How to remove drive letters in Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 13, 2018

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

windows 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:

  1. Use Windows-R to open the runbox, type diskmgmt.msc and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard.
  2. 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.

disk management

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.

remove drive letter

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

mountvol command prompt

You need elevated rights to remove a drive letter using the command prompt:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key to display the Start Menu.
  2. Type cmd.exe, hold down the Shift-key and Ctrl-key, and select the item from the list of results.
  3. 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 /?.

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How to remove drive letters in Windows
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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.
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  1. K@ said on March 15, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Can I just say that I remember that the old Amiga did this far more elegantly…?

    Come to that, the Amiga did almost everything way better than Windoze ever has.

    Pity Commodore were so crap at marketing…

    1. q-man said on June 21, 2020 at 11:59 pm

      In my view, Microfiche Filer Plus had more flexibility on an Amiga with 1 meg of memory than Microsoft Access does today. I suppose part might be my lack of knowledge on Access, but I wish there were a version of Microfiche Filer Plus that would do all it would do, and utilize the extra memory and stuff from today. Dr. T’s KCS sequencer also seemed to have more control over midi on the same machine than keyboard sequencers I find today.

  2. DaveyK said on March 15, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Being able to do this via a command prompt is very useful. For my PC, my primary backups are on additional hard drives inside the system (I also have a NAS for secondary backups). To help protect against malware/ransomware, the drives are not mounted by default. Instead, the backup script mounts the drive, runs the backup, then unmounts it afterwards. Nice and seamless.

  3. freewarelover said on March 15, 2018 at 9:03 am

    To simlify the whole process you can use Drive Letter Changer v1.3 Portable freeware

  4. Dosada said on March 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Very handy, especially if WD Passport refuses to eject in Win 7, changing drive letter helps sometimes…

  5. Anonymous said on March 13, 2018 at 6:25 pm


  6. dark said on March 13, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    On Linux, C: drive letter equivalent would be SDA1, D: drive letter equivalent would be SDA2 and so on if you have only one hard drive installed and partitioned. Second hard drive partitions would go by SDB1, SDB2 and so on. Hard drives itself would be called SDA, SDB, SDC, etc. just sharing info in case you didn’t know.

    1. John Fenderson said on March 14, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      That’s usually how it goes, but isn’t so universal that it can be stated without qualification. The exact mapping can vary according to the machine’s hardware configuration (and, to a lesser degree these days, which distro you’re using).

      For instance, on my laptop, the equivalent to C: is /dev/sdb1

      But, perhaps more importantly, Linux handles hard drives in a completely different way than Windows, and the concept of “drive letters” doesn’t exist and isn’t needed by Linux. Unless a user is doing something pretty advanced, they can just treat all the drives collectively the way that Linux presents them: as a single unified “drive”.

  7. Mark Hazard said on March 13, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Handy article, Martin. Thanks!

  8. dmacleo said on March 13, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    you can also just type diskmgmt.msc or (even easier just diskmgmt )into search box w/o using win-r keys.

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