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How do you change drive letters?

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February 19, 2006 10:20:07 PM

My daughter has a Dell 4300 and needed another hard drive. I installed the second drive as the master and changed the old drive to slave. I installed XP on the new drive but when I boot the PC, it still has the old drive as the C drive and it named the new drive E. I want to change it around. How do I do that? I wasn't able to find anything in the device manager.

More about : change drive letters

February 19, 2006 10:46:24 PM

It may not be worth the trouble that it MIGHT cause.
Any software that you have installed on the 'E' drive may have that drive letter hard coded into the Registry or other files that it will use to run.
With that as a 'be carefull what you wish for'
From Control panel
Administrative Tools
Computer Management
Storage
Disk Management
February 19, 2006 11:01:03 PM

Hi!

There are a few ways to do it; but firstly:

Have you formatted the original drive? If you maintained the OS in it, you may have probs...

1. Start with only the new drive installed (the one with the OS); slave drive disconnected; see if it assumes the letter "C";

2. If step 1. true, then install slave drive (see if it assumes letter "D");

3. If steps 1. & 2. fail, try this: Go to "Administrative Tools/Computer Management/Disk Management": right-click on slave drive & select "Change Drive Letter and Paths": Choose a non-assigned letter to the slave drive (assuming one of your optical drives already has the letter "D" assigned); a message might display, warning you of the danger, if you proceed; ignore it & press OK;

4. If everything's fine, do the same to the master drive, assigning it letter "C".


Hope this helps.


Cheers!
Related resources
February 19, 2006 11:04:44 PM

I haven't tried reformatting with the slave drive disconnected, but I did try changing the drive letters through Disk Management. It will allow me to change the slave drive, but when I try to change the Boot drive it tells me it won't allow me to do that because it's a boot drive.
February 20, 2006 12:25:32 AM

Have you already tried step 1.?

And, if it's a very recent OS install (meaning you haven't installed other software...), the best to do is... reformatt & reinstall the OS in the new drive... without the slave drive connected.


Cheers!
February 20, 2006 12:48:04 AM

joset's suggestions are better than mine
February 20, 2006 1:38:52 AM

That's what I'll try next.
February 20, 2006 5:25:44 AM

Don't do that!

Clone the old drive onto the new with a product like Acronis True Image. Their directions are easy to follow. For that process, you Slave the new to the old.

When you finish the imaging, temporarily disconnect the new.

Kill the partition on the old by booting with a 98 boot floppy, and using fdisk. Then, Slave it to the new drive (make sure the jumpers are perfect - New one is Master; old one is Slave), boot up with the new "C" drive; go to Disk Management, recreate a partition and reformat the old. It will become the "D" drive to be used as storage (and whatever).
February 20, 2006 8:04:17 AM

I wasn't familiar with Acronis.
I'm not 100% sure if he should use the 'clone' part as it isn't clear if the original drive had XP on it.
February 20, 2006 10:43:18 AM

Right! With "Acronis" or "Norton" or whatever...

But, what about without it?


I still think it's the best to be done: format both drives & do a fresh install, on the new one, IF possible (i.e., if any backup can be made into CDs/DVDs or any storage medium available.).


Cheers!
February 20, 2006 11:44:09 AM

When I upgrade to replace a working, not totally screwed up by virus/spyware hdd, the steps I take.
Disconect old drive, connect new drive, format/patition new drive durring xp install, load all software, get machine nice and stable with all updates etc, connect old drive - copy data that I want, format it.
If I have room in the case for both drives, it stays, if not it goes.
February 20, 2006 11:55:32 AM

I have Acronis, but here's the problem with cloning the old drive. The reason we are installing a new drive is the old drive won't boot anymore. I want to get the new drive up and running and then get files off of the old drive. At that point I'll reformat the old drive and see if it's still good for anything. So, I think it would probably be best to just disconnect the old drive and reformat and install the OS on the new drive. I'm hoping then the system will assign the letter C to the new drive.
February 20, 2006 2:14:42 PM

With the 'old' drive disconnected from the system, you will have only 1 hard drive - it gets the letter C:.
Sorry to hear the old drive won't boot - chances are 50/50 on data recovery, best of luck.
February 20, 2006 3:03:50 PM

Master Slave settings are irrelevant.

