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Make internal hard disk drive-letters permanent

I use a 2-bay hot swappable drive caddy.
SATA disks on trays are used for each bay.
With AHCI turned on, the disks are hot pluggable.

3 disks are configured as separate drives, each with its own drive letter,
J (1 disk), L (2 disks), through Computer Manage > Disk Management
Intention is to hot swap out drive L with the assigned drive letter, L: staying permanent.
Presently, each time the L: drive disk is swapped, the XPP OS automatically assign the next available drive letter, eg F:
An unattended file sychronisation program is used to keep drives J and L in sync.
The program, Super Flexible File Sychronise, relies on drive letters.
Therefore, permanent drive letters is very necessary.

Is there a way to deal with this situation within the XPP OS? Or is there a utility software to achieve the same result?
Any tips and suggestions from the Experts would be most appreciated. Thanks
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garychu
Asked:
garychu
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2 Solutions
 
kirubalksCommented:
Mounting the drives would be a good idea.
You can mount a particular partition to a NTFS folder permanently. This is not depended on drive letter and finds the exact partition.

Eg: if i have a partition with drive letter L:, i can mount this to C:\partitionL
So whenever you want to access the particular partition you have to open C:\partitionL
This does not change when you swap the HDD

Here i will show you how to mount the partition which has the drive letter L
Goto run -> diskmgmt.msc
right click on the L partition -> click Change Drive letter and path
click remove button if you get a confirmation messages press YES.

again right click and goto "change drive letter and paths" of the particular partiton
-> click Add button
-> select "Mount in the following empty NTFS  folder"
-> click browse button
-> select your internal HDD may be C: drive
-> create an new folder and name it partitionL
-> press OK, OK

now if you want to access the partition you can goto C:\partitionL
this is permanent mount point for the particular partition. So the path C:\partitonL does not change.

Hope this helps.




 
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garychuAuthor Commented:
Thanks, kirubalks.
Just to be sure I have understood it correctly.
If for instance, I mount partition on drive L: to C:\partitionL,
the files will physically stay on the partition in drive L:
So if I have say 2 mount points, C:\partitionJ and C:\paritionL , I can simply synch the 2 mount folders and it should work as if I am synching the 2 drives J: and L: ?
Thanks again!
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garychuAuthor Commented:
I have since tried mounting two drives which are supposed to be swapped.
Problem is, each drive has to be mounted to an EMPTY folder.
How do I mount say 2 hard disks to the same mount folder?
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kirubalksCommented:
Yes!
C:\partitionL is just a mount point for the particular partition. Earlier you accessed L: now C:\partitionL.
The files are not stored in C:\partitionL it just refers to the physical HDD partition.

I think Super Flexible file synchronizer uses two base folders to sync.
So contents of C:\partitionL can be sync with C:\partitionJ successfully.

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garychuAuthor Commented:
But as stated earlier, I could not mount 2 physical hard disks to the same mount point.
I need to be able to swap out the disk in C:\paritionL and stil be able to sync with C:\partitionJ.
Mount point, C:\partitionJ can stay permanently. But C:\partitionL need to be able to accomodate either one of 2 physical disks!
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nobusCommented:
maybe this helps, but i never tried it on a sata drive caddy :  http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbdlm_e.html
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twohawksCommented:
Typically we try to post answers and not links, however, being very interested in this question myself, and finding this to be a real conundrum for most, I think it is appropriate to post some findings here.

Bottomline so far as I can tell, unless you are using a swap-bay solution like "High-Rely", the only reliable method for managing this reliably is to run a script.

One of the more common recommends I have seen is using diskpart:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/300415

Some scripting options are discussed here
http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/10905-change-drive-letters-to-your-liking/


BTW, this was discussed here a while back. Check out this question for some good insights into the challenges:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Removable_Backup_Media/Q_26105491.html

...and this is a decent reference too...
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Backup_Restore/Q_26104038.html


These  seem some good references for wmi-centric scripts for drive/volume handling:
http://www.activexperts.com/activmonitor/windowsmanagement/adminscripts/disk/drives/
http://activexperts.com/network-monitor/windowsmanagement/scripts/storage/diskdrives/physical/

===============
Sorry I do not have time to work up a script at this moment (and so this is not really a solid answer), but perhaps the above references may help point you in a useful direction, and be decent references in this posting for posterity.

