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USB External HardDrive can't assign a letter and keep it

Posted on 2011-03-17
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi!

I have a Seagate External hard drive that connects with USB. When I connect the drive, Windows recognize it, but it can't assign a letter.

I went into disk management and I see the drive with his name, his capacity, the % free space and it shows healthy, but no letter. I went too in the device manager and there's no question mark in yellow showing, so all the drivers are there.

Into disk management, I can assign a letter and it seems to work, but I can't see it into My Computer. The only way I have to see the files is to right click on the drive and click open. Then, a explorer window appears with the letter in the blue bar but there's nothing into the address bar. After a reboot, I have to repeat these steps.

I've searched on the web and many told to go in the registry into HKLM\SYSTEM\MountedDevices and delete the keys starting by \DosDevices\X: (Where X is the letters that were mapped). I deleted these keys except C, D and E because the internal hard drive has 2 partitions (C and D) and the CD drive is on E.  Into the registry, there's also HKLM\SYSTEM\MountedDevices1, but there's only C and D in it.

I have two network letters (P and U) if this can help someone. Also, I've plugged the hard drive into an other PC and everything works well, so I don't think that the drive itself could be the cause.

Is anyone have something else to try?
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Question by:techinfo_bpm
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26 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:-Manlytrash-
ID: 35157164
I remember having this issue and it was becasue of several ISO mounting software(s) that I had installed on my XP pc. After uninstalling the software my USB sticks worked again. Just guessing though.
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by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35157216
Unfortunately, there's no ISO mounting softwares installed on the PC.

There was a card reader plugged in that took 4 letters, but I unplugged it before starting to work on the hard drive.
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by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35159959
Just in case : I've also tried to install TweakUI and check all checkboxes to view every drive.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 35163681
try assigning a fixed drive letter  : http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbdlm_e.html            
if that does not work, you may need to repair your OS with scf, or a repair install
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35163956
Does this drive have additional power connection? If yes, then connect it.
If not, then purchase a powered USB hub and connect the drive via this powered hub. Your description of the problem looks as your USB port does not give enough power to USB drive.
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Author Comment

by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35164390
The drive has effectively a power connection, but can't work if it's unplugged, so I don't have the choice to plug it everytime I want to use it.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35164497
So your problem is in power. Replace the HDD with the one that works without power connection. Otherwise you do not have choice other than connecting power all the time.
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by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35164578
noxcho : I don't understand your last message... I don't have two hard drives, only one. And that one is always plugged with power connection.
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by:noxcho
ID: 35164748
The drive has effectively a power connection, but can't work if it's unplugged, so I don't have the choice to plug it everytime I want to use it.
You wrote here that drive works when power connected and cannot if disconnected the power cable. Were you referring to USB drive?
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Author Comment

by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35164814
Yes, but you said :

Replace the HDD with the one that works without power connection.

I don't have a HDD that works without power connection...

Maybe I was misunderstood... I would say that the drive needs a power cord plus a USB cable to work.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35164832
Ah, I meant purchase new drive such as WD Essentials, Seagate GoFlex etc.
Or which is better imho - get a powered USB hub. You do not need to connect and remove it (sure if your machine is not laptop). Just keep it connected and powered. Then connect your USB drive via this hub.
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Author Comment

by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35164978
My HDD is a Seagate FreeAgent Desk... I'll keep the advise of the USB hub, but I want to test too the solution of nobus (USBDLM). It may take few days because I don't have access to the computer everytime (it's not mine), but I will post results here.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35165020
Note, normally the USB concentrator gets enough power to work your USB drive with. But due to some reasons this energy supply gets lower and as a result user gets nonmountable USB drives or data corruptions during transfer.
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by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35180836
nobus : I tried the USBDLM software and it didn't work...

noxcho : I thought that I had a powered USB hub but I don't. Currently the drive take its power from a battery, I will try to give power to the USB hard drive without the battery.  If it doesn't work after that, I think that it's the OS that have something... Do you think so you too?
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by:noxcho
ID: 35180980
No, OS is the latest suspect in my list. Normally it is hardware malfunctioning.
Did you connect this drive to any other machine? Does it behave the same?
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Author Comment

by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35181034
Yes I've connect the same HDD on a laptop and on a desktop PC and both works well. Nothing goes wrong. I've even done a copy test of a big folder of music and it didn't fail.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35181087
Most possibly the USB is not giving enough power. Only powered HUB or direct power on USB drive (if there is such option on it) will show it.
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Expert Comment

by:OP_Zaharin
ID: 35181159
my suggestion:

1- the USB power on the PC is not enough for your external HD, even though it has its own power
2- try to disconnect the network drive P & U. i suspect the OS try to assign the same drive letter to your external HD
3- have you ever try to format the external HD? (kindly backup all data from your external HD to the PC first). NFTS quick format is recommended.
4- does the external HD have a installer driver? usually no additional driver required and Windows OS can handle it however Seagate does provide further information on WIndows Service Packs required for certain models > http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?locale=en-US&name=sea-downloads&vgnextoid=1b0cfbbad0f89210VgnVCM1000001a48090aRCRD
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by:nobus
ID: 35181948
>>   I tried the USBDLM software and it didn't work   <<  what happened?  didn't work does not tell me anything
for usb management, you can also use the free trial of Zentimo   http://zentimo.com/
also for giving fixed letters
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Author Comment

by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35182508
nobus : it didn't change anything. It's like I've never used that software. Before using and after using it it's the same thing.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35182573
Try it with hub.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 35182740
if you followed the description on that page and it did not work, it is very strange - sinc eit is used many times on EE
but try the zentimo too
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Accepted Solution

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nobus earned 2000 total points
ID: 35182749
note that it may be caused by a corrupt OS..
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Expert Comment

by:OP_Zaharin
ID: 35185297
techinfo - have u try my suggestion? especially the disconnect the mapped network drive and look thru the seagate website on your specific model;
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Author Comment

by:techinfo_bpm
ID: 35281149
noxcho : The hub did not work, it's getting worse. I dod not heard a sound when I plugged the drive. When I don't use the powered hub, I hear a sound coming from Windows.

Right now, I'm thinking like nobus for a corrupt OS. I remember that I have a ghost image of the computer. I will back up the files, restore the ghost and after that restore the files.

OP_Zaharin : Yes I did.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35281464
You can delete USB concentrator via Device Manager and made Windows reinstall it if you suspect the OS is corrupt.
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