Durring an install of XP, setup will keep drive letter assignements for existing partitions it sees, then give the system the next available letter. There was already a C and D so you got E

Thats illrelevant because you NEVER install XP with more than one drive connected.

If the is more than one C: partition, the one the OS boots from gets the C: letter.
February 20, 2006 3:53:34 PM

That may be, but MINE gave the boot drive E.
February 20, 2006 5:36:34 PM

(Sorry for the delay...)

I assume you're using IDE (not SATA) drives (the later don't have the MASTER/Slave issue):

- First off, create partition/format new drive (if you have a Win95/98 boot disk, use it: takes longer but is more "transparent" & gives you a bit more of experience); Commnds: "FDISK"; "FORMAT", when asked.

- Now, you have a drive with the letter "C". Install OS.

- When everthing's OK, connect old drive & boot.

- If the old drive's OK, refer to my first post, step 3., and choose "Format" instead.


Cheers!
February 20, 2006 6:05:55 PM

I think you're screwed. You have to reinstall XP. WHat you have to do is when you are selecting the partition to install to check to make sure that it is recognizing the new drive. WHat happens is that the new drive has no partitions, but the old drive has an active partition so it will be recognized as the only available partition. You would have to create new partitions during Setup and then install to the first one.
February 20, 2006 7:16:48 PM

Why don't you tell us about the old problematic drive?

Is it recognized both in the BIOS and the POST messages?

What can you tell us about the non-booting problem? Any messages?

Were you running XP? What flavor?

We may be able to fix this drives' boot issue if it's still a viable drive. Then, for sure you'll be able to recover data from it.
February 20, 2006 7:28:13 PM

You forgot to set the drive to "active". And formating that way will force you to chose FAT32 which is a bad choice.

---
The only think you need to do is make sure that the drive you are installing on is the only drive in the system. You can create a NTFS partition while installing windows.

When moving windows using imaging software you have to watch out for the following problem. You connect the new drive, create a partition and format it giveing it a drive letter, lets say X, now the OS stores the ID of the drive and associates with the letter X.

You use True Image and move the OS to the new drive. You boot and now your OS is on X: and your old OS is on C: Because the registry has an entry that assigns X: to the new drive's partition.

Solution. Remove the drive letter for the new drive before doing the transfer.

Now if you boot to the new drive it will be C:. You can also boot to the old drive by changing the BOOT order in the bios and it will still be C: as well.

Both will stay C: when you boot from them, while the other will be given a different letter when it isn't the boot drive.
February 20, 2006 9:43:23 PM

Quote:
You forgot to set the drive to "active". And formating that way will force you to chose FAT32 which is a bad choice.

---
The only think you need to do is make sure that the drive you are installing on is the only drive in the system.You can create a NTFS partition while installing windows.[/quote]

True. 3rd step (after formatting, right-clik again & set "Old Drive" to "Active").
As for the second remark, I guess you solved that issue in your own answer (i.e., Windows gives you the option to convert the partition to NTFS, during install.).

Actually, I wouldn't use any third-party software, at this point; IF anything goes wrong (there's a probability...), it will complicate matters further. So, despite specific software exists to make these things simpler, I think that using more than the strictly necessary will only complicate. Unless, of course, someone dares to post every single step one must take, in order to avoid any mistakes.
Moreover, when issues like this surface, good old DOS (unfortunately?) is still helpful.


Cheers!
February 20, 2006 9:54:08 PM

Good old DOS can be very helpfull - untill it runs into an NTFS partion, or a drive that's physically beyond its grasp :) 
February 20, 2006 11:14:54 PM

Correct.

