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Windows installed to D:\ drive. How to change to C:\ drive?

14,426 2,256 February 2, 2009 at 10:38 AM
Late last year, I bought a new 1 TB SATA HDD (yes, the buggy 7200.11 one, but I updated its firmware from SD15 to SD1A, so it should be OK). I initially made popped it in a docking station as a secondary HDD and started messing around w/ it, like create a few partitions. But I couldn't load Windows on it through the USB. So, I finally got around to putting it in my PC as its only hard drive (which I needed to do anyway to update the aforementioned firmware) and proceeded to install Windows XP Pro.

The installation went fine. I deleted 2 of the 3 partitions I previously created and kept 1 partition (which was a backup of my smaller hard drive). After Windows finished installing, I noticed it put it in the D:\ drive and my untouched partition (containing the other HDD's backup) was retained the C:\ drive. I went to Computer Management > Disk Management to change the drive letters, but Windows wouldn't let me.

Why won't let Windows let me change the drive letters? I basically want to swap them so C:\ contains Windows and D:\ contains my data backup. If Windows won't let me do this, is there a free utility that will? TIA.
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Joined Feb 2005
Cold Steel 'n Sunshine
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#2
just curious, but is there a reason you want Windows on the C drive? convenience?
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#3
In Disk Management Just select the drive/volume that you want, and right click and go to Change Drive Letter And Paths. Hit change and just change the current C drive to another letter not in use and then change the drive you wanted to be to the C drive.

You can't do that? You have to click on the bar in the bottom or the little drive icon before you right click.




Quote from Canine
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just curious, but is there a reason you want Windows on the C drive? convenience?
Other than that, maybe some file links got messed up.
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Worlds Most Modest Man
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#4
Quote from Canine
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just curious, but is there a reason you want Windows on the C drive? convenience?
Yes, out of convenience and habit. Also, some apps are not smart enough to know where Windows is actually located and will assume C:\ drive. So if you don't remember to change from C:\Program Files\... to D:\Program Files\..., then you'll have some apps on C:\ and some on D:\.

Quote from rebat
:
In Disk Management Just select the drive/volume that you want, and right click and go to Change Drive Letter And Paths. Hit change and just change the current C drive to another letter not in use and then change the drive you wanted to be to the C drive.

You can't do that? You have to click on the bar in the bottom or the little drive icon before you right click.

...
Thanks, that's exactly what I tried to do, but Windows wouldn't let me do it (yes, I have Admin access). I'll post a screen shot of that error message when I go home tonight.
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#5
windows won't let you do that for the active windows drive. Partition Magic used to have a way to do it.
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#6
Just a note, Vista (eventhough people hate it) does this automatically. I have Vista installed on a dual-boot system on drive D:, but whenever I start up Vista, it automatically switches C and D drives, so the boot drive is C. Sweet. Cool
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#7
Make user the Partition with windows installed is the active partition. Boot from the WinXP CDROM to a command console and run "fixboot C:" that SHOULD reset it. I'm not 100% sure though if it not installed to the first primary partition though if it will make it C:.
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#8
The reason this typically happens is because the Windows installer sees another partition, assumes it's C: , and therefore creates the new OS installation as D:. And it should be obvious why this happens. Windows has to assume all the partitions will be visible at boot time.

So how do you prevent it? If the existing partition is on another HD, don't install it until AFTER the OS is installed. If it happens to be an existing partition on the SAME HD, you could image the partition to another HD or CD/DVD temporarily, install the OS, then restore. Or perhaps use a tool like BootIt NG [terabyteunlimited.com] to temporarily HIDE the existing partition(s) until the OS install is complete. If the other partition is in fact another OS installation (even if you're not using it, the Windows installer will still see it), then you will definitely need to use a boot manager. A good boot manager can HIDE other partitions so that any other partitions remain invisible to the Windows installer and will thus ALWAYS install as C:. And there are many good reasons to insist on C: as your boot drive.

In a nutshell, all these drive letter assignment "issues" stem from the basic problem of not being able to hide partitions. Hide your other partition(s) and POOF, all these problems go away. And how do we hide partitions folks? USE A BOOT MANAGER (e.g, BootIt NG)!
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#9
Quote from eibgrad
:
The reason this typically happens is because the Windows installer sees another partition, assumes it's C: , and therefore creates the new OS installation as D:. And it should be obvious why this happens. Windows has to assume all the partitions will be visible at boot time.

So how do you prevent it? If the existing partition is on another HD, don't install it until AFTER the OS is installed. If it happens to be an existing partition on the SAME HD, you could image the partition to another HD or CD/DVD temporarily, install the OS, then restore. Or perhaps use a tool like BootIt NG [terabyteunlimited.com] to temporarily HIDE the existing partition(s) until the OS install is complete. If the other partition is in fact another OS installation (even if you're not using it, the Windows installer will still see it), then you will definitely need to use a boot manager. A good boot manager can HIDE other partitions so that any other partitions remain invisible to the Windows installer and will thus ALWAYS install as C:. And there are many good reasons to insist on C: as your boot drive.

In a nutshell, all these drive letter assignment "issues" stem from the basic problem of not being able to hide partitions. Hide your other partition(s) and POOF, all these problems go away. And how do we hide partitions folks? USE A BOOT MANAGER (e.g, BootIt NG)!
Bingo. AFAIK, there's no way to change the active OS partition letter at this point. Unless there's some partiotion magic-like tool that has the ability to.
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#10
theres a way to force it to c: (i beleive you delete it in the mounted devices)... But when you boot it up... it wont find your accounts and will just be stuck at the welcome screen with a blank account list... I know of no way around that
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#11
Quote from beowulf7
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Yes, out of convenience and habit. Also, some apps are not smart enough to know where Windows is actually located and will assume C:\ drive. So if you don't remember to change from C:\Program Files\... to D:\Program Files\..., then you'll have some apps on C:\ and some on D:\.
I don't think this is correct. I dual boot two operating systems, one on C:\ and one on D:\ . I have never had any application or file saving, unless specifically told to do so, default into my C:\ drive while using the operating system on D:\ and vice versa.

Convenience on the other hand, that's all in preference so I can't argue there.
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#12
I appreciate the feedback. I'll look into BootIt NG program eibgrab mentioned so that I could hide my data partition on the C:\ drive (it does not contain a Windows partition - just a large Acronis backup file) and then change the D:\ partition to C:\ partition. Then when I unhide the data partition, I assume it will be assigned the D:\ drive?

BudV, one of the Asus (my motherboard) utilities I was installing last night actually defaulted to the nonexistent C:\Program Files\ folder. I of course changed it to D:\Program Files since that's where Windows is.
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#13
Interesting. Hmmm

Just an idea. Is it possible to boot into ubunto from a USB drive or cd and use a disc utility to change the now not active D to C ? I have no clue if this would even work though.
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#14
Even if you deleted the other paritition it would still be d:\.. Basically Windows remembers what drive letter a specifc partition is mounted on. I have seen this problem alot with internal media readers (usually it makes what should be the c:\ partition H:\ or i:\).

For more information on this see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/223188

But be warned... last time i tried this while it did change the drive letters it showed no accounts when i logged back in (i think it was looking for them on the old partition). And if you change them and you can't log in... you must use an external registry editor in an environment like sysinternals or something similar
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#15
just reinstall the OS and pay attention next time
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