HELP! Windows not running off external hard drive

  1. Posts : 1
    Windows 10

    HELP! Windows not running off external hard drive

    I dono if I am posting this in the right bit but if you can help that will be great

    So my laptop runs off my external hard drive which is my (D) so when I log in my desktop open up from it and it was work until today when before I turn my laptop on I put in my USB stick because I was removing stuff off it and putting some stuff on but when I log in my desktop began to run off the USB this is the first time it has done this now my USB is called (D) and my external hard drive is now (E) I unplugged my USB and restart my laptop but when I log in and the desktop opened up it was not off my external hard drive it was giving me a error message saying that the (D) desktop was missing how do I make it run off my external hard drive again and not the USB
      My Computer

  2. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,515
    Windows 10 Pro

    You will have to log in to an account that runs off the normal C: drive (internal hard drive or SSD) and change the drive letter of the external hard drive back to D:.
      My Computer

  3. Try3's Avatar
    Posts : 7,459
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 20H2 Build 19042.928

    Please may I clarify a couple of points.
    1 I think what you mean is that Windows runs off your C:\ drive as normal but you have relocated your Desktop folder to your external drive. Is that correct?
    2 I think that you mean that the USB was connected as you booted. Is that correct?

    This is not a fault but a result of how Windows allocates drive letters as it boots up. It normally sets the OS drive to C:\ first then it sets D:\ to the next one it discovers then E:\ to the next one etc. You can force it to use drive letters of your own choosing.

    If I have understood you correctly then what you need to do is -
    1 Remove the external drive for the time being.
    2 If you are ever going to boot up with the USB stick connected in the future then you now can set it to E:\ or another later letter {except X:\} in Disk management [C:\Windows\System32\diskmgmt.msc]
    3 Reconnect the external drive
    4 Set the external drive back to D:\ in Disk management [C:\Windows\System32\diskmgmt.msc]

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  4. spunk's Avatar
    Posts : 2,842
    Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit 20H2

    You cannot run a Windows OS off of a USB drive, so @Try3 might be on to something about your moved User files.
    Anyways, with both drives plugged in, Press the Win key+X and choose Disk Management.
    Here right click the Flash drive and choose Change Drive Letter or Paths. Change the drive letter to something lower in the alphabet, like S: or even X: it doesn't matter, as long as it is not being used.
    Now Right click the previous D: Drive and change it's drive letter to D: restart the computer. If this doesn't work, you can remove the flash drive and assign the previous D: to D: even if it is already D: that way it won't move.
      My Computer

  5. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,515
    Windows 10 Pro

    Of course, the OP must get logged into the computer first - which is why they need an account that runs off of C: drive on the computer - as a permanent "fall back on" account that can be logged into when his arrangement of having the user profile stored on a removable drive fails.
      My Computer

  6. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,087
    Windows 10 IoT

    spunk said:
    You cannot run a Windows OS off of a USB drive,
    This will sound like nit picking but the official "Windows To Go" will run off of a certified USB thumb drive. You can plug it into pretty well any PC, boot from it, and run the preinstalled Windows from it. Not what the OP is doing, from the sounds of it, but it is doable. Plus there are several unofficial ways of doing it. Just saying. I have done a Windows To Go on a USB connected hard drive. Old clunky slow laptop spinner drive but it works. You need a bit of patience to use it though.

    As others have stated, a drive letter change should fix your issue.
      My Computer


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