How to remove drive letters in Windows
Windows assigns drive letters to internal and external hard drives, optical drives, Flash memory cards and other devices automatically when it recognizes them.
The main reason for that is that it allows users of the system to interact with the devices directly; it would certainly be inconvenient if users had to assign drive letters to new devices manually, or even each time devices get connected.
Sometimes, however, you may not want drive letters assigned to devices automatically or at all. A common scenario is a partition of a different operating system that you don't want to access; another, that encrypted drives or partitions don't require a drive letter until they are mounted as you can't interact with the unmounted drives.
Remove drive letters using Disk Management
All versions and editions of Windows include the Disk Management tool. Disk Management is the primary tool of the Windows operating system for managing drives and other storage devices. It provides options to add, change or remove drive letters, shrink or extend volumes, or attach virtual hard drives.
Windows supports quite a few ways to launch the Disk Management tool; the most convenient options in my opinion are the following two:
- Use Windows-R to open the runbox, type diskmgmt.msc and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard.
- Use the Windows-X menu and select Disk Management. (Windows 8 and newer only)
The Disk Management interface may take a moment to load. It lists all available volumes and disks in its interface on start, and you may interact with the volume listing or the visual representation of each disk.
I find it easier to work with the disk list in the lower half of the Disk Management interface, but any action available there is also available in the volume listing.
Disk Management lists disks, partitions, and drive letters. It is easy to spot partitions with drive letters and those without.
To interact with a partition right-click on it in the Disk Management interface.
A right-click displays the context menu. You may use it to execute all supported operations; select "change drive letter and paths..." in this case to remove the drive letter from the partition.
Disk Management lists assigned drive letters of the volume in a new window when you select the option. The interface lists options to add, change or remove the drive letter.
To remove it, select it and then the remove button to execute the action.
Disk Management displays a warning prompt when you select remove:
Some programs that rely on drive letters might not run correctly. Are you sure you want to remove this drive letter?
Removal is not an issue if the volume is not used but it may cause issues if it is used by programs, for instance for data storage. Select yes to continue with the execution or no to cancel it.
Disk Management closes the prompt automatically and visualizes the change in its interface. If you selected remove, the drive letter should no longer be attached to the volume. The change is reflected in Explorer and other file browsers as well.
You may add drive letters to volumes using the same step by step guide. The only difference is that you need to select add and pick one of the available drive letters.
Removing drive letters using the command prompt
You need elevated rights to remove a drive letter using the command prompt:
- Tap on the Windows-key to display the Start Menu.
- Type cmd.exe, hold down the Shift-key and Ctrl-key, and select the item from the list of results.
- Confirm the UAC prompt.
You can use the command mountvol to interact with volumes. A good starting point is the command mountvol /? which lists all supported parameters and all volumes similar to the listing that you get when you run the Disk Management interface.
Use the /D parameter to remove a drive letter from the selected volume. The command mountvol d: /D removes the drive letter from volume D:
Use the command mountvol d: VolumeName To reassign a drive letter. VolumeName begins with \\ and all available volumes are listed when you run mountvol /?.