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winXP SP2: 'portable/mobile' usb devices (e.g. usb-stick) don't get drive letter assigned - but external harddrives do

Posted on 2006-06-11
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Hi.

My problem is a difficult matter:

If I plug any usb-stick: It gets recognized (in systray you see: Device-name, "drive"). But NO drive letter gets assigned! If I do it manually with partition manager mmc-plugin, it still does NOT appear within the explorer! - If I right-click on the device and select "search through" (2nd in list) then the explorer opens but the drive is NOT accessible there. If I select the 1st from the list ("open"), the device OPENS in a new window, BUT: the address-bar of the explorer is EMPTY!!?? If then in this new window (with the root-contents of the usb-stick) I look at the properties, it says as location the drive letter I assigned. Within a cmd-window, I am also able to access the drive. Single left click on the systray (eject portable-media icon) still shows NO drive letter!
If I simply type the drive letter within the address bar of the windows explorer "<assigned drive letter>:\" and press enter I get the error message: "Microsoft Internet Explorer: file:///<assigned drive letter>:/" was not found. please assure that the path is correct.".

The obscurity continues: If I log off and log on again: I SEE the drive in explorer and I am able to work with it normaly. BUT if I eject the device via the acording systray-icon or by just unplugging it, I have a drive-letter-ZOMBIE ... means: If I click on it (of course) I get an error message. If I REPLUG the device, the drive does again NOT get a drive letter and the zombie-drive-letter is NOT available as free-drive-letter anymore. If think, if I reboot the zombie drive is vanishs.

I already tried to resolve this with a repair-install booting from the windows-xp cd. No change.
I already tried to remove all hidden usb-devices and drives from the devicemanager via:
    SET DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1 <Enter>
    Start Devmgmt.msc <Enter>
No change.

I don't want a clean reinstall from scratch, because this would mean a LOT of work installing ALL applications and their settings.

Thnx for any help and hint in advance.

Greetings,

tormen.

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Question by:tormen
17 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Jonvee
ID: 16881440
tormen,
See if this article helps shed some light on the problem >

USBDLM V2.4.0 - USB Drive Letter Manager for Windows XP
When a removable drive (USB flash drive, flash card reader, portable hard drive) is attached for the first time, Windows mounts it to the first available drive letter. If there is a network share on this letter, Windows will use it anyway for the new USB drive because network shares are specific to the current user and not visible in the context of the system where the letter is assigned. The USB drive then appears to be invisible....

http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbdlm_e.html
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Hamada
ID: 16881461
Have you Installed all the updates after the repair installation ??
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16881478
yes all updates (manually from micosoft website and automatic updates activated).
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Hamada
ID: 16881550
Then This probably is related to a corrupted profile/account , Can you create a new user profile and log into it then check weather this will occur again?

Try using the following tool to assign a letter for the USB drive..
http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/tools/15928.html

Or use the following too to assign a permanent Drive letter for your USB drive ..
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_21628818.html

Try also to Partition the drive and format it, Also make sure your USB cable is working and the USB devices are working properly too, test them by connect any other USB device such as a printer or Cam..

Have alook @ this MS -KB also
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;297694
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16881635

I downloaded USBDLM, unzipped and started ListUsbDrives.exe in a cmd-shell and it was NOT a ble to list my plugged USB-device.

I installed USBDLM just like this (without special .ini file): it changed nothing: no drive letter.
I installed USBDLM with SAMPLE.ini file (I just set U in the list of drive letters): no change.

Then I did this:

Step 1: Remove Hidden Devices

1. Click Start. Click Run. Type cmd and press OK.
2. Type "set DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS=1" (without quotation marks) and press Enter.
3. Type "set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1" (without quotation
marks) and Press Enter.
4. Type "start devmgmt.msc" (without quotation marks) and click press Enter.
5. Click View. Click Show hidden devices.
6. Click "+" to expand Imaging devices, Unknown devices and USB devices.
7. Are there any digital camera devices and unknown devices (including
grayed out devices)? If so, please right click it and click Uninstall.

Step 2: Remove all oem*.inf files

I restarted my computer and waited that all usb devices were redetected. I plugged my USB-stick waited that it was redetected.

The USBDLM service was started, but NO drive letter.

so far about the USBDLM tool..
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16881665
moh10ly:

I tried the novell tool already, without any result. And as far as I see it just controls the diskpart cmd-shell tool. Which I already tried manually without results before.

about your link to http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_21628818.html
thats kind of funny as I wrote that I MANUALLY assigned a drive letter already to be able to access the drive at all and as far as I read in the accepted answer: There was just a description on how to do exactly this...

I wonder why I should take a look at Q297694 - because as far I read this was again just a description on how to use a drive letter with the partition-manager-mmc, which I already tried before writing to this board.
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16881670

I hope that there is somebody, who knows how windows works when assigning a drive letter to a removable media (instead of an external usb-harddrive). And who is able to analyse what I wrote and who can point me on the right part of the registry (were I assume the problem is located).
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16881722

Please keep in mind, that I have to translate some names of locations/programs, because I am working with a german version of windows.

