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Need a program to change primary drive letter

By Vigilante ยท 13 replies
Dec 16, 2005
  1. This happens (accidentally) sometimes when loading an XP computer. If you happen to have a zip drive or memory card reader plugged in, then during setup XP automatically makes the primary hard drive, a letter AFTER those!

    So in other words, if they have a zip drive and a couple CD-ROMs, XP loads up as drive E: or some such. I've got a PC now with a memory card reader and the main drive loaded as drive I:!
    I really dislike that. XP should always use C: for the hard drive. But anyway, without having to reload the whole dang PC over again and unplug those devices, can I just use a program to change the drive letter and make all needed changes? Or is it better to reload to get my letter to be C:?

    I know Partition Magic has a drive letter changing utility that you can use when you merge partitions and such. But I'm not sure if any utility can change the system partition drive letter.
    I really don't feel like reloading this monster of a machine again.


    P.S. And free is always good, if such a utility exists :)
  2. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    Is it faur to assume that the computer managment disk management snap-in can't do this?

    I don't know about a utility for this, but the following page may help, or not perhaps... http://www.petri.co.il/change_system_drive_letter_in_windows_xp.htm

    I say it may not help, because icrosoft say this about changing the system drive letter...

    Failing all of the above, would the fixboot, bootcfg, or fixmbr commands from the recovery console allow you to fix it?
  3. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    The snap-in says it cannot change the letter of the system or boot partition.
    It can change letters of other drives.
  4. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    Sorry Vigilante - I was editing as you were replying. That doesn't suprise me about the disk management snap in, but I thought it best to ask anyway. Have added a couple more suggestions to my previous reply.
  5. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    oh, I didn't see the two links you posted, weird.

    Ya this is a fresh reload so the letter didn't change by accident. It loaded to drive I: from the get-go due to XP assigning C,D,E,F,G,H to other drives before taking an HDD letter. So those wouldn't work.
    Reason being that the letter I: has already been propogated to every program installed and through the registry and file system.

    Partition Magic goes about to search the system through and through and change every single reference to a drive letter and change it. But only when merging partitions.

    I'm thinking there is no "safe" way to do this. I am reloading. But if anybody finds a program to do this, I'm all ears.
  6. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

  7. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    The link doesn't work, but I don't like it anyway. I tend not to go to links that use IPs instead of domain names :)
  8. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

  9. This might help you, then again mabye not....

  10. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    Ya, that still applies only if XP was "originally" loaded to one drive letter, then somehow changed.
    Unfortunately, XP was loaded from the get-go on drive I:. So this being the boot and system partition, I guess there is no real way to change it.

    Anyhow, I couldn't wait very long so I reloaded it again after unplugging the memory card reader and got my drive C: back. But I'm still all ears if someone finds a proggy to do this successfully.
  11. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11


    The system partition isn't recognised by a letter. It's in boot.ini and in registry, named like multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1), for example.
  12. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    Well for the sake of "most" people who are used to having it that way. It's just standard. I wouldn't want my floppy as drive F:. And believe me, the few random people who have had this problem, hate it, they want the main drive as C:. Doesn't even matter if other drives and partitions are other letters, the main drive must be C:.

    The BIOS reserves A: and B: for floppies. Why not C: for the first hard drive?
    Plus that it makes it easy to troubleshoot systems, instead of having to sit there and figure out what letter their system partition is on, you can just sit down and type C:.

    People like their traditions, and C: is a tradition.
  13. ged8x

    ged8x TS Rookie

    changing system drive letter

    hi, ive got the same problem. just wondering if you managed to change your drive letter. i know it was a while ago. partition magic 8 lets you do it but it warns you that there might be booting problems if you do. just thought id check out possible problems before i click yes. and yes it is annoying not to have it as "c" especially when everyone tells you either not to do it or asks why dont you just leave it as it is. remember the SAS motto "who dares wins" (or cant boot pc).

    ps i know very little about computers. they are like women expensive, time consuming and very reluctant to do any ironing.
    youve got to let them know whos boss. it might only be a drive letter but it goes way deeper than that. if you start accepting the drive letters they assign you who knows where it will lead. take control before its to late.

  14. DemonicFly

    DemonicFly TS Rookie

    Try THIS!

    Partition Magic 8.0 to change drive letter. (Chances are, system will not boot completly into Windows after this. So may need to backup data). Run a windows repair installation to get system booting into Windows again. Worked like a champ for me!!!!!! Good Luck. :)
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