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Problems with Phantom Drive Letters


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13-May-2006, 05:51 PM #1
Problems with USB Disk and Drive Letters
Hello all. I'm running WinXP Pro with all current updates. I've noticed that suddenly my computer will assign my USB drive a different letter each time I connect it, and I cannot reassign previous drive letters to it. For years I've had it set up to be one drive letter (F), and it would always connect to that letter (A-E naturally taken up by internal drives).

I've done some investigating and printscreened my findings along the way. I hope it will help you see my problem better (I've connected and disconnected the drive several times along the way starting with F, last letter used is J).

First off, I tried going into Computer Management to change it back to F, but it would not list F as an available letter (see first attachment).

I then noticed that using Open or Save As in any program would show previously assigned letters as "Local Disk" (see second attachment with device connected and third attachment with device disconnected). Note that nothing shows up for these letters under My Computer (fourth attachment).

If, in Open or Save As, I click on one of these 'phantom' drives, it produces an error (see fifth attachment).

So there you have it. Please help!
Attached Thumbnails
Problems with Phantom Drive Letters-1.-choose-letter.jpg   Problems with Phantom Drive Letters-2.-open-menu-device-connected   Problems with Phantom Drive Letters-3.-save-menu-device-now   Problems with Phantom Drive Letters-4.-my-computer.jpg   Problems with Phantom Drive Letters-5.-error-1.jpg  


Last edited by Rainking; 14-May-2006 at 03:41 PM..
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14-May-2006, 08:09 PM #2
bump.
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15-May-2006, 09:14 AM #3
You're the second person to run across this recently, and so far I haven't found out anything that would cause this. I'm still checking around for a solution...
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15-May-2006, 04:27 PM #4
Funny, I don't have or have ever heard of Alcohol 120%. And it's not with CDs but with a USB drive. The only thing that I can think of that I did when this started happening is back when I installed some Windows XP Pro updates a couple of weeks ago (the latest ones at the time). Maybe I'll uninstall them and see if that's what is causing the issue.
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15-May-2006, 04:33 PM #5
What do you see listed under Disk Management as far as drives go.
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15-May-2006, 04:34 PM #6
Try going into Computer Mangement > Removeable Storage > Physical Locations and remove any drives listed that do not belong there or that have duplicate entries. I have a few entries that are still in there from an old IDE CD-ROM
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15-May-2006, 05:40 PM #7
Lexon123, you have your own thread here, I've split you off from this one. You need to stop hijacking other folks threads. Continue with your problem here. http://forums.techguy.org/hardware/4...e-letters.html
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15-May-2006, 06:24 PM #8
Good Morning Gentlemen, Phantom drives are a damned nuisance, the Atapi driver used to do it with different CDROMs in the early days.
As you would be aware it scans for devices and can cover numerous repetitions.

So Rainking, I suspect a similar problem is happening here, (guessing actually) and there was a recent MS update that was reported as possibly causing "looping" with some drivers which seems suspiciously in the same kind of area as your problem.

I believe the easy fix was simply to enter a folder and rename Verclsid.exe to Verclsid.old
but I notice it is mentioned currently in the first sticky on this site hidden in a lot of wording under different non-associated things.
You will probably have a brain haemhorrage reading that MS stuff.

Googling Verclsid.exe will probably tell you more.

This entire idea is only a guess that it may be involved, so please treat me gently with any replies.
(Personally I can't understand why Linux isn't the preferred operating system)LOL!
Cheers, qldit.
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15-May-2006, 09:07 PM #9
Well, tried the various suggestions, but nothing. I uninstalled all the WinXP updates I could find in Add/Remove programs up to the beginning of this month (when it started happening), but it still persists.

Two new things I discovered. Restarting the computer eliminates those phantom "Local Disk" entries. And if I reassign the drive letter, then there are duplicate entries of the drive in the Open and Save As dialogs, one for the old letter, one for the new. Either entry grants me access to the drive, as if they are independent of each other.
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15-May-2006, 10:33 PM #10
Lot of fun there I wonder whether the actual USB driver may have been corrupted?
Is there any problem with other USB devices, like flashdrives and MP-3 players and stuff like that.
Does the machine boot normally without the drive plugged in, if so, does the phantom appear when the drive is plugged in while the machine is running normally.
I imagine it won't.
If it does there is most likely something wrong with the driver or the drive, if the phantoms only happen when it is fitted and found during boot it may be a different consideration.

