Hard Drive letter reallocation after mirroring

Posted on 2002-04-14
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Recently I gave up trying to get a problematic IBM drive working and, because it was still under warranty, I sent it back to IBM for a replacement.
Before doing so I got a new cheap Maxtor drive of the same capacity and, using the Maxblast drive software, did a 'mirror' of the IBM to the Maxtor. This meant I could send the drive away while using all my software on the Maxtor.
When the IBM replacement arrived I intially formatted it and left it as a slave in my system, to ensure that it was working properly.
After a couple of weeks I finally got around to repeating the Maxblast 'mirror' process, this time the other way - from the Maxtor to the new IBM.
When I'd done, I swapped the jumpers around to make the IBM the master and removed the Maxtor from the system to make sure the IBM was recognised and worked OK.
The problem started when the IBM booted, but stopped just before presenting me with the login screen for XP.
I figured this was something to do with XP and decided the best thing to do was to reinstall it over the top of the installation already on the drive. I changed BIOS to boot from CD and accepted the 'repair existing installation' option when it was offered.
This went OK, and eventually the drive reset and booted.
But I got some error messages, and on inspection I discovered that the main boot partition was still being called 'E:', which was the name it was allocated when the drive was installed as a slave after it first arrived.
XP's disk management won't let me rename the partition to C: so I effectively can't use this drive!
So I'm now back on the Maxtor, which is OK but it's not as fast as the IBM and I'd like to use the IBM as master if possible.
I was hoping the 'Maxblast' software would have simply mirrored everything on my system across to the IBM, but clearly drive letter allocation isn't something it handles.
So how do I get this IBM drive working again without having to reinstall everything manually? Is threre a way to rename the drive?
Question by:EricCartman
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 6940353
This is a scheme that started with WinNT.  The OS puts some sort of signature file in the master boot record (MBR) with the drive letter.  It really screws up a Linux installation, BTW.  Anyway, since it boots according to the first active primary partition, you should be able to remove the Maxtor, boot a DOS or Win98 boot floppy and type fdisk /mbr with only the IBM drive installed.  This wipes the MBR.  The use fdisk the normal way to make sure the IBM's primart partition is set to 'active'.  If you don't know how to do this, please write back before proceeding.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 6940384
if magarity's suggestion doesn't help you can also try starting the computer in safe mode and remove everything under disk drives in the device manager.  Restart, and let windows detect the drive.

Author Comment

ID: 6942771
No luck with either answer, I'm afraid :-(

The only boot disk I had around was an old Win Me one, but that had FDisk on it so I used it - did as suggested and reset the MBR. But when I then ran FDISK.exe I saw that the main drive partition was being seen as the 'PRI DOS' partition anyway, and it was already set to 'A' status.
Its entry made it clear that, at this stage at least, it was being seen as drive C: with the second partition correctly recorded as D:
Saved the settings anyway and rebooted, but things stopped at the 'Windows XP' logo again.

Tried booting in safe mode, but still got stuck at the XP logo...

Any more thoughts?
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Expert Comment

ID: 6942871
You need a diskwipe program like ZAP or similar that wipes out the first set of sectors.

Also  How to wipe a drive clean

Or use the IBM software to do a full read/write test that wipes the drive.

I hope this helps !

Author Comment

ID: 6943152
So in other words there's no way I can get this drive useable without reformatting and reinstalling all 15-20Gb of software on it?
I was rather hoping to avoid having to do that by using the mirror of the drive I already have running...
So even if I reformat the drive, isn't there a way of restoring the data to the drive WITHOUT having to do each file/program manually??
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 6943171
The best thing to do would be just to reload everything and take a image of the drive once you have it back the way you want it, using a program like Norton Ghost.

Partition magic will allow you to change the drive letter, but since that partition contains windows, that may cause serious problems.
LVL 13

Accepted Solution

magarity earned 100 total points
ID: 6943287
I can't figure out what XP might have done, so here is the quickest thing I can think of to prevent you needing to reinstall everything.

1.  Make sure all data is on the Maxtor and the Maxtor works happily by itself.

2.  Remove the Maxtor from the system and install the IBM.

3. Install (including format drive) the most basic XP installation possible.  This should wipe out whatever hidden info making the IBM 'E'.  Make sure this boots up by itself.  Don't bother doing any of the XP registration stuff.

4.  Reinsert the Maxtor and use the copy software to copy everything from the Maxtor to the IBM.  At this point, do NOT boot XP on EITHER drive with them both installed!  

5.  REMOVE the Maxtor this time before booting the fresh copy on the IBM.  Make sure the IBM boots happily and EVERYTHING works before even thinking about erasing the Maxtor.

6.  Once you are absolutely certain the IBM works by itself, install the Maxtor with your boot floppy handy.  Use fdisk to kill the 'old' boot partition from the Maxtor.  We don't want the two XP installations to fight each other in any way.  Boot XP and use its fdisk and format utilities (DIsk Management).
7.  Next time, don't mess with installing a replacement drive as a slave for a couple of weeks to see if it works.  Just set aside the drive with the saved info before installing and formatting it as a storage drive.

LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 6943937
windows NT or XP put a file in the root directory of each partition named ~DRVLTR~ or something (its hidden)
its has the ASCII letter of the drive which is assigned. say smily face for C: (0th drive )
you can delete such files if any and then restart. i assume the copy went right and data is accessible.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 6944008
Don't see a file like that on my 2k system, but there is a folder called 'System Volume Information'.  Inside that is a file called 'tracking.log'.  It contains the Windows Networking name of my PC and some high ascii.  Hmmmm, wonder what its tracking.  I hate spyware.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 6944107
try changing the ascii code and see if any reorder happens to the names

Author Comment

ID: 6949950
Thanks Magarity - bit of a long way around but like you said it seemed to be the only answer! It certainly did the trick.
I guess the problem was my lack of trust of the new/replacement drive and concern that there might have been something on the old drive - configuration information, registry data, or whatever - that had caused the problem in the first place.
I'll be keeping the Maxtor safe for a month or so before erasing it to make sure that the new drive is fully operational!
Thanks again

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