Maybe this can be a helpful hint to give a clue WERE my problem can come from:

I plugged an usb-stick and after I assigned a drive letter manually in the diskmanager (within the computer-managment mmc) (I translated it before with paritiont-manager-mmc).
Then I right clicked on the partition of the usb-stick in the diskmanager-mmc-plugin and selected "format". I chose FAT32, removed the partition-name and deselected fast-format.
After I confirmed that I want to delete everything by formatting I got a message:
The process could not  
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16881737

Sorry I pressed submit accidentially...

Please keep in mind, that I have to translate some names of locations/programs, because I am working with a german version of windows.

Maybe this can provide a clue were my problem comes from:

I plugged an usb-stick and after I assigned a drive letter manually in the diskmanager (within the computer-managment mmc) (I translated it before with paritiont-manager-mmc).
Then I right clicked on the partition of the usb-stick in the diskmanager-mmc-plugin and selected "format". I chose FAT32, removed the partition-name and deselected fast-format.
After I confirmed that I want to delete everything by formatting I got a message:
"The process could not be finished, because the partition or volume is not activated. Please restart your computer to activate the volume."

I know what an active partition is, but I don't know what it means to ACTIVATE a partition or volume... and why my partition/volume got not activated automatically after I plugged the usb-stick and assigned manually a drive letter.

tormen
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Accepted Solution

by:
usieber earned 500 total points
ID: 16881784

This problem has been discussed in the usenet sometimes. So far the only known cause is a more or less failed installation of the Daemon Tools V4.

Here is a typical thread:
http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.hardware/browse_thread/thread/d80bc554d9df03e5


Greetings from Germany

Uwe Sieber

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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Hamada
ID: 16881825
>>>> about your link to http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_21628818.html
thats kind of funny as I wrote that I MANUALLY assigned a drive letter already to be able to access the drive at all and as far as I read in the accepted answer: There was just a description on how to do exactly this...

I posted this in case the computer recognized the USB device, and btw i don't think that you have applied all of what i have posted ?? have you checked your USB device and tested it by using a different USB like cam device or other?
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16882153
moh10ly:
I am sorry, but I really tried/applied all of what you posted. And also with two different devices.
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16882158

Something that might help to clarify further:

I removed the partition table under and overwrote it with zeros (fdisk -z /dev/sdf under linux).
I created a new partition under windows.
I manualy assigned a drive letter u:\ to the partition.

As I wrote already:
If I type "u:\" in the address-bar of the windows explorer, I get a warning:

    Microsoft Internet Explorer:
    "file:///u:/" wurde nicht gefunden. Stellen Sie sicher, dass Pfad, bzw. Internetadresse richtig ist.

    =

    Microsoft Internet Explorer:
    "file:///u:/" wurde nicht gefunden. Stellen Sie sicher, dass Pfad, bzw. Internetadresse richtig ist.
    "file:///u:/" not found. Ensure that this path or internetadress is correct.

I then typed "u:\" in Start - Run and I got a message:
    This drive is not formated...

Then I formated the drive under cmd:

    C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\Administrator>format /FS:FAT32 u:
    Der Typ des Dateisystems ist RAW.
    Das neue Dateisystem ist FAT32.

    ACHTUNG: ALLE DATEN AUF DEM
    FESTPLATTENLAUFWERK U: GEHEN VERLOREN!
    Formatierung durchführen (J/N)? j
    Überprüfung von 494 MB
    Die Dateizuordnungstabelle (FAT) wird initialisiert...
    Volumebezeichnung (11 Zeichen, EINGABETASTE für keine)? blubbre
    Formatieren beendet.

      517.132.288 Bytes Speicherplatz auf dem Datenträger insgesamt
      517.128.192 Bytes auf dem Datenträger verfügbar

            4.096 Bytes in jeder Zuordnungseinheit
          126.252 Zuordnungseinheiten auf dem Datenträger verfügbar

               32 Bits in jedem FAT-Datensatz.

    Volumenummer: B84F-D615

    C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\Administrator>



and if I NOW call "u:\" via Start - run, I get a warning message:

    u:\
    Fuer diesen Vorgang ist keine Anwendung der angegebenen Datei zugeordnet. Erstellen Sie eine Zuordnung, indem Sie unter "Systemsteuerung" auf "Ordneroptionen" klicken.

    =

    u:\
    For this event is no application assigned to the given file. Please create an assigment by clicking on "fileoptions" under "system control".


???!!!
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Hamada
ID: 16882197
OHH, It possibly that you don't have the USB ports activated in the BIOS... Check your BIOS settings if the USB ports are enabled .. Check this link for more info about it..

http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/01/04/bios_from_a_to_z/page4.html
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Author Comment

by:tormen
ID: 16882205

moh10ly:
It possibly that you don't have the USB ports activated in the BIOS.

But I can use external usb-harddrives and they get a volume and drive letter assigned.
I can use other usb devices like my scanner.

So the BIOS cannot be the problem, or?
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Hamada
ID: 16882237
Please can you check to make sure?
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Hamada
ID: 16882238
BTW: How many USB ports you have on your computer, and are all built into the Motherboard or u r using an external USB cable or USB Card ?
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