If the OS has already been installed (WinXP?), in NTFS and the drive is bigger than ~137GB, than it must be re-formatted using the OS (WinXP?) boot CD.

Thanks for having pointed out these - elementary! - littleissues! :!:

If none of the above, do proceed with a Win98 boot disk (Warpspasm?)
February 21, 2006 7:41:25 PM

This is getting to be a bigger pain in the butt all the time.

I disconnected the old drive tor reinstall XP on the new one and now the PC won't boot at all. If I hook it back up with the new drive the PC boots the new drive. I went into BIOS and when the old drive is disconnected all the primary drives show as UNKNOWN. Heck, it doesn't even see the CD drive! Hook that old drive up and bingo, they're back. I even went into BIOS and turned off the Primary 1 drive (which I think is the old drive) and it still shows up if I leave it connected. What gives????
February 21, 2006 8:29:18 PM

Hi!


What's your new drive specs (size, brand, interface...)?

Have you used WinXP install CD to create the drive's partition?

If it's an IDE drive, did you set it to Master?

Dont't forget to install Intel's drivers (come with the MB CD, IF it's an Intel chipset);

Used any third-party software?

Have you had any issues, while installing WinXP?
February 21, 2006 8:38:10 PM

The old drive is a WD 40 and the new one is a WD 80. I've already installed XP on the new drive, but since I had the old drive connected it labeled the new drive E instead of C. That's what this whole problem revolves around. Yes the new drive is set to master. I just can't figure out why the old drive has to be connected to get the PC to work.
February 21, 2006 9:00:25 PM

Let's forget about the old drive, for now.

If the PC is an old one, you must go into the BIOS and make it recognize the new drive (something like "IDE HDD AUTO DETECTION", depending upon the BIOS);

Also, and assuming everything went fine, during WinXP installation, you must upgrade the BIOS (go to MB manufacturer's website), if it's an old PC (late 1990's);

Which OS have you in your old drive?

What kind of error (if any) do you get when you try to boot with the new drive? Do you still have access to the BIOS?

(Be as specific as you can.)
February 21, 2006 9:10:46 PM

Several possibilities.
Cables from the motherboard to the Disk drives - IF the DRIVE is JUMPERED as CS (Cable Select) and you connect the cable end thats 'slave', you won't be able to use it as a boot drive IF some other device (like a cd is on as primary) I know there was a post early on about Master and Slave not being important - I, humbly, disagree.
The othere issue your going to have is its a DELL - and they spec there hardware very carefully.
Take your time with this process - it will tell you what end of what cable means what.
Unplug the cd
Make SURE the NEW DRIVE is set to MASTER
Plug one of the cables to the drive, use the 'end' connector - not the 'middle'
Boot the machine
go to BIOS
WHERE DOES THE DRIVE SHOW UP?
CHANNEL 1 or CHANNEL 2 - they each can have 2 devices on them.
When you get the DISK on PRIMARY on CHANNEL 1, you can connect the CD to the other cable.
At this point you should be able to boot from an XP disk - (sigh) unless its a DELL CD for your EXACT make/MODEL of machine - in which case it might not work. DELL's OEM contracts with Microsoft provide them with XP at a very very low price. It may not see the drive because its been crippled by dell, I'm sure others will have information for you - hopefully facts, not rants.
Ah - the things we do for our kids :) 
February 21, 2006 11:42:19 PM

I made sure the drives were jumpered properly and made sure the new drive is at the end of the cable (just to be sure). In BIOS the new drive shows up as Primary 0 and the old drive as Primary 1. The CD drive shows as Secondary 0. There is no Secondary 1. As soon as I disconnect the old drive all the drives show up in BIOS as unknown. The only options in the settings is either Auto or Off.

