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How can I assign a permanent drive letter to a USB CD-ROM drive in Windows Vista?

Posted on 2007-11-29
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
I have a laptop with Windows Vista 32-bit installed. The laptop has an internal hard drive, an internal CD-ROM drive, and a USB dock with an external CD-ROM drive plugged into it. I am also using TrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) to mount an encrypted volume with a drive letter.

My desired configuration (which worked in WinXP) is:
C: - Internal hard drive
D: - TrueCrypt volume
E: - Internal CD-ROM drive
F: - External CD-ROM drive
U: - Internal SD reader with card plugged in

TrueCrypt is configured to mount the encrypted volume after the desktop is loaded and a password is entered. If my preferred drive letter (D:) is available, the volume is assigned that drive letter. If it is not available, the next available drive letter is assigned.

My problem is that upon reboot, C:, E:, and U: are assigned correctly, however, the external CD-ROM drive is assigned to D: presumably because it is the next available letter at the time. The TrueCrypt volume is mounted after the password is entered, which is after the hardware is detected and assigned drive letters.

I have used the MMC Disk Management utility to assign the drive letters as I want them, but the external CD-ROM drive keeps jumping to the wrong spot upon reboot. Interestingly, I've assigned drive U: to an SD card via Disk Management and that hasn't given me a single problem, consistently returning to U:.

Does anyone have any thoughts on why I can't get an external CD-ROM drive to consistently stick to the same drive letter?

TIA
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Question by:CNeeper
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willcomp earned 125 total points
ID: 20379179
Give USBDLM (USB Drive Letter Management) a try:
http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbdlm_e.html
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by:CNeeper
ID: 31411864
Thank you for a speedy solution. While I didn't end up using USBDLM, I have no doubt, based on its docs that it does exactly what I needed. USBDLM loads as (yet another) service in Windows and, being an optimization freak, I prefer not to add to the system overhead, given a choice. Because I'm confident your solution would have worked, and because even though I didn't use it, it served as a jumping point that ultimately let to a solution that worked for me, I'm going to accept your answer and hand the points to you.

For anyone with a similar problem: a FAQ on the USBDLM web site led me to research USB serial numbers and how Windows uses them to assign drive letters (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/234048/en-us   and   http://forums.microsoft.com/WindowsToolsandUtilities/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=1807380&SiteID=69). For abstract reasons, this ultimately led me to remove the drive letter assigned to the external CD-ROM drive, re-assign the TrueCrypt volume to my desired letter D: and reboot. After confirming that with no drive letter assigned to the external CD-ROM drive the TrueCrypt volume was consistently getting my desired letter D:, I then assigned F: to the external CD-ROM drive again and rebooted. Several reboots later it appears that the process of simply removing the drive letter from the troublesome external CD-ROM drive, rebooting, and then assigning the correct letter to it has resolved the problem.
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Expert Comment

by:willcomp
ID: 20379906
Thanks. I thought from your question that you had already tried reassigning drive letters.
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Author Comment

by:CNeeper
ID: 20384646
I had, but the changes I made wouldn't "stick" through a reboot. It was only after I removed the drive letter and rebooted that I was able to assign drive letters to the external CD-ROM and have them persist through a reboot.
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