Of course I am only guessing! LOL!
Cheers, qldit.
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15-May-2006, 10:39 PM #11
By the way does the drive contain any important stuff, if so can it be removed to allow a drive zerowrite procedure, I was thinking there may be some kind of impediment with the first cylinder that by experience I have found easiest to overcome by completely zero writing the drive, running a few tests then reinstating.
Was there any reason you were allotting a drive letter to it specifically?
qldit.
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16-May-2006, 05:29 AM #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by qldit
Is there any problem with other USB devices, like flashdrives and MP-3 players and stuff like that.
I actually have three different USB drives: An MP3 player that is picked up by WinXP as a USB drive, a drive I use for external backup, and a third that contains such things as internet downloads and my entire music collection. All encounter the same issue, whether any one is plugged in at a given time, or they are all plugged in together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by qldit
Does the machine boot normally without the drive plugged in, if so, does the phantom appear when the drive is plugged in while the machine is running normally.
It does boot normally, either with it plugged in or not. A phantom does not appear unless I reassign the drive a certain letter, as noted earlier, or I unplug it and then plug it back in, in which case the old letter becomes a phantom (see first post) and the drive gets reassigned the next available letter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by qldit
I was thinking there may be some kind of impediment with the first cylinder that by experience I have found easiest to overcome by completely zero writing the drive, running a few tests then reinstating.
It happens with all three USB drives, not just one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by qldit
Was there any reason you were allotting a drive letter to it specifically?
Well, given their different functions, I like them all to have different letters. And some software I have pointing to certain drive letters. i.e. my backup software to the backup USB, and Windows Media Player to my music library on the other USB.
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16-May-2006, 06:51 AM #13
Good Evening Rainking, well that is certainly odd.

Johnwill has a USB refresh procedure that may well be worth trying

Alternatively, have you considered a malware possibility?

I find that using the Smartcop program is very useful to uncover odd problems in many machines.
http://www.s-cop.com/free-scanner.html
This is a small stand alone scanner that operates somewhat broader than an ordinary A/V.
It generally finds many odd suspects, but where it really becomes useful is running it with another decent A/V monitoring, this procedure commonly finds undetected programs, very often detected in the monitoring system, obviously by some unique effect from the smartcop scanner in progress..

I prefer to put it in a directory like C:\Smartcop so that it can easily be operated in safemode if neccessary.

If any detections are made I don't like deleting anything until I have determined what it is and what effect it may have produced.

This dual procedure regularly catches problems that major A/Vs have missed, it also often finds viral signatures within A/V systems which I don't believe should be present.

If we consider file corruption involvement, as apart from a buggy MS Update, it really doesn't leave much else for consideration, given that the system otherwise has absolute normal hard and software component integrity.
qldit.
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16-May-2006, 07:56 AM #14
Here's the USB driver refresh procedure, in case you haven't tried it yet.

Create a file with NOTEPAD containing the following lines and save it as FIX.REG
-------------------------- cut after this line --------------------------------
REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment]

"DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES"="1"
-------------------------- cut before this line --------------------------------

Double click on FIX.REG and say yes to the Merge Into Registry question.

Unplug ALL USB devices.
Open Device Manager.
View, Show Hidden Devices.
Uninstall all devices under USB Controllers.
Uninstall all devices under Disk Drives that you know are not present.
Uninstall all devices under Storage Volumes. Say no to any reboot prompts until you are finished. Also, if a Storage Volume doesn't uninstall, ignore it and move to the next one.
If you have a yellow ? with unknown devices, uninstall all of the entries there as well.

When this is done, reboot TWICE.

Reconnect the USB devices and see if they're recognized properly.

NOTE: If you have a USB keyboard and/or mouse, you'll have to modify the instructions and leave enough parts for those to function. I don't have one yet, so I haven't had time to modify the instructions.
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17-May-2006, 11:13 AM #15
Well, I finally got the chance to sit down and try your suggestion, JohnWill. I followed it to the letter, but the problem persists. Kinda discouraging; starting to think of more drastic measures that I might need to take if need be.

qldit, I'm pretty confident it's not malware. I use Kerio Personal Firewall, AVG A/V, and Spyware Doctor 3.8, and keep them all up-to-date. I run scans regularly, and have run them since this problem, with no detections. So, I'm pretty sure it's not that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by qldit
(Personally I can't understand why Linux isn't the preferred operating system)LOL!
LOL! I know. And I do like Linux alot. I have a few distros I mess with through VMWare Player, and like what I see. But I rely on my computer to do tons of things, not the least of which is gaming. That's why my preferred OS is Windows, and it's likely to stay that way. Personally, I'm impressed that XP runs as good as it does given the ambitious goal of supporting just about everything, and getting each thing to run easily and play nice with other things on the computer (except of course little hiccups like this). And it just feels a bit more user-friendly than the Linux distros I play with (although I like getting my hands dirty in both Linux and XP).

Last edited by Rainking; 17-May-2006 at 06:35 PM..
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