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Restoring A Missing Drive Letter

Richard MI writes:

I just got my Turbo Tax program disk for this year and when I went to load the program, I found out that my D-Drive had lost its relationship to the computer and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back in the system. The drivers were still there in the list, but not the drive. Is this a hardware malfunction or a system problem? None of my disks would function in this drive. Any ideas?

Missing drive letters don’t happen often in Windows, but when the problem does occur it’s a baffling annoyance that can throw off your whole day – especially if you need to use a specific program or access a specific file. Solving the case of the disappearing drive letter isn’t too difficult, but it will require playing with your computer’s system settings (or possibly even taking apart the machine to check hardware connections).

If the drive that is no longer appearing is a physical drive, such as a hard drive or DVD drive, head to the “Start” menu and open the “Control Panel” window (instructions for mapping a network drive – instead of a physical drive – are found below).

The Control Panel

Click the green “System and Security” heading located at the top-left corner of the Control Panel.

System And Security

Open the “Administrative Tools” window by clicking the green link at the bottom of the window, located just underneath “Windows Anytime Upgrade” link.

Administrative Tools

Double-click the icon labeled “Computer Management,” which is in the window’s center panel and positioned underneath the “Computer Services” icon.

Computer Management

Open the “Storage” sub-menu on the left side of the screen so the “Disk Management” option becomes visible, and then click “Disk Management” to make a list of drives appear in the window’s center panel. The center panel may take a few seconds to populate with data as your operating system checks for all connected drives.

Disk Management

Right-click the drive that no longer has a proper letter association and choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”

Changing A Drive Letter

Click the “Change” button at the bottom of the pop-up window and then select the drive letter you want to use from the drop-down menu. Select “OK” to set the drive to the appropriate letter. If no drive letter appears at all, you need to click “Add” instead of “Change” and then select the drive letter and click “OK.”

The Change Button

The drive may not appear in the list at all if the issue isn’t caused by a software setting. The problem may instead be a simple hardware issue where the cable has become dislodged or the drive itself has died and needs to be replaced. If you are unable to add the drive through the “Disk Management” screen, turn off your computer and unplug the power cable. Disconnect the computer’s side panel (either by removing the attached Phillips screws or by pressing down on an unlock button) and pull the panel off so the drives and cables are visible. Check to ensure the cable attaching the drive to your computer’s motherboard is firmly connected at both ends and press them in firmly if they are disconnected. In the event the cables aren’t dislodged you will likely need to completely replace the drive.

If you have a network drive that no longer has a drive letter, instead of a standard physical drive, return to the “Start” menu and click “Computer.”

The Computer Menu

Click the button at the top of the window labeled “Map Network Drive.”

Mapping Network Drive

Open the “Drive” drop-down menu and select the letter you want to use for the network drive, and then click “Browse” and double-click the network drive’s location. Map the network drive to your selected drive letter by clicking “Finish.”

Choosing A Drive Letter

~ Ty Arthur