changed drive letters, computer won't boot

Dell Dimension 8400
Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
4 GB RAM at 533
XP Pro SP3
Bios A02

I was attempting to back up my hard drive to an external hard drive. The program (Norton Ghost 14) wasn't recognizing the drive. The Norton tech. helped me determine this was because under Disk Management there were no drive letters next to the drives. It showed a small partition on my primary drive, my primary drive, and my usb connected external hard drive, but none had drive letters next to them. I attempted to change their drive letters. It did something, but the letters still didn't show next to the drives. After this, everything disappeared on my desktop. I then rebooted and couldn't get to the login screen.

Right now, when I start my computer I get the Dell bios revision screen, then the black MS Windows XP screen, and then the blue XP screen. Everything looks normal except that it stops short of the login area.

My guess is that by changing the primary drive letter that my computer now cannot find anything because it appears the C drive is missing.

What I've tried:
-Get in through Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Command Prompt, and Last Known Good
-Contacted Dell tech chat support...they had me do a repair through the recovery console. It didn't fix it.
-I "got in" using the Symantec Norton Ghost 14.0 Recovery Disk. I could see all of my files. I checked the boot.ini file and a few other things and everything appeared correct.
-I "got in" using BartPE to Change the System/Boot Drive Letter in the registry (Microsoft KB article 223188) It didn't work.

My latest thoughts are if I could somehow do a system restore without being able to boot to Safe Mode/Command Prompt, change the Userinit file in the registry (but I don't think this would do it), and/or getting a new hard drive, installing a fresh copy of xp and migrating files off of old hard drive to new one.

Anyone have any ideas?
8 answers Last reply
More about changed drive letters computer boot
  1. try this...
    run CMD or recovery console and type;
    you'll see the command line turn to;
    type "list disk" and then "selecet drive 0" or w/e it is
    type "list part" and then "select part 1" or w/e it is
    type "active" then reboot, You can also try to assign a drive letter from here.
  2. Thank you for your reply.

    In recovery console...when I type "diskpart" at the command prompt it didn't change the command line to DISKPART. It brings up: "The following list shows the existing partitions and unpartitioned space on this computer." In a box below this it shows:
    -: Partition1 [FAT] 55 MB <34 MB free>
    C: Partition2 [NTFS] 152563 MB <17469 MB free>
    Unpartitioned space 8 MB
  3. take your questions over to
    there are more of us willing to help out over there.
  4. Thank you. I will do this.
  5. Solution:

    1. Access system using BartPE bootable CD (created using PE Builder)

    2. Access Restore Points through System Volume Information

    3. Copy System and Software restore points from time when the system booted (I right clicked on each point to see the date and time).

    4. Delete System and Software files in the System32 config file and paste in the restore versions and rename.

    *Note: this is overly simplified. DO NOT USE THIS AS INSTRUCTIONS! If you need to do this, here is the full details and where I got the solution from:

    (I did make a donation :D)
  6. I see this was a while ago, but I noticed in your specs that you have XP Pro with 4 Gigs of ram. Is it 64 bit. As a tech I have seen several computers new and otherwise that have had issues with the 4 gig mark in 32 bit operating systems. It might be part of your problem. I noticed errors in a 6 Month old Dell with Vista. It came from the factory with 4 gigs but a 32 bit OS. It ran fine untill I tried to put in SP1 then it started having startup issues.
    May not be your problem, and by this time I would hope that you have fixed your problem, but for those that find this thread its easy to take out a stick of ram and see if thats your problem.
  7. "I was attempting to back up my hard drive to an external hard drive. The program (Norton Ghost 14) wasn't recognizing the drive. The Norton tech. helped me determine this was because under Disk Management there were no drive letters next to the drives"

    I was having the same/similar problem using Ghost 15 yesterday and saw this posting. In my situation, the drive letters were visible in My Computer, but not present in Disk Management. This caused Ghost backups to fail. In my case, the problem was caused when I restored my drive using Ghost 15. The restore caused the drive letters to disappear. I am sure of this since I had done a print screen of the disk management console before the restore. I called Norton and they tried a few things and then said I needed to call Dell since there was something wrong with my hard drive. I wasn't very happy as you can imagine. I called back the next today and escalated the problem. They determined that it was a Ghost 15 problem triggered by a hidden partition (the Dell Utility partition). They remoted out to my computer and made some registry changes and then everything worked well. They moved too quickly to see exactly what they changed in the registry, but at least know that there is a solution.
  8. When one fiddles with making multi-boot systems and associated bevy of partition managers/ editors one is bound to come to heads with Windows XP's annoying "habit" of remembering drive letters in the registry which are inaccessible to change when you are not in Windows. This applies to all NT operating systems including Windows 2000 and the older Windows NT.

    Until now.

    There is only one utility I am aware of that allows one to change the drive letter of the boot partition. It is called savepart by partition Saving a French site.
    It's main function is to copy partitions but changing the drive letter is what makes it unique.

    Dan Goodells has written an extensive article entitled Fixing Windows 2000/XP Drive Letters. If you have the above problem, you MUST read it.

    Good luck.
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