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Binding a drive letter to a removable drive

Posted on 2005-03-16
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I have an Addonics Combo Hard Drive enclosure (http://www.addonics.com/products/combo_hdd/aechdsa35.asp).  I have a serial ATA Western Digital drive in the enclosure, which I use to back up the server every day.  The problem is that every time I put the drive back in the next day, the drive letter changes to the next one in order (if yesterday it was drive E, today it would be drive F).  On top of this, if I use the Disk Management tool in Windows XP to change the drive letter back, I can't because it believes that the drive letter is in use when it's not (**seems as if Windows keeps the letter bound to a drive, even when the drive isn't physically there anymore).  This means that I have to reboot in order to refresh the letter mappings so I can change the letter back.

This is a problem because I'm using Second Copy 2000 (http://www.centered.com) and it will only back up to a specific drive letter.  It's getting really annoying to have to reboot, then change the drive letter back, every time I manually run the backup, not to mention the fact that no one else is "qualified" to do this when I'm away.

Is there any way I can get a drive letter to stay bound to a removable hard drive?  Perhaps if someone knew a way to refresh drive letter mappings without rebooting, then a script can run every time before backup is done.
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Question by:impact-dental
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10 Comments
 
LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:Jonybrv
ID: 13559981
It seems to be a hot swappable drive. Are you using safely remove hardware icon before disconnecting the drive ?
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:Jonybrv
ID: 13560261
Also

You can delete all references to the removed disk by updating the dynamic disk database. To do this, use Disk Management to remove all volumes on the missing disk. After you remove all the volumes, right-click the missing disk, and then click Remove Disk. The missing disk is no longer displayed in Disk Management.
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:davebytes
ID: 13560273
Have you tried setting the drive letter to be at the TOP of the chain, like Z (or Y, or X...)?  Something that other devices won't auto-collide with?

Otherwise, I'd agree with Jonybrv, sounds like maybe you aren't doing an Eject or safe removal, and the driver and OS are getting confused and think the drive is still active.

Or, the SATA controller driver is bad.  Could be that the hot-swap isn't being regarded properly, it is reserving a slot for the drive and not realizing the same drive was re-inserted, etc.  Have you got the latest drivers for you SATA controller card?  Note that some controllers don't necessarily do hot-swap properly -- I assume you DO have a compatible controller to begin with...

-d
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:CorporatePenguin
ID: 13560958
I don't think this is a dynamic disk issue from the sound of the symptoms.

If you want to remove refrences to previos drives that are no longer attached (at least as the computer sees it) remove the enty from the Mounted Devices key in the registry.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices

As to why it's being seen as a new drive each time, is the disk signature being rewriten or something? What backup program do oyu use? ntbackup (shudder)?

Is there firmware on the enclosure that needs to be updated?
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:sciwriter
ID: 13562689
If its XP, use disk management to assign a drive letter to it, starting about 2-4 above your last device listed when it is not plugged in.  That will set it high enough that it won't change.  If it's 98 or ME, you can't fix a letter, period.
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:davebytes
ID: 13569624
Glad someone agrees with me on trying a different drive lettering approach! ;)

If that doesn't work, I'd still look into the SATA controller drivers...

-d
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Expert Comment

by:andtokyo
ID: 13570511
Hi impact, I have run into different versions of the same problem.  The best solution for us was to install iomega's REV drives for new and problematic backup systems.  The REV drive provides the functionality of a tape drive but faster, no drive lettering problems b/c it's internal, etc.  Cheap and effective, its the magical $500 solution.  

And no I do not work for Iomega nor do I hold any Iomega stock.
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Author Comment

by:impact-dental
ID: 13576362
I use HotSwap! (http://mysite.verizon.net/kaakoon/hotswap/index_enu.htm) to safely remove the drives.

Jonybrv: There is no refence to the removed disk in Disk Management, so I there is no way to update the dynamic disk database (yet the letter is still bound and unavailable)

davebytes: I set the letters at the end of the alphabet yesterday, and they cycle to the next available letters at the beginning of the alphabet.  According to Addonics, my enclosure manufacturers, the only fully supported SATA controller card is by Silicon Image.  I have one of these controllers and updated the firmware.  No dice.  You say "the hot-swap isn't being regarded properly, it is reserving a slot for the drive and not realizing the same drive was re-inserted, etc", which is also my suspicion, but I can't figure out a way around this.

CorporatePengiun: There are ne entries from the Mounted Devices key in the registry, so I can't remove the refences.  The letters are still unavailable.

Perhaps I may have to try this Iomega solution if no one else can figure out an answer.



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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:CorporatePenguin
ID: 13576911
there are no entries in the mounted devices key or there are no entries that match the drive letters that the device has been assigned?
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Accepted Solution

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davebytes earned 1500 total points
ID: 13577388
I mean, there are a TON of approaches to backing up a server... but that wasn't the question at hand. ;) ;)

I assume you have run this by tech support of both Addonics and Silicon Image, and neither of them have a clue?  Usually this is the sort of thing they'd have a stock answer to.  You've said you updated firmware, I assume you updated any XP drivers as well... Seems strange.

The link you have to HotSwap! above doesn't work.  And under XP, I didn't think you needed a third-party app.  Maybe that's part of the problem?

I just saw a reference on the web to changing the policy for a drive to be marked as a removeable disk, which would disable write caching... not sure where the heck to do that -- I know under the hardware properties for an already-removeable device you can turn of write caching to make it safe to remove without using the "safely remove hardware" thing, or "eject".  Do either of those two ('safely remove hardware'/'eject') work for this drive?

Just brainstorming -- though again, I'd have hoped Addonics or SI have an answer to this...

-d
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