Thursday, September 15, 2022

Windows 11 (Virtual Drive service) eating up a drive letter

Windows 11.

Sometimes Windows 11 spontaneously gobbles up a drive letter, especially after adding an additional drive to your machine. There's no obvious way to recover that drive letter.

It turns out it's the virtual drive service that spontaneously decides to stop working, but only so after stealing your drive letter.

Another drive failure

I suffered from an (almost) hard disk crash (another old Seagate Barracuda 2TB drive that fails, this is number 3 I think, one more to go) which I accidentally prevented by running Argus Monitor for controlling the fans in my PC.

Argus Monitor

I recently installed a hand-me-down Ryzen 5 3600 in this machine (see here) which was a success, except for the fan noise. The whining got so on my nerves that I bought Argus Monitor to control the fans. I could have opted for a hardware controller but a. I was in a hurry, and b. I was in a hurry 😁 Besides, it's hard to find an affordable hardware solution.

Argus Monitor also includes a Smart monitor component, and whilst playing with that I discovered one of my Seagate drives was about to give up on me. (This is number 3 of 4. So one more left to die.)

Swapping the drive, and the drive letter is gone

I replaced the failing 2TB ST2000 with a new 4 TB Skyhawk drive (no SMR drives for me as long as I can find CMR drives). When booting up Windows the system popped up a very short 'runtime error' (which auto-disappeared) and had allocated the drive letter E to some unknown and invisible device.

It turns out the Virtual Drive service can sometimes lock up, or even completely disable itself. If that happens you have to set it to 'Automatically Restart' and reboot your machine. Now you can assign the missing letter to your (new / replacement) harddrive.


1. Hit the Windows key

2. Enter services.msc

3. Look for Virtual Drive

4. Set it to 'Startup Type - Automatic'

5. Reboot your machine

6. Now you can use Drive Management to reassign the proper letter to each drive

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