Changed System Drive letter in registry, now login boot occuring

Client installed Win XP on a new computer, to find that it installed to H drive letter. Client went online to work out a way of fixing this, and found and followed the prompts to change the system drive back to C:/.
Once they did this, they found that on login to the system, either via safe mode or via normal boot, the system gave a loop between "saving your settings" and "logging on".

A little research showed me that this was due to his change of the drive letters, and I have tried and tried to work out a way of either remotely changing the registry back, or fixing the registry external to windows to allow normal boot. So far, nothing much has turned up.
I'm aware of Norton Partition Magic being able to change system drive letters quite easily, and scanning for references to the drive and changing them all. However, I cannot find a bootable version or whatever.

Any ideas on how to fix this?

So far, i cannot boot into windows at all, and there is no system restore point or registry backup. Client doesn't want to have to reinstall windows, since they have a large array of programs.

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

thats a pretty big mistake changing teh system drive letter. 99.99% of teh time this will always amke teh machien inoperable pathways in teh reg become all screwed up, install pathways and uninstall pathways fail.

You might be able to move th e system drive letter back to H which would then allow you to boot just reverse teh above. if that fails and no back ups then you may well be looking at a reformat
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
I'd like to be able to change it back, but the only way I know of doing that is to manipulate the registry - and that cannot be done from outside windows to my knowledge. If there is a way of connecting to a remote registry (not over network) or accessing a registry file on a slave drive, then that would be helpful.
It might be dificult to restore to that registry without having a backup registry.  I suggest to pop your windows xp cd and reinstall the os.  You might try some registry cleaners but it is just problems down the line.  

Good luck

Here are some tools.  However it might not be the best idea!

10 Tips to Protect Your Business from Ransomware

Did you know that ransomware is the most widespread, destructive malware in the world today? It accounts for 39% of all security breaches, with ransomware gangsters projected to make $11.5B in profits from online extortion by 2019.

jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
And yes, it did make the machine inoperable, and did stuff up all the pathways.
If you have a CD burner, a burning program that can burn bootable CDs, and a WinXP installation CD, then go to this site and download the makings for the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows:

What is the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows?
UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair, restore, or diagnose almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the ultimate free hardware and software diagnostic tool. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. UBCD4Win is based on Bart's PE©. Bart's PE© builds a Windows® "pre-install" environment CD, basically Windows® booted from CD. We include many free hardware and software diagnostic tools that allow you to fix almost any problem you will face with your computer. With network support, the ability to modify NTFS volumes, recover deleted files, create new NTFS volumes, scan hard drives for viruses, etc. this project includes almost everything you need to repair your system problems. This project has been put together to be the ultimate recovery cd and not a replacement OS (Operating System). Please visit the "List of Tools" page for a complete list of what is included in the latest version of the project.

Change the BIOS in the pc so that it selects the CD drive as the primary boot device (if necessary), then boot from the UBCD4Win CD, and then one of the tools you can use is the Registry Editor of XP, namely REGEDIT.EXE    In order to be able to edit the pc's registry, you have to do what is called "offline registry editing".  


If the information you want to access was in HKEY_CURRENT_USER: Highlight HKEY_USERS, choose "Load hive" from the File menu, open

X:\Documents and settings\<UserProfileName>\ntuser.dat.

(where X: should be replaced by the drive letter where the pc has Windows installed on it, normally C:)

When asked for a name, choose "OldProfile" (or whatever other easily remembered name you choose).  Access/backup the keys you're interested in. Once you're done, highlight the "OldProfile" key, choose "Unload hive" from the file menu.

If the information you want to access was in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System or in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software: Highlight HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, choose "Load hive" from the File menu, open




(no extension). When asked for a name, choose "OldSystem" or "OldSoftware" (or whatever). Access/backup the keys you're interested in. Once you're done, highlight the "OldSystem" or "OldSoftware" key, choose "Unload hive" from the file menu.  Then exit REGEDIT.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
I won't be able to run the registry cleaners as I cannot boot into windows properly. Any other ideas?
Do you have ERD commander by chance?  With that you could boot windows from a cd and load the registry to make the appropriate changes.  If not you are going to have to find a way to load the registry on the system either by a parallel installation of windows, moving the drive to a working windows computer, or a livecd and editing the registry to correct the changes that were made.
Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
The only approved way of changing the drive letter of the boot drive is to re-install.
Disconnect any external drives, usb devices, card readers etc and to a fresh re-install, using the partition manager built into the set-up program to delete any existing partitions and install Windows again - its the only way.
you can load the hive as described above and you MAY get it working again for me though once this has happened teh problems that could be seen further down teh line would negate teh benefit of a short term fix, whilst i appreciate that the user has apps installed and it might take a bit longer to format and reinstall better doing teh one job now than finding more and more issues as time goes by due to teh system drive letter change
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
Where in UBCD is regedit? I cannot seem to find it. I've used UBCD before... it's pretty good.

It's not in the built-in tools, because it's part of Windows.  But you can access it through the Run dialog box off the UBCD4Win "start menu".  See the first screenshot on this page:
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:

Yours seems to be the most effective answer so far. I have now got access to the registry editor. I'm just trying to work out how to edit and save the local disc registry - it's not as easy as it looks at the start.
I'm pretty sure I need to use the "registry editor - remote program", and navigate it to the local disc. Once I'm there, where do I go in particular?

I agree leetutor's answer will work in the short term but please comsider teh long term inplications of a modified system drive letter, its not worth the hassle IMHO
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
All I'm doing is changing it back to what it was - the modification corrupted the system, I'm trying to recover it.
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
Still having trouble trying to access the remote registry - doesn't appear to be saving.
You are using Load Hive (and naming it) before editing a registry key, then choosing Unload Hive before exiting the registry editor?  Any changes will not be saved if you don't unload the hive first...
jbuzzard, any feedback?
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
jbuzzard, Paragon provides Boot Corrector utility in their Boot CD images that come with Partition Manager 9.0 or Hard Disk Manager 2008:
I have this util on CD and it lets me:
a)Find Windows installations to correct
b)Correct Boot Record of Partition
c)Update MBR
d)and most important for you - Correct Drive letters in system registry so you can bring original drive letter back.
e)Edit BOOT.ini file
The CD is based on Linux SUSE 10.2 Kernel 2.6 so must work for you for sure.
jbuzzardAuthor Commented:
Sorry to all, been away for a few days.

@ leetutor - thanks, UBCD4Win was good, and allowed me to fix the fault - but it still caused corruption in the registry elsewhere - don't know exactly what.
@ noxcho - I'll look at Partition Manager and see whether that works on a different computer I'm having a similar problem with.

I've reinstalled windows on the primary computer. I tried to do a repair install, but it left many programs disfunctional...

Cheers to all for the help
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
System Utilities

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.