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Flash memory card readers connected to your computer often appear in disk management, taking up drive letters even though they're not currently in use.

I purchased your ebook “Maintaining Windows XP”. I was working in the “The Opportunities” section on page 82. When I opened up my Disk Management, I found that I have several disks two through six, also labeled “Removable E through G”, with “no media” associated with them. I'm wondering what to do with them. I have my main disk C as well as one disk associated with my external hard drive labeled "My Book (M:)" and another disk associated with the program “WD SmartWare (L:)”. The layout on all of three is Partition and the Type is Basic. The SmartWare is a program that came with my external drive.

I have drives like those on my machine: drive letters set aside and listed as "no media".

But in my case at least, they're there for a reason and the answer on what to do with them is simple:


Removable drives showing no media in disk management

The clues in the description

"Removable" refers to "removable media." Basically, any kind of disk or disk-like thing that you can insert and remove from your computer.

Floppy disks, once upon a time, were "removable media" because you could pop them out at any time.

"... in general the best thing to do with these unused devices is nothing at all."

CD and DVD drives are similarly removable media devices.

USB drives are technically also removable media, but of course, they're not listed until they're attached. Once a USB drive is attached, its driver is loaded and the drive appears in the appropriate lists.


Drives without media

"No media" is the other clue.

Device drivers are installed when the device or drive is present and attached. So floppy disk drives or CD/DVD drives without media inserted are displayed and take up a drive letter, even if there's no disk inserted.

Somewhere on your machine, you have a device attached that could contain media, but does not.

In my case, it's my monitor. In addition to being a (very nice) display, it also contains a USB hub and media slots for Compact Flash and SD memory cards. When I don't have a CF or SD card inserted, those slots:

  • Take up a drive letter.

  • Show up in disk management.

  • Are listed as having "no media" - because they don't; nothing has been inserted.

I'm guessing that you have something similar.

Media slots

With the proliferation of CF, SD, micro-SD, Sony's old memory sticks, and a bunch of other flash memory card types, media slots that you would use to actually read them on your computer are proliferating as well.

Some examples include:

  • "N-in-one" card readers - These are typically USB devices that you connect to your computer which provide anywhere from one to four or more slots into which you can insert just about any conceivable type of flash memory card. When the device is connected, it appears as some number of separate drives.

  • Convenience devices - I bundle my monitor into this category. Any device that you happen to have for some other purpose that also includes one or more flash memory card slots as a convenience. Monitors might be one common example, but I've seen it on keyboards and other accessories as well.

  • Your computer - Particularly with many newer laptops, you might find that you have one or more memory card slots that you might not even know about. These most commonly appear to be for the SD card, presumably to make transferring photos from digital cameras faster and easier.

While it is possible to remove them from the drive letter allocation pool (just right-click in device manager and change the drive letter), the best thing in general to do with these unused devices is nothing at all.

Some you might actually use, now that you know you have them.

The rest, other than eating up a drive letter and a minuscule amount of memory, are completely benign and don't impact your system in any way.

Article C4877 - July 13, 2011 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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July 13, 2011 3:22 PM

I noticed that also. I suspected that was the case but now I know.

July 19, 2011 8:38 AM

I found several of these and I went into Device Manager and changed the drive letters into U:, V:, W:, X:, Y: and Z: to keep them out of the way in case I wanted to install another HD which would be G:.

July 19, 2011 8:48 AM

I happen to have an HP printer with a card reader slot - it shows up as a drive also.

July 19, 2011 3:36 PM

Windows 7: Enable the "Hide empty drives in the Computer folder" check box in Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Folder Options, and then click OK. (This option doesn’t affect empty floppy disk drives, CD drives, or DVD drives.)


July 20, 2011 6:17 AM

Don't know if there is a simple way to hide them in XP -- it's kind of annoying. In Windows 7, the option 'Hide empty drives in the Computer folder' is checked by default (press Start - type 'fol', press Enter - go to the View tab and the option can be seen there.)

March 22, 2012 7:17 PM

Hi all,
how can i solve this no media in disk error?My card reader is having this problem.When it is plugged its shown as 'please insert a disk'.I tried to change the drive letter.But it doesn't work as there is no media.

November 25, 2012 8:29 PM

hi , I have observed a problem with my windows system.
1.I tried attaching a device , it appears in disklist but not in volume list.
2.If i change the label name , it works fine and gets attached.But the label was working fine for some time and suddenly it stopped.
3. It works fine on linux(on the same system->dual boot).
4.One more interesting thing is no drive letter is assigned by windows(as seen in storage disk management) , and it's contents cannot be accessed. It appears as a removeable disk.

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