bring up a small options menu and choose
the option that is labeled ‘Change drive letter and paths’.
9. A new screen will appear with a few buttons. Please click the button labeled ‘Change’ and
another one will appear, please see below for the two screens you should now see
10. On the second window you can see a drop down list, from this select an unused drive letter, L-R
are normally safe options on a von Essen workstation.
11. You must now click OK and then OK to all the confirmation windows that appear.
12. Your external drive will now be assigned its new drive letter and will now appear under ‘My
Computer’, this icon can be found on your desktop and your start menu. As you can see on the
screen shot below, I now have my mapped F: drive and my external drive that has now been
changed to the E: drive.
Each time you connect your external drive it will now be assigned its new designated drive letter and
should not become hidden again. As with all things PC related please take care when doing the above
and make sure you follow the instructions exactly, if you have any doubts or worries then please do not
attempt this and just get in touch with myself.
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