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How can I persuade the Windows installer to choose f: as the boot partition?

Posted on 2008-11-06
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Last Modified: 2013-12-01
A year ago or so I put a second HDD into an existing machine and installed Windows SBS onto it. The Windows Installer assigned f: to the new boot partition. The other day the machine reported that the HDD with SBS on it was in danger of imminent failure. So I backed up the OS and replaced the HDD with a new one. Microsoft's instructions for restoring the OS in this situation include, among other things, the caution that one should install the new OS onto the same boot partition as the old one. For me that would be f:. But the Windows Installer in now absolutely refusing to assign f: to any partition. The original drive has two partitions, assigned c: and d:. It has a CD/DVD drive. It has the new drive in it. When I go to install SBS, the installer initially wanted to assign d: to the new partition. With the partitions on the old drive being c: and e:. If I create two partitions on the new drive, you would think the next assigned letter would be f:, but, no, it jumps over f: and assigns g:. fF apparently belongs to the CD/DVD drive and won't be reassigned. I seem to be stuck with the new boot partition being drive d: or g: or higher. All of which means that I can't do a full OS restore, because the ntbackup won't restore fully to non-f:. Any ideas?
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Question by:therockteam
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:tenaj-207
ID: 22902250
Make the CDROM the Master and the HDD's the slaves.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 22902770
you probably created the D: partiton later, so all drive letters move up a notch.
if you delete that partition, all will be ok (back up it's contents first)
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Author Comment

by:therockteam
ID: 22905556
The c: and d: partitions were created by Compaq. d: has the Compaq installation files on it. I'd rather not touch it. Hmm, but maybe I could substitute another drive with only one partition on it. I'll try that.
The thing that's driving me nutes here is that the system is skipping over the letter f in assigning drive letters. Very frustrating.
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Author Comment

by:therockteam
ID: 22905585
And, to tenaj-207: The CDROM drive is on a different cable altogether. But do you think it would make a difference if I reverse the master/slave relationship between the two hard drives?
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by:nobus
ID: 22905615
what shows in disk management? post a pic ture please
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tenaj-207 earned 750 total points
ID: 22906087
I don't think you need to change the Hard driver Master/Slave.  But put the CDROM on the Primary controller and the hard drives on the secondary controller.
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 22907326
You should be able to change all the drive lettersin Disk manager so just reassign the CD and then a ssign F: as needed


I hope this helps !
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Author Comment

by:therockteam
ID: 22908379
To tenaj-207: Swapping the cables made no difference. It still won't install on f:

To nobus: I tried swapping the "other" drive out for one that had a single partition on it. That also made no difference. Depending on how many partitions already exist, the installer will choose d:, e:, g:, whatever is next. But it won't choose f:

To SysExpert: The situation here is that I'm trying to install Windows SBS onto a partition that it will recognize as drive f:, so that I can restore a backed up installation. I've tried creating the partition in the other OS, Windows XP, and assigning f: to it there, using the Disk Manager. No problem. But then, when I run the Windows SBS installer, it ignores the drive assignments that other OSes have used and assigns drive d: or e: or g:, whatever, as long as it isn't f:. It will not assign drive f: no matter how much I beg, plead, or threaten.

I've also tried installing onto drive g:, then going into the registry and changing it manually to drive f:. I figured I could then restore my backed up installation, and everything would be okay. But, having reset the boot drive from g: to f:, I found I couldn't log in at all. I had effectively disabled Windows entirely by resetting the boot drive letter.

So, thank you all for your help. If no other ideas appear soon, I think I'll just abandon my backup and reinstall from scratch. It will mean that I have to do a whole lot of reconfiguration, which is what I was hoping to avoid by making the backup in the first place, but no loss of data. Truth is, had I not spent so much time on this problem, I'd probably be back in business by now. Instead, I'm still spinning my wheels at the starting line.

Have I mentioned that Windows sucks?
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Author Comment

by:therockteam
ID: 22908702
Well, maybe there is a God after all, and S/He has a mean streak. I gave up, right? Decided to go with whatever drive the system was going to give me, and I'd just rebuild from scratch instead of restoring my old system. Don't you know, the system decided this time to install on f:.

What changed? I put the drive with two partitions back in. The only remaining difference from when I started is the swapped cables. So maybe that made a difference after all. I don't know, but I'll take it. Thanks to you all for your help.
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Author Closing Comment

by:therockteam
ID: 31514260
Although swapping the cables didn't initially change anything, in the end, when I had given up trying to solve this problem, and then it solved itself, your cable-swap was the only change I had made that was still in place. So you get the points. Congrats!
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