Partitioning - Drive Letter Changes

Posted on 2004-11-29
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
  I have a client that is running a Win98 P2P server, and the C: drive was running out of disk space.  The client purchased a new 40 gig HDD, and I partitioned/formatted/installed it.  I created an extended partition, and a logical drive letter D: -- all was good to go.  During the install, I noticed that whomever set the box up initially had only partitioned 2 gigs out of the 20 gig primary drive, hence wasting 18 gigs of space.  What I would like to do is, re-partition the primary drive into 2 partitions C: (system, boot) and D: (data).  What I am wondering is, once I do this will the extended partition and logical drive created on the primary drive allow me to name the D: drive ? and automatically rename the partition on the secondary drive to E:?  Or, will I have to assign a new drive letter to the secondary drive first, and then re-partition the primary?  Your thoughts are appreciated.  TIA.

Question by:hedgie67
    LVL 31

    Expert Comment

    Does 98 support user-defined drive letters?
    I thought the win9X family was stuck with the automatic drive letter assignment system:
    IDE 0 master; the primary partition is the system partition and always C:
    IDE 0 slave; a primary partition will be D:
    An extended partition (or the logical drive) will get the next letter, even if it's on the IDE 0 master.
    For your setup I'd expect you to get C: and E: on the IDE 0 master, and D: on the IDE 0 slave

    If you put the new drive as IDE 1 master the situation is the same.

    Since you say you made the partition on the new drive an extended partition, this may not hold, of course.

    Is the old drive set up in good old FAT? That may explain the 2 GB size of the primary partition... You'd need to make the extended partition on that drive FAT 32 to use all its space. It will be interesting to hear if you can mix FAT and FAT 32 on one drive...

    Perhaps a backup and a clean rebuild is easier than doing a lot of adjustments.


    Expert Comment



    look into some type of partitioning software such as Partition Magic.
    LVL 24

    Expert Comment

    This is just a note...not a solution or answer of any type...
    At the time the primary partition may have only supported 2GB or they may have installed a new hard drive and "Ghosted" the old drive onto it.  The old drive may have only been 2GB...hard to imagine...but I remember 5 MB drives and even 5 1/4 inch floppy "arrays" for the TI 99/4a.

    Anyway, I had a 540MB drive and upgraded my system to a 2GB Western Digital (had to use EZ BIOS at the time).  I had a C and D drive on the 540MB drive.  I used ghost to ghost the new drive and it worked.  Partition Magic was a great help to re-partition the drive.  At the time I think I had to back the info off of D: before I could repartition.  That was 11 years ago or so, if memory serves me correctly.

    I, of course, had a backup of the drive...I had an external 2GB Backpack drive that connected through the printer port.

    Those were the days....*sniff*

    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    If I'm not mistaken you could remove the CD-ROM drive from the system, Partition and format the hard drive for drive letters C: and D: for primary drive and E: for secondary.  Check the bios and make sure there is no auto settings for drive letter assignments and if it does have something like that make sure its set to manual.  Reinstall your CD-ROM drive and it should become the F: drive.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

      I have a full backup of the system, and have suggested to the client that we perform a clean install of Win2K pro.   What would be my best option to create C: and D: on the same drive then?  During the install if I re-partioned IDE 0 master into 1 primary and 1 extended partition, would the extended  be given the D: drive letter? and would it automatically allocate a different drive letter to the extended partition on IDE 0 slave as well?  Please explain my options. Thanks again for all your replies.

    LVL 31

    Assisted Solution

    If you don't do anything actively about the drive lettes, I still think the old scheme will hold - first all primary partitions and then the extended ones and then all drives accessed by drivers (e.g. CD units). This can be adjusted in the disk manager quite easily after the fact, so don't mess with it until w2k is up and running. You can even do all the partitioning except primary (system) partition after installing the O/S.

    Partitioning the bootable drive (IDE 0 master) is a good idea only if you want to separate the system partition from a data storage area (which incidentally is a good idea, IMHO). Depending on the network and the demands for access rights etc, you may want to keep to FAT32 for easy access to data if the system crashes. NTFS is a bit trickier in that department, but has other advantages according to some.

    Accepted Solution

    Install both HD on same IDE controller
    connect CDROM to other IDE controller
    (Sharing IDE cable between hard drive and CD ROM may slow access to your hard drive)

    Install Windows:
      during installation you can select IDE 0, create a partition for C: (system) leave the rest for your Data partition D: (no need to create here)

    After install of OS:
      Open Disk Management under Admin Tools and you can create your new Partitions D: (data) and E:(40GB?)
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Rid & JayAZ,
       Thanks for the help.  I am going to take your advice and perform a clean install of Win2K Pro.  I will create a primary system partition (C:), and install the OS.  Once the OS is up and running I will use the disk mgt feature to manage the extended partitions accordingly.  Due to the similarities of both your answers, I have decided to split the points.  Thanks again.


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