Weird, huh?
February 22, 2006 12:10:54 AM

You know. . . this thing is starting to tick me off. Do I REALLY need to have the boot drive labeled as the C drive? Why can't I just leave it as E?
February 22, 2006 12:31:48 AM

If the letters really don't matter, uh what was the question?
Is you windows XP CD a Microsoft product or Dell?
If the machine is working - leave it alone.
Dell does provide on-line support from their web site. You register with your Service Tag and they will show you all the updates that they have for the machine, its possible there are BIOS updates, I always apply those to the Dells that folks ask me to work on. Other updates - well it depends on the circumstances.
February 22, 2006 12:35:48 AM

The question is, will having the boot drive labeled something other than C create problems further down the road?
February 22, 2006 1:17:27 AM

NO.
Since you did a comlete install on the 'new' drive:
You can NOT use software installed on the old drive.
February 22, 2006 1:37:02 AM

You may be past this already, but if you are trying to install XP on your new drive with a Dell disc, you need to turn OFF the Plug n Play (PnP) Operating System in BIOS. At least this is what I had to do with my old Dell.
February 22, 2006 1:48:54 AM

you can try to change your hard drive boot order( i don't mean floppy, hard drive, cdrom) i mean your 2 hard drives order, that may not be possibilty with your machine though. i hope that makes since.
February 22, 2006 10:36:05 AM

Believe it or not, there is no mention of PnP in the BIOS. Crap, I thought might do it after I read your post.
February 22, 2006 11:58:26 AM

This hardly makes any sense al all.

My experience tells me that these [simple?] things take time and, most of the issues arise because we forgot to do this or that...

I think you should start from scratch (again):

Go into BIOS & set "Load BIOS defaults";

Use the old drive to access the internet & dl the latest BIOS upgrade;

Disconnect every optical drive & the old drive, of course;

Re-format the new one & reinstall Win XP; See if it works fine;

Then, post any error messages, if any.

(Although not exactly THE SOLUTION, you might get some help in this thread,
http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=50009562&f=77909774&m=1400925745
or take the time to find some older threads here, in the THG forum, if things get too complicated...)


Cheers!
February 22, 2006 12:26:54 PM

>> This hardly makes any sense al all.

Yeah, tell me about it! :) 

Anyway, I went onto the Dell site and posted the problem in their forum and just got a response. I was told that in Dell system you MUST have the drives both set to Cable Select for them to be recognized. Apparently, Master and Slave don't cut it. I'm at work now, so I can't try it out. I'll get back with my results later today.
February 22, 2006 12:49:58 PM

Quote:
This is getting to be a bigger pain in the butt all the time.

I disconnected the old drive tor reinstall XP on the new one and now the PC won't boot at all. If I hook it back up with the new drive the PC boots the new drive. I went into BIOS and when the old drive is disconnected all the primary drives show as UNKNOWN. Heck, it doesn't even see the CD drive! Hook that old drive up and bingo, they're back. I even went into BIOS and turned off the Primary 1 drive (which I think is the old drive) and it still shows up if I leave it connected. What gives????


I disconnected the old drive tor reinstall XP on the new one and now the PC won't boot at all. If I hook it back up with the new drive the PC boots the new drive. I went into BIOS and when the old drive is disconnected all the primary drives show as UNKNOWN. Heck, it doesn't even see the CD drive! Hook that old drive up and bingo, they're back. I even went into BIOS and turned off the Primary 1 drive (which I think is the old drive) and it still shows up if I leave it connected. What gives????[/quote]

