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XP won't assign a drive letter

By Chase32 ยท 32 replies
Feb 18, 2007
  1. Solved - XP won't assign a drive letter


    I just put together a new P4 system runnning Windows XP and tried to add my old HD (Maxtor 80GB) to it. It is jumpered properly as a slave and is recognized by the BIOS. It does not appear in My Computer, however, it is listed in Device Manager. I've tried removing it from Device Manager and reinstalling it with no success.

    Under Disk Management, it is displayed as Disk 1 and has a Healthy, Active Partition but just a blank space under Volume. I can't assign it a letter because the 'Change Drive Letter and Paths" option is grayed out when I Right Click on it.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I played around with Microsoft's diskpart.exe to try and manually do it, but I don't know how to use it very well and the command line interface isn't very helpful.

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. Rick

    Rick TS Evangelist Posts: 4,512   +65

    Try this thread:

    As far as how to the use the diskpart utility, perhaps this section of the thread will be of use:
  3. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Still not showing...

    Rick, thanks for the reply. The drive I'm having problems with is not a USB drive, it's an internal HD, so some of the things didn't apply in that link, but I downloaded a third party disk manager (Drive Manager 3.3 by Alex Nolan) and it did not recognize the drive that I'm having problems with at all.

    I did some reading on diskpart.exe but still no luck. There's no volume for it, so I can't assign it a letter without that, I guess.

    I did make sure 'D:' was available by changing my Zip drive to G:

    In drivepart.exe, List Disk shows:

    Disk ###  Status       Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
    ---------  ----------  ------  ------  ---   ---
    Disk 0     Online        37GB       0 B 
    Disk 1     Online        75GB       0 B 
    (Kind of confused about the '0 B Free' thing, but shows correctly in Disk Manager)
    List Volume shows:
    Volume ###  Ltr  Label            Fs     Type         Size     Status     Info    
    ------------  --- -------------   -----  -------     -------  --------  -------
    Volume 0       E  050910_0753     CFDS  DVD-ROM      163 MB   
    Volume 1       C                  NTFS  Partition       37 GB  Healthy   System
    Volume 2       H                        Removable     0 B
    The only other thing I can think of is doing a Repair Installation of Windows XP, which I'll try as soon as I get my Windows CD back from a friend.

  4. mikescorpio81

    mikescorpio81 TS Rookie Posts: 292

    Under disk management, do you get an option to "Initialize" the disk? Normally when you add a foreign disk you must initialize the disk through disk management before you can use it, but seeing as though your disk says Active or Healthy, I think we have a problem ...
  5. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    No, no option to Initialize. The only thing that isn't grayed out when it is Right Clicked in Disk Management is "Delete Partition" which obviously isn't a great choice. :)

    I tried disconnecting it, booting without it, then rebooting with it to see if any Initialize came up then, but it didn't.

  6. mikescorpio81

    mikescorpio81 TS Rookie Posts: 292

    You could try and set the jumpers to cable select instead of slave, but im not sure it will help. There are a few posts within this forum along the lines of the problem you have, but no real concrete fix.
    Im sure that if you go ahead and delete the partition, the format to follow will allow you to select a drive letter for it, but you will lose your data.
    Have you tried it on another PC? Was this HDD the primary HDD before (your old C: perhaps)?
  7. Rick

    Rick TS Evangelist Posts: 4,512   +65

    This is a good thought. A 'foreign' disk would imply the volume is dynamic though, which would be an odd setup for most people. Initializing a disk destroys the data on it, so this is definitely not an option. 'Importing' the disk would be ideal if your 80GB turns out to be a dynamic volume.

    Diskpart claims the volumes are not dynamic and taken at face value, this would mean the drive is just a regular . However, if you're using Windows XP Home, it may ignore dynamic disk status... as seen here. Of course, your previous computer would need to have Windows XP Professional. Just thinking out loud.

    This is shadow stabbing, but what happens when you run chkdsk C: /f on the drive from Start > Run > cmd , choose 'Y" to perform a disk check on startup and restart the computer?
  8. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,842   +193

    Redo the system, XP not seeing the drive order. I would either replace that 37GB it could be causing your problem with the system. Only takes one HDD to knock out the others.
  9. mikescorpio81

    mikescorpio81 TS Rookie Posts: 292

    Initializing a disk does not destroy data btw, when you add a foreign (or new) disk into your PC without updating MBR's, the disk will not appear in My Computer, but will show up in Disk Management. You then initialize it and Windows assigns it a drive letter. I have done this many times, normally with my external HDD's.

    If Windows is not assigning the drive a letter and/or is not showing up in My Computer, usually initializing is what you must first do, or you sometimes get this problem if the next available letter is a network drive and Windows tries to assign it the same letter, but cannot.
  10. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,168   +7

    This should not happen

    When i installed my new Sata 2 i removed my 2 IDE's and 2 Optical drives.
    After i installed XP i connected the IDE's as slaves 1 at a time to copy to my 3 partitioned Sata.They where instantly recognized and became
    D and E .
    I removed the 2 IDE's and connected the
    dvd's as Primary master and slave.
    They showed up in My computer as F an G.
    Now i have C D E HD's and F and G as DVD player and burner.
    Is your situation similar in any way to start over with only adding 1 at a time ?
  11. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 921   +11

    would just like to agree I have done this many times and have yet too lose anything.
  12. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I'm going to try and take it to a friends and put in in his system, but I don't have another one here. It was an old c:' and primary off another system.

    zipperman, I have assigned my ZIP drive and DVD burner to G: and H: to give a few other options to XP but still no luck. I will try disconnecting the two and see if anything happens.