When you finally settle on a solution, would you please post it for us.  A lot of people wrestle with this issue ;^)

If I find a better utility (I tried to find the High-Rely util, but you cannot get that independently from buying the hardware) I will post back, but I really thinnk its going to come down to using diskpart or relevant script solution.
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twohawksCommented:
To follow up..., in my prior post you can find info on how to use diskpart, and some suggested solutions. Also, here are some solid online references for it...
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/300415
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766465%28WS.10%29.aspx


If there are any wmi scripting  masters here, it would be really cool if you would pipe up...

****I want to point out that it is possible to write a wmi monitoring script that will detect a drive change and be able to automatically assign the desired drive letter based on criteria (like the lable on the drive, or other things).

Here is a link to a discussion at techarena revealing some info related to doing this:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766465%28WS.10%29.aspx

Wmi monitoring is nice because if done correctly it incurs practically no overhead on the cpu, ram, or system resources.  I would love to spend more time and write and test something - I think this would be an ideal custom solution to pursue.
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twohawksCommented:
I meant to post this too (for posterity).  
Learn how to master the DiskPart command
http://forums.techarena.in/guides-tutorials/1172499.htm
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garychuAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the input, Experts.
I now have a fair bit of stuffs to go through.
Hope there is no problem with keeping the question open.
But will definitely revert as soon as I begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
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twohawksCommented:
There's certainly no rush "to close", garychu.

In fact, if it was me, and I was trying to work out the wmi/scriptable approach, I might submit a request to moderator to please submit to an adjacent relevant section to request experts in that area to come and review this question with us (a very cool aspect/feature here at EE).

Also, it will be helpful for you to post your final solution for posterity, so others may benefit ;^)

Personally I am very interested to see what shakes out here.
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garychuAuthor Commented:
Yes, I think I have resolved the issue to my complete satisfaction.
Thanks to Expert nobus, I followed the link ( http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbdlm_e.html ) , downloaded and installed a small utility called USBDLM. Installation was simple. With the help of this utility, I am now able to specifically designate the drive letter required for any given disk. No working around in the OS. Once configured, each time a SATA hard disk is hot-inserted, it gets mounted with the letter specified; without the need to re-boot. I am very impressed by this piece of software. And I feel compelled to mention some of the key salient features I found to be extremely useful;
- Very small foot-print, installed as a Windows service, using local system account, largely maintenance-free.
- Available for both 32-bit as well as 64-bit Windows OS up to Win 2003.
- Well written documentation
- Simple configuration via .ini file with lot's of options for the power users
- Inspite of its name, among others, hot-pluggable SATA disks are supported (requiring just an entry in the .ini configuration file.
Obviously, full utilisation of the software requires studying the documentation. But just to illustrate the relative simplicity of the configuration, I resolved my issues with the following configuration files;
a) Configuration file on host computer
[Settings]
WriteLogFile=1
LogFile=E:\USBDLM\log.txt
LogLevel=3
FlushOnSleep=1
[DriveLetters]
; bus type, e.g. USB, FireWire, ATA, ATAPI
BusType=ATA
; drive type, e.g. REMOVABLE, FIXED, CDROM, FLOPPY
DriveType=REMOVABLE, FIXED
Letters=%drive%\usbdlm.ini
Letter1=J
Letter2=O

b) Configuration file on the root of the hard disk for which the letter L is required
[Settings]
WriteLogFile=1
LogFile=E:\USBDLM\L-log.txt
LogLevel=3
FlushOnSleep=1
[DriveLetters]
BusType=ATA
DriveType=REMOVABLE, FIXED
Letter1=L

It may be that there are some redundant lines. But the above worked for my requirement. I am now able to freely swap 2 hard disks, each time retaining the drive letter, L:

USBDLM is free to the private user. But it is definitely worth the modest licence fee for the commercial user.
I will keep this question open for just a little while more in case there are comments.
Meanwhile, thanks, Experts
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twohawksCommented:
Thank you so much for posting your resolution in detail.
To be honest, I did not have hope for the usb util to work for the sata swap - I had seen others mention possibly tryingit, but no report of anyone needing it for non-usb application that had actually tried it.
I am very encouraged by your report. Very helpful.
Thanks again.
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nobusCommented:
tx for the feedback - i hope your problems are resolved now?
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garychuAuthor Commented:
Grateful for the assistance received.
I particularly appreciate given all those links to follow through while researching for a solution. Helped gave me a good insight.
Thanks, Experts.
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