First, some drives now have 3 jumper settings, Master, Slave, and a 3rd one if it is the only drive so make sure that you have the correct jumper settings on the new drive as the only dirve. Secondly, once you do this, you should be able to run a WD floppy that will format the new drive. 3rd, I'd reset the BIOS to the default settings. Hopefully, the drives will be recognized and you can do a clean install of the OS. Someone mentioned about about programs having problems running after changing drive letters. I believe this most often happens when you change the CD/DVD drive letter used to install a program, especially when updates require the original installation disk, e.g., Office 2000. Since you probably can't do it until after Windows is installed, the first thing I'd do before anything else would be to change you CD/DVD drive letter to a higher level, e.g., I have mine set M and N but I have 3 drives and a bunch of partitions. What happens is that if you install an additional dirve or partition it will take the next letter, e.g., if your hard drive is C, cd/dvd drive is J, , then if you put in the 2nd hard drive it should show as E, i.e., you CD drive letter shouldn't be affected. Once you get Windows installed and re-install the old drive, during bootup you should manually set to boot from the C drive. Copy any data from the old drive and then format the old one.
February 22, 2006 4:24:08 PM

Never worked with a Dell before but... now, this is too much! "Cable Select" only works IF you've got a single IDE drive! Maybe it works with Dell (I definitely doubt it!). Anyway, tell us after...

Good luck!


Cheers!
February 22, 2006 4:36:50 PM

Quote:
Never worked with a Dell before but... now, this is too much! "Cable Select" only works IF you've got a single IDE drive! Maybe it works with Dell (I definitely doubt it!). Anyway, tell us after...

Good luck!


Cheers!


I've had 3 Dells, one PII and 2 PIIs, and all had to be set to Master and Slave if more than one drive. No personal experience with the newer ones, thank goodness. Amazingly, all 3 are still running.
February 22, 2006 6:55:06 PM

Yep, that did it! All I had to do was put them both on cable select. First I did the new one by itself and reinstalled XP, then I hooked up the old drive. All seems to be good.

Go figure.
February 22, 2006 7:53:36 PM

Quote:
Yep, that did it! All I had to do was put them both on cable select. First I did the new one by itself and reinstalled XP, then I hooked up the old drive. All seems to be good.

Go figure.


Are they both on Cable Select now or did you have to switch back to Master Slave?
February 22, 2006 9:24:05 PM

Here is your problem summed up, because I don't think anyone else really got all the points.

1. XP does preserve drive letters from previous installs, thats why you had the original problem of the boot drive being called E: The only way to fix that is to reinstall with only one drive attached, which will get C:, and you can then reattach old drives which will be lettered in sequence after that.

2. WD is weird with their jumper settings. If you set a drive to Master, then it expects there to be a slave drive, period. Remove the jumper completely to put the drive in Single drive mode (still a master, but without a slave.. ya follow?) This is why it would not pass the Bios for you. I don't use Cable Select settings, but I guess that works too.

Just a quirk about WD IDE drives, they all behave like this. Something that is frustrating because Master just means Master with any other drive manufacturer. They are good drives, once you know how to work with them.
February 22, 2006 9:52:25 PM

Quote:
Here is your problem summed up, because I don't think anyone else really got all the points.

1. XP does preserve drive letters from previous installs, thats why you had the original problem of the boot drive being called E: The only way to fix that is to reinstall with only one drive attached, which will get C:, and you can then reattach old drives which will be lettered in sequence after that.

2. WD is weird with their jumper settings. If you set a drive to Master, then it expects there to be a slave drive, period. Remove the jumper completely to put the drive in Single drive mode (still a master, but without a slave.. ya follow?) This is why it would not pass the Bios for you. I don't use Cable Select settings, but I guess that works too.

Just a quirk about WD IDE drives, they all behave like this. Something that is frustrating because Master just means Master with any other drive manufacturer. They are good drives, once you know how to work with them.


I've run into the problem of a WD not being recognized, I think the last time it was when I replaced the slave with a SATA. Have had a lot of WDs over the years.
February 22, 2006 9:55:02 PM

Well, it seems you didn't go through all the posts or misread some...

As for WD, I do have three, which I installed as I bought them. And no, no such issues as "Cable Select" nor "jumperless" issues, from the first one (single drive set to Master).

Maybe it depends on the series, though I doubt it.

Nevertheless, never "Cable Select" with more than one drive... except DELL!

Anyway, I'm glad Warspasm got it up & running.


Cheers!
!