    Rick, I tried running CHKDSK on startup, but it only checks my new HD (C) not any older ones.

    Thanks, for the advice. Maxtor tech support is stumped also.
  13. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,168   +7

    Swtching drives

    You missed my point,Remove anyone of same type and connect it there and properly set jumpers.At least i know it works for IDE's.My friend took mine home,copied my music and brought it back.
    It should be usuable to get your files from it.
    Then put back the one you removed.
    XP Works well with recognizeing drives and has the drivers.
  14. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I can't get access to the drive at all. I've tried jumpering it in Master, Slave, and CS. If I try to boot to it as Master without the other drive there, windows just restarts the computer, even trying to boot to safe mode and safe mode with command prompt.

    I ran windows setup and tried to access it through the recovery console, but I can't remember the admin password! ( I was going to try and do a repair on it with chkdsk.) It's been 2 years since I've used that HD and you only get 3 attempts before it reboots and takes forever to load again.

    I did run Partition Table Doctor, it said I needed to run their 'Fixboot' utitlity. I ran that, and it wasn't successful and wanted me to use their Advanced Recovery Wizard for $100.

    If Partition Table Dr. can't fix it, I doubt Chkdsk can, so I haven't tried to get that password, but maybe I'll do that again since I'm running out of options.

    Thanks everyone!
  15. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,168   +7

    Was i confussing

    You install only the new drive and install Windows.You don't remove it.
    Sorry if i implied that.
    Then add the older HD as Primary slave to copy or move files to the new one.
    But also adding a cd-rom as secondary cable in case you need Windows CD should be ok.
    You have to have Windows Operating.My Computer should have C and D.HD
    E as cd-rom.
    This should work unless the HD is shot.It wasn't before you bought the new one as far as i can tell/
  16. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,009

    have you tried
    right click see if properties lets you go to security and take possession of the drive.
    don't need a volume label to fix or change anything on the drive
  17. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    That's how I started - windows was freshly installed on the first drive, then I tried adding the other one. You think doing it again would make a difference? The old HD did work fine in my other computer, unless something happened to it very recently, it should work.


    The only options I have when Right Clicking on it in Disk Manager is "Delete Partition"

    I did get into Windows recovery console and accessed the disk. All the stuff is there. I ran CHKDSK, but the only options you have are /R and /P. Ran them both and it did find unspecified problems. I then ran FIXMBR and FIXBOOT and it supposedly installed a new MBR. I ran CHKDSK /R and it didn't find any more problems. All that and still no luck.
  18. Rick

    Rick TS Evangelist Posts: 4,512   +65

    This is true, thank you for correcting me. 'Initializing' a disk in other environments often deletes the data (Mac and RAID controllers, for example). Windows does not delete your data... It updates part of the MBR (Disk signature).

    Initilizing your disk is still only used for 'Dynamic Disks' though, which isn't really useful (or often used) to/by most people.
  19. Rick

    Rick TS Evangelist Posts: 4,512   +65

    Even if you specify the drive letter? Such as... chkdsk D: /f or chkdsk E: /f and so on....
  20. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,168   +7

    No i guess

    But i didn't know how you did it the first time.
    I can only relate what worked for me.If it's not clear please ask for
    more details.
    I only use chkdsk from My Computer,Drive letter/right click/propertys.
  21. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,009

    I had to use a 3rd party disk manager on one update
    wierd hard drive behavior
    xp would not add a letter but acronis did
    after 2 attempts from a must boot command
  22. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I can't specify the drive letter on chkdsk (run from XP) because Windows doesn't recognize the drive. So CHKDSK D: /F or CHKDSK E: /F (the next 2 free letters) won't work.

    I tried Knoppix but it doesn't like NTFS partitions.
  23. mikescorpio81

    mikescorpio81 TS Rookie Posts: 292

    Im not sure if this will help, but with my external HDD (which is a 2.5'') it sometimes requires more power. I have the nornal USB 2.0 cable and another one that plugs into a DC port on the front of the HDD. If I can't see my drive in My Computer but I can in Disk Management, I plug the DC USB adapter in also and it seems to come up.

    Probably won't help you, but it's still good to know! :grinthumb

    Also, How did you go with plugging it into other PC's?
  24. Chase32

    Chase32 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It's an internal drive not a USB drive, so there's only one power connector.

    The best luck I've had so far is NTFS4DOS. I can access it with that. All I have to do is see if I can find a DOS GUI Copying program to ease the transfer of files.

    I tried BartPE but it won't work with an OEM version of Windows.

    I tried reinstalling Windows but I have XP Home on there and the OEM disk that came with it is XP Pro, so the key won't work.

    PowerMax diagnostics find nothing wrong with the drive. A quick low-level format would wipe the first 300MB and the last 100MB, so wanted to avoid that if I could.
  25. mikescorpio81

    mikescorpio81 TS Rookie Posts: 292

    A good one I use is called MiniPe or minixpe2.
    Its an OS on disk. You should be able to access your data through it once you boot from it.
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