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Windows won't assign a drive letter

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by Rumpel, Jul 2, 2008.

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  1. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    My son's original computer quit suddenly -- either the mobo or the CPU died. No big deal -- he replaced the machine. But he wants the data on the hard drive from the old machine.

    So I installed it in his new machine for him as a second hard drive. That was the easy part.

    The new machine's BIOS sees and recognises the drive, and so does the Windows hardware management services on the new computer. The drive is visible in both the Device Manager and the Disk Management utility. But Windows will not assign a drive letter to it, so it does not come up in My Computer. What's on it is not accessible.

    The BIOS correctly identifies the drive as a 40GB Samsung SP4002H. Disk Manager shows it as a basic drive with a capacity of 37.3GB with 19.64GB free in a NTFS format. It is marked Active and Healthy. Drive Manager's Disk Rescan utility has no effect, and the option for re-assigning drive letters for this drive is greyed out. The only available options for this drive are "Reformat" and "Help".

    The new system the drive is now mounted in provides IDE connections for both SATA and PATA drives. The Samsung 40GB drive is a PATA drive, and is in the Master position on the data cable. A DVD drive is in the slave position. Both are jumpered for CS. The BIOS shows the Samsung drive as the Primary Master, the DVD drive as the Primary Slave, and the SATA boot drive as the Secondary Master. There are no other drives in the system.

    The system the Samsung drive came from was a 5 year old machine that was running XP Home -- probably SP1, but I don't know that. I'm guessing. The new machine is running Windows XP Pro SP2 off a 160GB Western Digital drive formatted with NTFS.

    What do I have to do to get Windows to assign a drive letter to the Samsung drive so we can access the data on it?

    One further datum that may or may not be relevant or even accurate: Samsung's jumpering instructions on the SP4002H are confusing in the extreme. When I pulled it out of the dead system, I thought it was jumpered for a 32GB capacity limit. But I'm not sure -- I may have misread the jumper chart on the drive. And the jumpers have now been moved several times trying to resolve this issue and the original setting is gone. Both the BIOS and Windows Disk Management in the new machine report the drive's full capacity. The drive is not now jumpered for a capacity limit.
     
  2. pjhutch

    pjhutch

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    You need to assign it a drive letter via Disk Management console (diskmgmt.msc), select the drive in list and select 'Change Drive Letter and Paths..' from pop up menu.
     
  3. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    Thanks, pjhutch.

    Unfortunately (as I mentioned in the fourth paragraph), that option is greyed out. Can you suggest how I might be able to activate that option?
     
  4. pjhutch

    pjhutch

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    What does it say next to the drive?
    Maybe you need to initialise (NOT format) and import the foreign drive first before you can assign a drive letter ? See Help and Support for info.
     
  5. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    The Disk Management utility shows the drive as Disk 0 and reports it as online, with the following additional information:
    Volume: (blank)
    Layout: partition
    Type: basic
    FileSystem: NTFS
    Status: Healthy (Active)
    Capacity: 37.20GB
    Free Space: 19.64GB

    I tried accessing the drive through DISKPART, the command-line utility. No go -- the drive does not show up there. DISKPART shows only the system volume and the optical drive.

    The Disk Management utility does not show an option for importing a foreign drive. The online help seems to say that option appears only when dealing with a dynamic disk. This is a basic disk.
     
  6. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    Some additional info that might help somebody think of a solution...

    I installed the Samsung drive in an external USB enclosure and hooked it up to two different computers as a USB drive. Same results with each of them: the Windows Drive Management utility correctly identified the drive, but without a drive letter. Same obstacles to resolution, too: "change drive letter" option greyed out, and all that.
     
  7. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    Everything I've seen recently (including in Microsoft's online help for Windows) that uses the term "initialize" in connection with a hard drive uses the term as the first step in setting up a new drive for use. Then the drive is partitioned, and formatted.
    I don't want to do those things -- I'm trying to access the data that's on the drive, not wipe it out.

    In short, pjhutch, I'm not at all sure what you mean by "initialize" or how I would go about it without damaging the data on the drive. Could you be a little more specific about that?
     
  8. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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  9. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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  10. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    Well, I'm still working on the drive.

    Thanks to a Knoppix boot disk, I was able to access the drive by booting into Linux and burning most of the data files my son needed to a CD-ROM. I was also able to copy a few files I missed to a floppy disk.

    I'll try TestDisk and see what happens. If it trashes the data on the drive, at least that is no longer a problem.

    However: the first statement in the link in managed's post of July 6, 2008 says: "If there is a (hidden) recovery partition on the drive you should start a thread asking for advice before trying TestDisk". I tried mounting the drive in a machine in which it was the only hard drive. Norton GoBack kicked in when the system tried to boot from that drive, but went into a boot loop. Using NGB to try for a restore to an earlier restore point was not successful for the only restore point that was available. And there is an 11MB hidden partition on the drive. I'm assuming that NGB put that there -- but I don't know that for sure.

    Any comments, managed? Anyone?
     
  11. pjhutch

    pjhutch

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    As far as I know NGB (Norton GoBack) does NOT create a hidden partition. That is usually done by OEM to restore the system if the main Windows installation on C: fails. Usually you press a key to enter the restore system to restore windows back to factory defaults.
    GoBack does have issues with dual boot systems and does not work well with low level tools (NGB should be disabled first) before using them.
     
  12. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    Thanks, pjhutch.

    As presently configured, the Samsung drive is slaved to the boot drive of the system I'm using to fix the Samsung drive -- i.e., the system does not boot from the Samsung drive I'm trying to access. NGB is not installed on the boot disk. Can I assume that NGB is not a factor when using a utility such as TestDisk under these circumstances?

    Cheers...
    Rumpel
     
  13. pjhutch

    pjhutch

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    I think that you can ignore NGB although I am not sure how TestDisk works. Does it work on an entire disk or does it work on individual partitions? As long as its not writing to the disk, it should be fine.
     
  14. jnibori

    jnibori

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    Did you try removing the jumpers all together?

    I have no idea if this is relevant, and I'd hate to throw out a suggestion that causes data loss, but a few years back I added a second HDD to a computer and followed the instructions to the letter as far as the jumper settings. It was a 120 GB Maxtor, which was set to slave. I could not get it to recognize the actual size. It was telling me it was a 30 gig HDD, or something like that. (going from memory- or lack of :confused: )

    I finally gave up and called their tech support. Within five seconds the tech support told me to forgo using the jumpers all together, which actually solved the problem.

    Again, not sure if this is relevant, but looking at your original post, it looks like you've pretty much covered everything.

    I just noticed you were able to save data, via Knoppix. (sorry, I tend to blow through these too quick)

    Knoppix is great. I've been using Slax myself.

    I had a problem using Knoppix with my LCD. Both are pretty decent First Aid for data rescue. Slax seems to have all of the drivers, and allows for drag and drop to Flash drives, and the GUI seems easier to understand and navigate through.
     
  15. Rumpel

    Rumpel Thread Starter

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    You're asking me? The only info I have re TestDisk at the moment is the thread that managed provided a link to in his post on 06-Jul-2008 05:16 PM above. I gather that TestDisk will rewrite a corrupted partition table, among other things. And it does seem likely that the problem is a corrupted partition table or MBR.

    But I don't see how TestDisk can do any of the things described in that thread without writing to the disk. If the problem is in the logical structure of the drive, I don't see any way to fix it without writing to the drive. Am I missing something here?
     
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