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Resintallatino of Win XP - boot drive (c:) keeps on installing as e: drive!?!

Posted on 2004-08-02
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Last Modified: 2010-08-05
Ok. I'm an old dog at this and have never encountered this situation before.

I decided to a clean install of Win XP Pro on my Compaq laptop *after* deleting the primary partition using BootIT NG.

After reinstalling WinXP SP1, the C: drive is now the E: drive.

Just a couple of things you can rule out off the bat:

1. I only have one hard drive in this laptop and its on the primary IDE controller.
2. There are no other devices except the floppy drive and CDRom/DVD drive (D:)
3. I cannot change the drive designation using the windows management console as e: is the boot drive for WinXP. The Disk Manager component will not let me change it.
4. The registry hack on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices recommended by Microsoft to change the drive letter doesn't work. Since this is a reinstall of Windows, system files point to the new drive letter E:. If I change it through the registry, the system will not boot.
5. I've attempted a 2nd  re-install where I again deleted the primary partition. The only other partition on the hard drive is my 8MB EMB partition used by BooIT NG.
6. FYI, WinXP Home edition came pre-installed on the laptop orginally from Compaq. I'm installing WinXP pro off of a CD.

Is Windows leaving behind some mysterious secret partition that contains information on any previous intallations? Is there a secret backup copy of the registry somewhere? Or, is the installation process just incorrectly assigning drive letter E:, and if so, why?

I'm at the point that a reinstall is not a big deal.  I really don't want to live with an E: drive as my primary drive as so much software wants to, by default, work with drive C:. And, I don't want to have to remember to type in E: before everything -- call me lazy.

Can I force the boot drive to be C: during the installation?

Thanks.
Jimbo

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Question by:jimbojr
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by:CrazyOne
CrazyOne earned 100 total points
ID: 11699057
Isn't BootIT NG a boot manager? If so then it is what is deciding the boot drive letters of the install. Disable it uless you need it. If you need then let it do its thing and fogetaboutit.
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by:jimbojr
ID: 11699255
BootIT NG is also a powerful partition manager. I use it all the time to create, resize, and backup partitions.

BootIT is *not* deciding the drive letter. I only used it to *wipe* the primary parition. As far as Windows is concerned, its empty, unpartitioned space on hard drive zero.

During the reinstall, Windows setup shows Hard drive 0 as 38147MB free space and my 8MB parition for BootIT NG. BootIT's partition is a FAT32 parition.

I'll remove BootIT NG and try the reinstall to see what happens.

Jimbo

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by:timothyfryer
ID: 11699438
Does the drive still possibly have the hidden BIOS or RESTORE partitions on it.  Some Compaq laptops keep BIOS information on the hard disk in a separate partition.  I don't know specifics, but if there are hidden partitions on the disk, that might account for why xp is using a different drive letter.  If you haven't delete the BIOS partition, you better check it out before you do,  I think it's a giant you know trying to repair one.  They have some kind of setup utility for it I know but beyond that, all I know for sure is that it's a stupid configuration.
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humeniuk earned 150 total points
ID: 11699455
Is this just a case of the 8MB partition becoming C: when the primary partition is deleted (or at least the installation sees it that way)?  So, when you reinstall, C: is considered unavailable, D: is your CD-ROM, E: is next in line.  Can you delete both partitions and boot directly from the installation disk?
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 11699552
>>>BootIT is *not* deciding the drive letter.

Are you sure it isn't active during the istallation. I mean make sure it is turned off completely because I took a look at it and it is also a Boot manager. So how do you know it isn't regulating OS installatioins?
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by:CrazyOne
CrazyOne earned 100 total points
ID: 11699566
Get rid of BootIT NG at his poing there is not reason for it having its own partition unless you are multi booting several OS's. The fact that BootIT NG has its own partition may be confusing XP.
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by:timothyfryer
ID: 11699752
I agree with CrazyOne that, assuming there aren't any hidden partitions for BIOS or Restore, then I would let XP install disk do its thing.  XP Pro usually stomps through and sets itself up as C:\ even when you already have an existing partition your trying to preserve, which usually ends up as an extended partition of XP's primary. So the 8mb must be jamming it if there's nothing else on the disk.
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by:jimbojr
ID: 11700525
Ok. It's a split decision. It was a decision between the good answer and the best answer. So, I split the points.

humenuik had the best and most correct answer. The 8MB partition that BootIT NG installed made the Win XP installer think that there was an active partition (even though it was FAT32), so it assigned the next available drive letter, E: to my primary NTFS partition. So humenuik had the most correct answer.

But, CrazyOne got me going down the right path. Although the comments about BootIT being "active" and it's role as a boot manager were not really the answer, I believe he was trying to say the same thing as indicated in his followup. BootIT NG technically was not active in any capacity, as it normally presents a boot menu before loading any OS when "active". This was not how it was setup. I only used it for parition management. But, by default, it does install its own 8MB parition, an extended master boot record, for parition management. Anyway, while all the comments were rolling in, I had already deleted the 8MB parition and reinstalled WinXP. The installer correctly chose drive C: for my new installation.

So, 150 for humenuik for the best answer, and 100 to CrazyOne for getting me going.

It all makes sense and seems very simple now looking back now. It's just one of those things you see for the first time that throws you for loop becuase it's the first time you've seen it.

Thanks to all for your assitance!

Jimbo
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by:humeniuk
ID: 11704151
Often the 'simple' problems are the most frustrating ones.  Good to hear you're up and running, Jimbo, and thanks for the points.  And I'm glad to know I was able to add something worthwhile with CrazyOne in the room for a change :-).
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