You’ve connected a USB flash drive, heard the familiar Windows sound of connection, yet no drive letter shows up. You then go into Disk Management for Windows and you can see the device and memory, but no drive letter.
What should you do?
Most times this process is automatic and Windows will asign a drive letter to any storage device connected to your PC, whether it be a USB stick or a USB hard drive, or any other mass storage device.
However; in the event a drive letter isn’t assigned there is a very quick way to get your computer back to working the way it should.
- Open Command Prompt as Administrator
(search for CMD and right click to open as Admin)
- Type ‘diskpart’ and hit Enter.
- Once in the DISKPART type automount enable and click Enter.
If the above doesn’t do the trick, another issue may be at hand. Maybe some conflicting registry entries from past USB devices connected to the PC and for this reason the automount was disable, or no longer working properly.
Nexcopy has a registry cleaning tool specifically design for USB devices connected to your computer. This utility is an exe file that does not require installation and does not have spyware, malware or anything else. It’s from a company you may
We’ve seen these terms floating around in forums and How To’s for years when someone is explaining what to do with USB flash drives. I think most people glaze over the definitions of Clean, Erase and Format simply because they believe the terms are interchangeable, or they aren’t planning on doing the task mentioned in the post.
I hope the following information will clear up some terms and definitions so we can all better understand what people are talking about when passing along information about flash drives and the Clean, Erase and Format function.
All of these functions can be performed in your Windows 10 computer, or higher. I will start with the least complicated definition and task, and move along from there.
This function is what 98% of Windows computer operators will use. This is the graphical interface inside Windows when you right click a drive letter and ask the operating system to format the drive. What is this function really doing?
Format is the least complicated of the tasks, and this function is removing the File Allocation Table of the USB and creating a new one. Said a simpler way… this function takes away the list of files sitting on the drive so it then appears blank with no data.
It’s important to note, the files are still on the drive, just not listed in an easy, organized manor which you can see through windows explorer (clicking on the drive letter to see the list of files).
Using the most basic file recovery software tools, like the one we wrote about several months back, you can recover all the files sitting on the drive.
Maybe a picture will help. Looking at the image below you can see the “data” is light grey. Meaning the data is still there, just not easily accessible. This data is what recovery software will look for, find, and list back on your drive. Also notice the boot code of the USB (if you want to load an operating system on your USB stick) isn’t touched either.
You might have questions if a USB flash drive should be formatted as FAT, FAT32, exFAT or NTFS and we did a great post about that a bit earlier as well.
The Clean function is a bit more in-depth than the format function. This function applies directly to the Master Boot Record (MBR) or boot code mentioned just above.
The Clean function will clear out boot code and will remove any partition on the flash drive. The partition of a flash drive is the information which tells a host computer how big the drive is, and if the partition should be bootable in the event you are trying to start the computer from a flash drive.
The Clean function is not accessible through the GUI of Windows, for example you cannot right click on a drive letter and find the Clean function. The Clean function is only accessible through the Windows utility called DiskPart.
The link below is for a zip file which has two batch files to either set the USB write protection, or remove the USB write protection for a Windows 10 computer. This batch file also works for Windows 7 machines.
This solution is ultra-easy and very quick. One click to run the reg edit file and one click to confirm the task. That’s it.
Typically a person will want to lock down the USB ports of a computer to insure a virus doesn’t spread to the computer through a USB device, like a flash drive. The nice thing about this batch file is a very quick and easy way to both lock down your USB ports, and equally easy way to unlock your USB ports.
It’s important to note; do not have a USB flash drive connected to the system when you run either batch file.
For those looking for a bit more detail, the information below is the specific registry edit we are making. Changing the dword to 00000001 sets the device policy for the computer to be write protected. Changing that value back to 00000000 will make the USB ports read/write.
It is also important to understand this USB write protect solution is not specific to the USB stick itself. Nor will this solution work on all Windows machines when you move USB drives from computer to computer. Said another way, this change is PC specific.
If you need USB write protection to be permanent to the device and universal to anything the USB is connected to, you may contact Nexcopy.com and ask for their Lock License drives. This is a solution we have found works very well and is done at the controller level of the USB stick itself. Meaning, the USB is write protected for anything it is connected to. The value of this configuration is no chance for a virus to jump onto the USB stick in the first place. This last solution is really the best solution for universal USB write protection.
