|Windows assigns drive letters to data partitions on removable drives - e.g. external hard drives, USB flash drives, according to which drive letters were available when the drive was plugged in - it assigns the first available drive letter alphabetically. |
That's not necessarily the same drive letter every time you plug in the removable drive.
If the shortcut for the external drive is for when it was using a different drive letter previously, the shortcut cannot work.
Therefore, shortcuts to a data partition on external hard drives or USB flash drives can be useless after the drive has been unplugged and plugged back in.
(DO NOT unplug the drive while Windows is running until AFTER you have clicked on the Safely Remove icon in your taskbar and have chosen to STOP accessing it..
See response 2 regarding how you use Safely Remove Hardware:
RIGHT click on the shortcut for the external hard drive - select Properties - note the drive letter.
Look in Computer or Windows Explorer to see what drive letter has been presently assigned to the removable drive.
If the drive letter is different, the shortcut to the drive is presently useless.
If the drive letter is the same as seen when you RIGHT click on the shortcut for the external hard drive, or if there is no drive letter for the removable drive showing up in Computer or Windows Explorer, then you have a different problem.