How do I force Windows to assign a drive letter to an external hard drive when attached?

Here is the question I received via email.

"I often recieve external hard drives containing large amounts (10-500+gb)of data from vendors.  Each time I connect the drive, Windows assigns it to my G: drive which is currently mapped by GP to a network location.  Is there a registry edit I can make to force Windows to assign a drive letter, say Z:, to external drives when they are attached?"

I never really thought about what drive letter I was assigned when I plugged in an external hard drive but wondered how I could assign the drive letter of my choice. Here is how I figured out how to accomplish this task in Windows Vista.

Every time I attach a drive (Figure A) in Windows Vista, it assigns drive letter E. No matter how many times, I disconnect or reboot, it always assigns drive letter E.

Figure A.

In order to get the drive to use a different drive letter, you must go into Disk Management by typing Computer Management in the instant search field of Windows Vista (Figure B).

Figure B.

Next, click Disk Management and right-click on the disk in question and choose Change drive letter and paths (Figure C).

Figure C.

Click Change and assign the new drive letter. Now each time you connect an external drive, it will be given the drive you have chosen (Figure D).

Figure D.