Fix: Windows 11/10 doesn’t Assign Drive Letter to External and USB Flash Drives

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Have you ever notice that Windows 11/10 is not assigning a drive letter to an external drive? When you connect any external removable USB hard disk or flash drive, Windows should automatically assign a drive letter to its partitions. But, it does not go through. When you remove the drive from your PC, you will also notice that the drive letter is not released automatically, which you have assigned them manually. Further, when you connect a drive to your PC, a message does not appear indicating that a new device is installed. Although the external driver appears in the device manager, Windows doesn’t assign any letter to exterior HDD partitions.

This is a frustrating moment, as Windows should automatically assign a drive letter, but you have to give a drive letter for an external HDD drive manually. To manually assign a drive letter, you need to go through the Disk Management console. To do this, open the Computer Management console by pressing Windows + X shortcut keys and then go to the Storage section > Disk management. Then, in the list of drives, locate the connected removable USB drive. Next, right-click on the partition and select “Change Drive Letter and Path.” Is it possible for a novice user to go through these steps every time they connect an external USB hard drive to a PC? At least for me, I can not repeatedly afford to go through disk management to assign a drive letter to a USB drive when we connect them to my computer.

Why my Windows 11/10 PC is not assigning Drive Letters Automatically to External Drives?

A lot of reasons may be behind not assigning a drive letter to an external USB HDD or SSD. We will recommend checking the following:-

  • Check if Virtual Disk is enabled?
  • See if Automatic Mounting of New Volume is enabled?
  • Ensure to disable “Hidden” and “No Default Driver Letter.”

How to Enable Virtual Disk in Windows 11/10?

If the Virtual Disk service is turned off on your computer, you may face several disk issues, including letters not being assigned to external disks. Hence, you need to enable it while troubleshooting your Windows. To ensure Virtual Disk service is running on Windows 11/10, follow these steps:-

Step 1. Open Services Manager.

To do that, press Windows + R keys from the keyboard. When Run dialog box opens, type services.msc and then click OK.

Step 2. When Windows Services opens, look for the Virtual Disk service.

Step 3. Make a right-click on it, and select Properties.

Step 4. Click the Start button if you see the service is stopped.

Step 5. Then, click the Apply/OK button.

If you prefer to use Command Prompt to stop or start a service on Windows PCs, we have an alternate way to perform the above steps:-

Step 1. Open the Command Prompt with administrative rights.

Step 2. When elevated Command Prompt opens, check the state of the service by typing and pressing the following command; if you read it as stopped, then you need to enable it.

sc query vds

Step 3. To enable this service again, issue the following command:-

net start vds

When you’re done with the above command, remove and connect the device again. Try reinstalling the driver if you have got any from your manufacturer and see if the issue persists.

How to Check if Automatic Mounting of New Volumes is Enabled?

If the issue still persists after executing the first method, you need to ensure that Automatic Mounting of New Volumes is enabled on your PC; otherwise, letters won’t be assigned to drives.

To do that, again open Command Prompt with elevated right and then issues the following command to enter into Diskpart:-


Afterward, check if automount is enabled. For that, execute the following command:-


If you see that automount is disabled, use the following command to allow it to:-

automount enable

Finally, exit Diskpart using the following command:-


Now, you need to restart your computer, and this issue should not exist anymore.

How to Disable ‘Hidden’ and ‘No Default Driver Letter’ Attributes?

If above both methods could not help you troubleshooting USB driver letter issues, do the following:-

Step 1. Open elevated command prompt and issues these commands one by one:-

list disk
select disk 1

Note: If you can’t guess which disk to choose, look at their respective sizes to get a clear idea and then replace ‘1’ with the number associated with your disk.

Use the below command to list all partitions:-

list part

Note: If you have only one internal HDD or SSD installed on your PC, then disk “1” should be an external disk. While more than one internal HDD or SSD is installed on your computer, the external drive should be disk “2.”

That means to select your external disk; the command should be either “select disk 1” or “select disk 2.”

When you recognize the disk, then issue the command, “attributes volume.” If you read the message, “Hidden” and “No Default Drive Letter” attributes are enabled, then issue these commands:-

attributes volume clear NoDefaultDriveLetter
attributes volume clear hidden

Finally, issue the “exit” command and then hit Enter to exit from the disk part. Then restart your computer, and see if the issue is solved.

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