Changing System Drive Letter? And now I can't boot to Setup!

ehbowen

Thread Starter
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
66
I just installed Windows XP SP2 on a purpose-built, air-gapped computer which I need to run some legacy video hardware. The computer is built around an ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2 motherboard, and has two identical 1 TB HDDs hooked to the two motherboard SATA ports (as well as a PCI SATA expansion card for the video capture HDDs).

After a few hiccups I got the OS installed properly, but I note that the system drive is on drive E:\ and drive C:\ is empty (I'm reserving it for a possible Linux installation). Is there a simple way to swap the drive letters around without reinstalling Windows and choosing the other drive for the OS?
 

plodr

Liz
Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
25,279
two identical 1 TB HDDs hooked to the two motherboard SATA ports
Identify which of the two hard drives is empty. (It's been so long since I looked at XP but if you open My Computer or Device Manager and look at details, perhaps you can identify the drive with the OS installed on it.)

Turn off the computer and unhook the empty drive from the motherboard. Power up the computer and see if XP is now installed on C.

If that did nothing. Turn off the computer and move the sata cable of the XP hard drive to the port that the empty drive was using. Power up the computer and see if XP is on C now.

If that did nothing, I suggest when you install XP again, you only have one drive attached to the motherboard. You can attach the 2nd drive later after XP is installed on the C drive.
 

ehbowen

Thread Starter
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
66
Just changed the title of this thread because I have a new problem: I can't boot from the original WinXP setup disk; I keep getting errors about files missing or corrupt. Let me backtrack and explain:

Last night I installed WinXP (SP2) and it seemed to be working fine, made several reboots, then tried to install drivers from the AsRock support CD (ISO image downloaded directly from AsRock). Went to bed, and woke up to continue installation of the specialty hardware I need.

I noticed that the BIOS clock had reset to defaults, and that it did this every time I pulled the plug to make hardware adjustments. No problem; dead battery; thought the one I put in was fresh but I had a brand new one still in the package. Now the clock keeps time, but I can't boot...to anything. If I try booting from the HDD I had Windows running on last night I get the message "pci.sys is missing or corrupt"; if I try booting from CD/DVD and the original Setup disk I get an error message which varies depending on which HDD is installed (I've pulled the cables on all but one), either "NTLDR is missing (with the HDD nothing was installed on)" or "missing or corrupt hal.dll" if my formerly working system disk is in the boot order. I don't get the "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD" message as I did last night; as soon as it goes from POST to boot (with CD/DVD selected as boot device) I get a fast blinking cursor for about 15 seconds, and then the error message.

I'm using a completely legitimate copy of Windows; it's a full retail box package which specifically permits reinstallation on new hardware that I picked up secondhand via a corporate IT department which had declared it surplus. I also have additional copies of XP for my other video capture machines; I've tried one of them with the same results. The computer hasn't been hooked up to the network at all yet; I do plan to connect it long enough to activate Windows but I want to get it fully configured first. Again, it seemed to be working just fine last night but now I can't do a thing with it. Advice appreciated.
 

ehbowen

Thread Starter
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
66
Tried various combinations of creating bootable USB drives; no joy. Same basic problem, although the exact error messages varied. One common thread was, "Unable to find....; booting from C:\"...when, as I said in the OP, the OS was installed on what the computer referenced as drive E:\.

Proceeding with plan B: I've pulled both 1 TB disks from the build computer and am doing a low level format on them in my Windows 10 rendering computer (which has a pair of hot-swap drive bays available). Once I have both those disks purged of any and all data which may be on them, I'll reinstall ONE of them in the build computer and see if I can reinstall Windows XP onto it without interference.
 

ehbowen

Thread Starter
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
66
Back on the right track. For some reason...maybe a BIOS issue, maybe a hardware limitation...?...I simply couldn't get the computer to boot from CD or DVD no matter what I tried. I looked into the USB flash drive solution again, and this time I found Rufus, which according to this post in Techgage is the only bootable USB creator which still supports Windows XP. After saving an ISO image of my install disk with CDBurnerXP, I used Rufus to create a bootable USB stick with it. The build system accepted it and now Setup is running and reinstalling Windows XP. Keeping fingers crossed; hopefully in a day or two I'll be able to mark this one "solved".
 

plodr

Liz
Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
25,279
Glad you sorted it at.
I've never used Rufus. The only OS I've ever booted from USB sticks are linux distros.
 

Cookiegal

Karen
Administrator
Malware Specialist Coordinator
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Messages
121,349
Addy2525,

Your response has been deleted and has earned you a warn with loss of 1 point on your profile. Please do not post if you have nothing to add that would be helpful to the thread starter.
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
40
@Cookiegal and @ehbowen, please forgive me, it won't happen again I am sorry for this, I said as a joke and didn't meant to hurt anyone with my words...... I also deleted the post, May you please remove the loss of 1 point from my profile? And also am a new member maybe 2 weeks is going since I joined this forum
 
Last edited:

Cookiegal

Karen
Administrator
Malware Specialist Coordinator
Joined
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Messages
121,349
Sorry but it's been four weeks since you registered and users are supposed to read the rules when they join. It states in two areas that this is against the rules:

https://forums.techguy.org/help/rules/

When Providing Help

Be sure to read the issue carefully so that you fully understand it and only post if you have a viable suggestion or solution. Replying only to say that you don't know or don't use that particular product is irrelevant and may warrant a warning.
Irrelevant/Inflammatory Content

While we certainly don't discourage productive and useful debate relating to the particular topic at issue, posts that are made for the purpose of arguing or debating, in a nonproductive or inflammatory manner, an irrelevant or ancillary issue with either the topic starter or another poster are not permitted.[/b]
If we allowed everyone to make such comments threads would be filled with unecessary and irrelevant posts that would make it more difficult to find the legitimate ones.

The warn with loss of a point will remain as I'm already seeing an undesirable pattern of behaviour from you, one of which was deleting your post after I edited it so you in effect deleted my post which could have earned you another warn. I have now restored the post and it will remain that way.
 

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