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change primary drive letter

Posted on 2003-10-28
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
My primary hard drive crashed and I am trying to setup my secondary drive as the primary drive.  I loaded windows XP on it when I originally formatted in just in case I needed it as a boot drive.  Somehow though I set the drive to the letter ‘F’.  Now, when it is my primary drive the boot drive is letter ‘F’.  I tried to reset it to ‘C’ drive by using control panel>computer management>disk management, but when I highlight it, right click and choose “change drive letter”  then choose “change”, I GET THE MESSAGE “Windows cannot modify the drive letter of your system volume” error.  I tried using FDISK from windows ME but it didn’t let me change the letter.  Any way I can do this without booting it up as a slave in another computer?

Thanks.
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Question by:rlewistx
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by:sunray_2003
ID: 9637762
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CrazyOne earned 1000 total points
ID: 9637763
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Userinit
change the value from "C:\Winnt\System32\userinit.exe"  to just "userinit.exe"

HOW TO: Change the System/Boot Drive Letter in Windows
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;Q223188

The information in this article applies to:
Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server

This article was previously published under Q223188


IN THIS TASK
SUMMARY

Changing the System/Boot Drive Letter

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry

SUMMARY
This article describes how to change the system or boot drive letter in Windows. For the most part, this is not recommended, especially if the drive letter is the same as when Windows was installed. The only time that you may want to do this is when the drive letters get changed without any user intervention. This may happen when you break a mirror volume or there is a drive configuration change. This should be a rare occurrence and you should change the drive letters back to match the initial installation. NOTE: Please be aware of the following issue related to drive letters:
249321 Unable to Log on if the Boot Partition Drive Letter Has Changed

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

To change or swap drive letters on volumes that cannot otherwise be changed using the Disk Management snap-in, use the following steps.

NOTE: In these steps, drive D refers to the (wrong) drive letter assigned to a volume, and drive C refers to the (new) drive letter you want to change to, or to assign to the volume.

This procedure swaps drive letters for drives C and D. If you do not need to swap drive letters, simply name the \DosDevice\letter: value to any new drive letter not in use.

back to the top

Changing the System/Boot Drive Letter
Make a full system backup of the computer and system state.
Log on as an Administrator.
Start Regedt32.exe.
Go to the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices

Click MountedDevices.
On the Security menu, click Permissions.
Check to make sure Administrators have full control. Change this back when you are finished with these steps.
Quit Regedt32.exe, and then start Regedit.exe.
Go to the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices

Find the drive letter you want to change to (new). Look for "\DosDevices\C:".
Right-click \DosDevices\C:, and then click Rename.

NOTE: You must use Regedit instead of Regedt32 to rename this registry key.
Rename it to an unused drive letter "\DosDevices\Z:". (This will free up drive letter C: to be used later.)
Find the drive letter you want changed. Look for "\DosDevices\D:".
Right-click \DosDevices\D:, and then click Rename.
Rename it to the appropriate (new) drive letter "\DosDevices\C:".
Click the value for \DosDevices\Z:, click Rename, and then name it back to "\DosDevices\D:".
Quit Regedit, and then start Regedt32.
Change the permissions back to the previous setting for Administrators (this should probably be Read Only).
Restart the computer.

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Last Reviewed: 5/14/2003

COPYRIGHT NOTICE. Copyright 2002 Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052-6399 U.S.A. All rights reserved.
 
END  ARTICLE
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 9637779
Also edit the boot.ini

Editing the boot.ini File
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/ddtools/hh/ddtools/bootini_4elv.asp

To edit the boot.ini file in Notepad

Start Windows Explorer. Go to Tools | Folder Options | View. Make sure that Show Hidden Files and Folders is selected, and Hide File Extension for Known File Types is cleared.
Go to the root directory of the boot volume of your computer (on single-boot machines, usually C:\). Right-click on boot.ini. Select Properties, and remove the read-only attribute of this file. Click OK.
Double-click the file icon to start Notepad with boot.ini loaded.
If you are using an MS-DOS® Command Prompt window, use the following commands instead of steps 1, 2, and 3:
c:
cd \
attrib -s -h -r boot.ini
notepad boot.ini

Edit the file. (For a description of the boot.ini syntax, see Contents of the boot.ini File.)
Save the boot.ini file and quit Notepad. (You do not have to restore the original file attributes.)
Shut down the computer and restart Windows.


so it reads something like this multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

only if XP is on the first partition. Otherwise none of this will work.
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Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 9637847
Doing a Repair actually may be the best way around this.

Repair
How to Perform an In-Place Upgrade (Reinstallation) of Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;315341

Visual aid to the above procedure
http://www.webtree.ca/windowsxp/repair_xp.htm
Click on How To Run a Repair Install

You May Lose Data or Program Settings After Reinstalling, Repairing, or Upgrading Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;312369

Data Loss May Occur After Reinstalling, Repairing, or Upgrading Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;312368
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 9637856
And this is assuming that the drive XP is on is the primary and not the secondary and it is on the first partition on the drive.
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