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How Do I Get Rid Of A Phantom Drive Letter?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Windows Explorer

Carl from Henderson, NV writes: 

Under COMPUTER I have a Removable Disk F. There is nothing plugged in to generate this drive info. I have no idea where it came from. How can I remove this in Windows 7? 

Removable drives, like flash memory or external hard drives, should automatically be removed from the operating system when they are unplugged, but there are cases where Windows can get confused and list a drive that isn’t there. Before doing any complicated troubleshooting for an issue like this, always check the physical connection first. Connect and then disconnect a USB drive (such as a removable flash drive or a USB mouse), restart the computer, and check to see if the drive letter still remains in the list of options in the “Computer” menu.

If physical troubleshooting fails, it’s time to move on to playing with settings in the operating system. Check the taskbar at the bottom-right corner of your desktop to see if the operating system thinks a removable drive is still attached. If so, there will be an icon of a USB drive with a green check mark labeled “Safely Remove Hardware.”

Safely Remove Hardware

If the icon is present, click it and check to see if the removable “F” drive is listed as being connected. Click the “Eject” option to tell your operating system you want to remove the drive, and then restart the computer entirely.

Ejecting the Drive

If the “F” drive still continues to appear after the operating system reboots, or if the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon wasn’t present in the list of taskbar options, navigate to the Start menu and click the “Control Panel” option.

Control Panel

Click the “System and Security” link located near the top of the window and underneath the “Adjust Your Computer’s Settings” heading.

System and Security

Near the bottom of the window will be a green link labeled “Administrative Tools,” usually positioned beneath “Windows Anytime Upgrade.” Click the link to bring up another window filled with options.

Administrative Tools

Double-click the “Computer Management” option to bring up yet another window that lets you directly access your computer’s devices and hard drive partitions.

Computer Managment

Locate the “Storage” heading at the left side of the window and click the “Disk Management” option located directly beneath the heading. A listing of all the drives and drive partitions connected to your computer will appear in the panel at the center of the window.

Disk Management

Right-click the removable “F” drive in the list at the center of the screen and select the “Delete Volume” option from the pop-up menu.

Deleting a Drive

Wait for the operating system to finish deleting the drive and then restart your computer. At this point the drive should no longer appear in the “Computer” menu with your other attached drives.

~ Ty Arthur

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10 Responses to “How Do I Get Rid Of A Phantom Drive Letter?”

  1. Bobbie Wiseman says:

    Sending some praise for this answer to this problem. I do not have or anticipate having this problem, but your solution with all the screen shots, should be easy for anyone to comply with. I am nearing 72 years old and have subscribed to the weekly newsletter with World Start and feel like I learn useful things from it all the time. Just wanted to show my appreciation for what you do!! Thanks a lot!

  2. Elborath says:

    Great tip!

  3. Faith says:

    The original question says “There is nothing plugged in to generate this drive info.” Remember that “removable drive” isn’t always that there’s something plugged in – that’s how my computer shows some card readers (even when empty). Make sure that all drives are accounted for before deleting something that you may need later.

  4. Dave says:

    Started out very hopeful, but unfortunately, the phantom F does NOT appear in the top half of the Disk Management window, where the pop-up with the recommended action (delete volume) is an option. The F drive only shows in the LOWER half of the window…But I right-clicked and chose ‘Properties’ from the pop up, and then clicked on the Driver tab, where I opted to Disable and Uninstall. The damned thing has finally disappeared from the ‘My Computer’ window! I’m about to restart. No further post if it stays gone. Thanks for leading me to the right spot!

  5. EB Young says:

    Dave’s answer afrom a year ago next week worked perfectly on my XPS-300 that had accumulated 4 ghost drives. Thank you.

  6. John says:


    thanks for the info. had the same issue with 4 removable drives appearing. followed your method and they are now gone.

  7. Arlette says:

    “A Haunting”
    OK, to be fair I had to perform a new reinstall after a dumpster-full of MSoft updates totally corrupted my O.S.
    Everything appears to work fine except this:
    Prior to the clean-up & reinstall, I copied my entire C & D drives onto the Passport (Formerly “I” drive) for back-up in case of need.
    I disconnected the Passport prior to the procedure and re-connected it later to pull out some downloads. This is when trouble started.
    The new Windows7 did not identify Passport as being “I” which is logical, BUT it refused me the use of that identifier for the external dive and it called it “J” …because there was already a drive named “I”…really!
    I had correctly disconnected old “I” prior to cleaning “C” and reinstalling Win7 etc. So HOW can “it” know that there was an “I”? The old Win7 was wiped out and the new one did not exist as yet! Obviously something somewhere kept that in memory and passed it on to the new O.S., but what & where can it be?
    I need to find & remove that info in order to erase the “I” ghost drive which shows as active.
    Any suggestion would be most welcome. I hate working with ghosts around.
    Thank you very much,

  8. Allan says:

    I have 4 phantom drives, “E”, “F”, “G”, and “H”,, in file explorer they show up as USB Drives, but are not evident in Disk manager, how do I get rid of them? if I right click them and select Eject, I get a message telling me it is now safe to remove the hardware, but there is no hardware to remove.
    It’s getting really frustrating ,, file explorer takes about 10 minutes to open “my PC”, I think it’s because it is trying to read the drives that aren’t there

  9. HLK says:

    This didn’t work, the drive doesn’t show up on the list on the left, and trying to remove it normally just gives an error message.

  10. TC says:

    Thank you. Just tried this and it worked. I had 6 drive letters that had not been used for years. These letters were not at the top of disc manager but were in the boxes list below. I clicked on the small left box with the drive letter inside it then choose rename. A box opened up and then I clicked remove. Then I restarted the computer and opened explorer and the drive letters were gone. The only ones left are the ones I use.

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