XP, USB Drives and Mapped Network Drives

For more than a year I’ve been coming across a problem with Windows XP, USB drives and mapped network drives. Each computer here has four mapped network drives, which are assigned the letters F:, G:, H: and I:. When I plug in a USB key Windows tries to assign F:, fails and gives up. Disconnecting the network drive and reinserting the key (or going into device manager and hitting ‘populate’) was the only way to fix it, and this was tiresome. However, it’s one of those problems that you forget about as soon as you’ve solved it.

I finally remembered to look up a solution today, and there isn’t one. The official Microsoft response says that you should use as high letters as possible for mapped network drives. I’ve moved them to W: onwards, and the USB key can now happily use F:.

The problem apparently occurs with all types of removable media, so hopefully somebody will find this useful.