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  1. #1
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Boot drive letters; floppy drive problem

    I actually started this question in another forum, but I think it's more appropriate here:

    All right, here's the current status: I've got the motherboard and CPU (stock cooling) installed in her old Enlight case, with its original 300W PSU. It's running a single 1 GB stick of Kingston PC3200 value RAM (non-parity, unbuffered), a new 120 GB Seagate EIDE HDD and an old 20 GB Maxtor, a Zip 250 and a CD-RW (can't remember which brand at the moment), and a floppy. The OS is an OEM Win XP Home with SP2. I've got both HDDs jumpered for cable select, and the new Seagate in the terminal position, so when I go into setup I see it as master on the first EIDE connector. The boot sequence is CD first, HDD second, floppy third; and it's set to boot the Seagate before the Maxtor.

    [snip]

    (1) Why, despite my description above, does the new 120 GB Seagate boot drive identify as "F" and the old Maxtor 20GB as "C"? And what, if anything, should I do about it? I'd prefer the HDD that contains the OS to be on C, but is there anything wrong with leaving it the way it is? Should I switch the positions of the two drives? Dare I rename the drives using Drive Management in Administrative Tools? (I have no fears in dealing with removable media drives that way, but I fear the boot drive might be different.)

    (2) Why does the floppy drive tell me the "disk in drive A is not formatted"? I'm sure the [brand new] cable is correctly connected; the end that fits into the controller can only go one way, and the other end - which at first was wrongly connected, so that the drive light remained on and the message was "insert a disk in drive A" - has been reversed. Is there a mistake in the setup? Should "floppy disk seek" be turned on? Marcia had this problem with her old setup, and changing the floppy drive itself didn't fix things.
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member zepper's Avatar
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    Windows XP can assign drive letters even on the boot drive. Windows didn't use to allow renaming hard drive letters. You would have to accept the ones assigned by DOS and the BIOS (which in my mind is a good way to do it) even though the standard lettering scheme is inflexible and causes jumping around between drives unless you know how it works and set up your drives' partitions so they come out the way you want. Basically, once XP has loaded, you can set your drive letters to whatever you want. Drive C in windows is no longer necessarily assigned to the boot drive - see how confusing it gets.
    So go into Storage Management and set the letters to what you want.

    .bh.
    "Our freedom depends on five boxes: soap, ballot, jury, witness; and, when all else fails, Ammo. " ?author?

  3. #3
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Um. But I still don't know why the drive letters were assigned as they were. Wouldn't you think that the HDDs on on the first EIDE controller would at least be assigned in sequence?

    And what about the floppy?

    Incidentally, the boot screen seems to suggest that there's a third EIDE controller present with no drives attached to it. There isn't; but it does have a pair of SATA controllers.
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  4. #4
    Ultimate Member sechs's Avatar
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    Windows XP assigns drive letters starting with C first to primary partitions and then to logical partitions on devices that appear to be fixed disks. It assigns letters first in the order of the partitions in the drive's master boot record (usually their physical order on the disk), and then in the order that the drivers are loaded. For controllers using the same drivers (such as standard IDE), then its the order that they presented (which is usually the same order that they appear in POST).

    For example, I have three internal hard drives. The first one is partitioned into a primary and a logical partition; the other two only have single primary partitions. Windows assigns "C" to the primary on the first drive, "D" to the primary (only) partition on the second drive, and "E" to the primary (only) partition on the third drive. It then assigns "F" to the logical partition on the first drive.

    It is possible to have multiple primary and/or multiple logical partitions on a single drive. It is possible to have only primary or logical partitions on a single drive.

    There is no problem with having Windows on drives assigned letters other than "C." The letter assignment is just an alias. I currently have Windows XP on "E," and have had it on D, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, X, Y, and Z. Keep in mind, however, that your boot drive almost universally ends up being assigned the letter "C."

  5. #5
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    So okay: The Seagate 120 GB appears first on POST as IDE Channel 0 Master, and the Maxtor 20 GB as IDE Channel 0 Slave. And I've further specified the Seagate as priority 1 in the boot sequence. What's making it turn up as "F"?
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  6. #6
    Ultimate Member jrsweger's Avatar
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    This may explain why this happened. Microsoft
    If you don't volunteer don't bitch!

  7. #7
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrsweger
    This may explain why this happened. Microsoft
    Yes, that certainly sounds like the reason. Unfortunately, their solution is to reinstall Win XP without the Zip drive . I may try some other approaches first.

    Meanwhile, any ideas about the floppy?
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  8. #8
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Oh, and would I screw up everything I've already installed if I do a repair installation rather than a full, clean one?
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  9. #9
    Ultimate Member zepper's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    First make sure the diskette checks out OK on some other machine including doing a scandisk of it.

    If it doesn't check out, is it possible you have a Mac formatted disk - those won't work in an XP without being reformatted. And you can still find totally unformatted HD diskettes out there.

    So once the type and format of the disk is XP compatible... XP assigns a different media code to floppies than before. So if that disk was made before XP then it may have gotten a media code at the factory that XP can't decipher. I think there is a patch for it for XP. Check the M$ knowledge base. Or just reformat any diskette before use.