Here is a screen shot of the two batch files:
This is happening on Win8 and Windows 10.
When I remove a USB drive and reconnect it, Windows will not assign a drive letter. Clearly this is a problem as every other computer I use assigns a drive letter.
There are three solutions. All of which will work.
1) You can go into Disk Management and select the device and assing a drive letter. This is a manual process and not ideal for each time you plug in a flash drive.
2) Good chance the driver or registry entry for that device is rogue or corrupt. Use this USBScrub tool to remove the registry entry. Chances are this will fix the problem. USBScrub link
3) Use ‘diskpart’ and enable the automount feature.
- Open Command Prompt as Administrator (search for Command Prompt in the Start Menu, right click, Run as Administrator)
- Type ‘diskpart’ and hit Enter.
- Once in the ‘diskpart’ command prompt type ‘automount enable’ and hit Enter.
- Type ‘exit’ and click Enter
For solution number one from above, Disk Management is really the GUI version for diskpart, but a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which has scaled down functions from what all the things diskpart can really do.
Diskpart has 37 commands that you can do very cool things with. The 38th command is
In a battle that is so ancient most no longer consider it an issue, Microsoft has gone away with the safe removal for USB flash drives. The original suggestion by Microsoft was to eliminate data lose if a user removed the drive before properly ejecting it.
Nine out of ten times you wouldn’t lose data, unless a large file was being transferred, but it’s nice to see Microsoft adjust to user habits.
The update which includes this change is Windows 10 v v1809. If you are not sure the Windows version you have, simply right click the Windows icon in the bottom left of your screen and select “System“
From the resultant page, you can view the version of your OS.
If you have found this post, chances are you are trying
to delete and keep the “System Volume Information” folder off your
UPDATE: Thank you to a reader sending in additional information, we now have a solution that is universal to all PCs. You will never get the “There’s a problem with this drive. Scan the drive now to fix it” message. To get this universal fix, scroll to the bottom of this message and look for “Updated Solution.”
I will venture to say, there are probably five reasons
why you are trying to remove this directory (probably more):
- You have a SmartTV or stereo in your car and the device is showing this folder, and often times, is the default start location to resume play, so you want to remove it.
- A binary verification utility is failing and it shows this folder as the source of inconsistency.
- The “Disk needs to be scanned and repaired message” keeps popping up when you remove a drive without using the Eject function from Windows. You are now going crazy and want to stop that message forever.
- A virus software utility is indicating this folder has a potential problem (smart hackers could stick their code in here)
- You are performing some kind of USB duplication process and this folder continues to be a problem, therefore you want to remove it.
Go ahead and skim down this article if you want to get
right to the instructions. For now, I’m
going to take some time to explain what this folder is. Knowledge is power, and maybe the reason for
why it’s there, will deter you from wanting to delete it.
For any disk or storage device connected to Windows will
have the “System Volume Information” folder. This is a hidden system file, so if you don’t
see it, that is the reason why. You can
see this file when you turn on “See Hidden Files” in your view
The System Volume Information folder contains two files. The two files are meant for setting restore points and indexing for what is on the drive. Windows is trying to help you if and when you need to search the device for data.
The two files are the IndexerVolumeGuid and
WPSettings.dat file. The indexer file
assigns a unique identifier (GUID, Global Unique ID) to the drive. The indexing service examines the files so when
you connect the drive to the computer in the future, Windows checks the
identifier and knows which search database to associate with the drive.
WPSettings.dat file is used for Windows Phone’s Storage settings. If you are dealing with a hard drive, this could be a good thing, if dealing with a flash drive, you don’t need it. I haven’t met a person yet who backed up their phone data to a USB stick.
If you are still on the fence about whether you should
remove this folder or not, think about this:
If you are dealing with a hard drive with an operating system, don’t
delete it. If you are dealing with mass storage
drives, like a USB flash drive, you can remove it with little fear something
bad will happen.
So how do you remove this folder?
How do you keep from this folder coming back?
The solution is a two-step process. The first step will be disabling the indexing
and thus, ask Windows not to put the folder on the drive.