    .bh.

    Last edited by zepper; June 6th, 2006 at 03:06 PM.
    "Our freedom depends on five boxes: soap, ballot, jury, witness; and, when all else fails, Ammo. " ?author?

  10. #10
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Getting back to the drive letter question: You know, I just re-set up my own machine last week, with two hard drives and a DVD/RW and Zip 250 already attached in the exact same fashion as above (both HDDs jumpered for cable select on the primary EIDE controller; DVD and Zip jumpered as master and slave respectively on the second) while installing Win XP Home, and the drives were named perfectly normally, with the newer 200 GB HDD boot drive as C and the older 120 GB as D. I know that it's a different motherboard and CPU (ASUS A7N8X, Athlon 2500+), but still...
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  11. #11
    Ultimate Member B71655's Avatar
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    Theo, did you format any drives first? I had a boot drive as F, think I did it by using a drive "F" as install drive, no format

  12. #12
    Ultimate Member sechs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theophylact
    Yes, that certainly sounds like the reason. Unfortunately, their solution is to reinstall Win XP without the Zip drive . I may try some other approaches first.
    Maybe you missed the end of my post, but this drive letter is not a problem.

    While you may find it bothersome, it's not worth attempting to "fix." In the future, you can take appropriate steps when reinstalling Windows, but you're more likely to cause problems by trying to change it now.

  13. #13
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B71655
    Theo, did you format any drives first? I had a boot drive as F, think I did it by using a drive "F" as install drive, no format
    I formatted the drive in the process of installing Win XP. It was virgin; hadn't even been prepared with Seagate's software. Window gave me the option of doing a full format on it, and I did.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sechs
    Maybe you missed the end of my post, but this drive letter is not a problem.

    While you may find it bothersome, it's not worth attempting to "fix." In the future, you can take appropriate steps when reinstalling Windows, but you're more likely to cause problems by trying to change it now.
    No, I didn't miss the point. I realize it makes no functional difference whatsoever; but it's what my old thesis adviser called a Schönheitsfehle, a lack of elegance. A kludge, in other words.
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  14. #14
    Instigator Atomic Rooster's Avatar
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    I had a similar experiance to your's Theo. I recently installed a new 250GB SATA drive as my boot drive leaving the 40GB IDE as master on IDE1. The IDE drive was partioned originally into two even parts with XP installed the "C" partition and hasn't been touched yet. After installing the SATA drive, partioning it and installing XP, the primary (boot) partition was given "F" and the secondary partition received "G". Now, the original "C" partition on the IDE drive has changed to "D" and the secondary partition "D" has changed to "C". Confused yet? Oh yea, the floppy stayed as "A" and my CDRW stayed as "E". Goofy Windows XP.


    Quote Originally Posted by Theophylact
    Oh, and would I screw up everything I've already installed if I do a repair installation rather than a full, clean one?
    If you follow this procedure your applications and settings will be left intact, but Windows updates will need to be reapplied.
    Unofficial TechIMO record holder for the number of times being added and removed from beemer's ignore list.

  15. #15
    Senior Member TheBigCarp321's Avatar
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    Can't you just go to disk management and change the drive letters??
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  16. #16
    Ultimate Member B71655's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theophylact
    I formatted the drive in the process of installing Win XP. It was virgin; hadn't even been prepared with Seagate's software. Window gave me the option of doing a full format on it, and I did.
    How about the old drive? Still have windows, no format?

  17. #17
    Ultimate Member sechs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theophylact
    No, I didn't miss the point. I realize it makes no functional difference whatsoever; but it's what my old thesis adviser called a Schönheitsfehle, a lack of elegance. A kludge, in other words.
    I'd say that you need to spend a bit more time in der Lebenswelt and a bit less on trying to fix that which is not broken, but, merely, unexpected.

  18. #18
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B71655
    How about the old drive? Still have windows, no format?
    No, the old drive (which was the original boot drive) still contains an active copy of Windows.

    Since the BIOS tries to boot all the HDDs in a specified sequence, when I turned on the machine before I installed Windows on the new drive, it tried the unformatted new drive, then tried to load windows from the old drive. Obviously it couldn't do it properly, since it had a new motherboard et multa cetera; but the Win XP boot screen came up. I rebooted with an installation disk in the CD drive and proceeded to install Win XP on the new drive but left the old one untouched because I needed to salvage Marcia's files from it.
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

  19. #19
    Ultimate Member B71655's Avatar
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    Wait, let me clear something up. On your machine, my question was format of the drives pre-re-installation. That C partition is set up somewhere. For Marcia's machine, I see the logic of keeping the C drive as C. Finding files, and so forth. Only fix I'm sure of is a format and install with the old drive dis-connected.

  20. #20
    OAP Theophylact's Avatar
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    Update

    The floppy drive is okay after all; a new, preformatted floppy disk can be written to and read without difficulty.

    I think I'll leave the HDD assignments alone. After all, who except me cares?
    The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell

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