Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Fixing two letters on one hard drive in Windows 2000 ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Fixing two letters on one hard drive in Windows 2000
Category: Computers > Operating Systems
Asked by: and0-ga
List Price: $8.00
Posted: 20 Nov 2002 08:51 PST
Expires: 20 Dec 2002 08:51 PST
Question ID: 111295
I have two hard drives which were previously installed in a Windows
2000 system, where they were lettered G: and H:.  I built a new
computer, and after installation, noticed that Windows 2000 assigned
the letters C: and D: to the drives (my boot drive is not C:).  This
would be fine, except for the fact that the drives seemed to retain
something of their old W2K signature.  Drive G: and H: are listed in
My Computer, but with blank properties.  They do not show up in Disk
Management.  Assigning a new drive letter does not fix this either. 
Drive letters G: and H: are now unusable, and My Computer is crammed
with extra ghost drives.  How can I remedy this?
Subject: Re: Fixing two letters on one hard drive in Windows 2000
Answered By: clouseau-ga on 20 Nov 2002 10:05 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello and0,

Thanks for your question.

As I'm sure you have seen, there can be several reasons this behavior
is happening and you will need to do a bit of trial and error to
isolate the problem. You may have already tried some of the following
suggestions, but I will try to list as many possibilities as I can to
cover most bases for you.

First, have you checked to be sure that the jumpers on the individual
drives are set properly for their cable positions? By this, I mean
that the boot drive is set as a master and appears at the end of the
ribbon cable for the primary IDE cable and that the drives on the
connector in the middle of the cable are set to slave. If you have
more than two drives, or are using hard drives on both IDE cables and
channels, make sure that they are set properly, as well, with a master
and/or master slave for the secondary IDE channel as well.

On "some" motherboards, you will have better results using the CS, or
Cable Select jumper position for your drives rather than the Master or
Slave setting. Try both. Your problem could be a simple as this. had one suggestion
of interest. Although this page applies to Windows 98, I believe it
will work for Windows 2000 as well:

"Make Phantom Drives Go Away 

Do you have drives suddenly appearing in Windows Explorer? Are these
drives totally meaningless? If you don't know how to solve this
problem, you can at least make certain drive letters 'go away.' Access
the Tweak UI Control Panel applet (if you do not have it installed,
read the tip elsewhere in MalekTips). On the multi-tabbed dialog box
that appears, click on the "My Computer" tab (you may need to click on
the arrows next to the tabs to cycle through the tabbed windows). Now,
uncheck the boxes next to any drive letters that you do not wish to

At Anandtech, there is a discussion of changing drive letters. Do
check just to be sure that you have covered this option thoroughly and
double checked that you were logged in as Administrator while making
this change, for example. Do read this article and check the links at
the bottom of the page for additional information I'll excerpt a bit
for you here:

"How do I change drive letters?
...To change an existing drive letter on a drive, partition, or

Log on as Administrator or as a member of the Administrators group.

Right-click on My Computer and select Manage.

Double-click Computer Management, and then in the left pane, click
Disk Management.

Right-click the drive, partition, logical drive, or volume for which
you want to assign a drive letter, and then click Change Drive Letter
and Paths.

Click Change. 

Click Assign the following drive letter (if it is not already
selected), click the drive letter that you want to use, and then click

Click Yes when you are prompted to confirm the drive letter change. 

The drive letter of the drive, partition, or volume that you specified
is changed, and the new drive letter is displayed in the appropriate
drive, partition, or volume in the Disk Management tool.

If the target drive letter is already assigned, say you want to assign
a partition to letter D:, but D: is already being used, assign the D:
partition to another letter first, such as Z:, make the desired
assignment to D:, and then return the original D: to whatever letter
you want."

Since you mention that your system boot drive is NOT "C", I assume you
mean that your system is booting from another drive letter and you
wish to have it return to using the "C" drive as the boot drive.
Again, this sounds to me like a bad cable jumper setting, but if not,
Anandtech continues with the method for changing this:

"Changing the System/Boot Drive letter is a little more complex. For
the most part, this is not recommended, especially if the drive letter
is the same as when Windows was installed. The only time that you may
want to do this is when the drive letters get changed without any user
intervention. This may happen when you break a mirror volume or there
is a drive configuration change. This should be a rare occurrence and
you should change the drive letters back to match the initial

NOTE : In these steps, drive D refers to the (wrong) drive letter
assigned to a volume, and drive C refers to the (new) drive letter you
want to change to, or to assign to the volume.

This procedure swaps drive letters for drives C and D. If you do not
need to swap drive letters, simply name the \DosDevice\letter: value
to any new drive letter not in use.

For your safety, it is best to make a full system backup of the
computer and system state.

Log on as an Administrator. 

Start Regedt32.exe. 

Go to the following registry key: 

Click MountedDevices. 

On the Security menu, click Permissions. 

Check to make sure Administrators have full control. Change this back
when you are finished with these steps.

Quit Regedt32.exe, and then start Regedit.exe. 

Go to the following registry key: 

Find the drive letter you want to change to (new). Look for

Right-click \DosDevices\C:, and then click Rename. 

NOTE : You must use Regedit instead of Regedt32 to rename this
registry key.

Rename it to an unused drive letter "\DosDevices\Z:". (This will free
up drive letter C: to be used later.)

Find the drive letter you want changed. Look for "\DosDevices\D:". 

Right-click \DosDevices\D:, and then click Rename. 

Rename it to the appropriate (new) drive letter "\DosDevices\C:". 

Click the value for \DosDevices\Z:, click Rename , and then name it
back to "\DosDevices\D:".

Quit Regedit, and then start Regedt32. 

Change the permissions back to the previous setting for Administrators
(this should probably be Read Only).

Restart the computer. "

Daniel Petri's MCSE at echoes the above
information and also lists a few links for similar and related

This tip also works for Windows 2000.


Change the System/Boot Drive Letter in Windows - Q223188;EN-US;Q223188

Make sure you read "Unable to Log on if the Boot Partition Drive
Letter Has Changed (Q249321)" for more info.;en-us;Q249321

Similar Drive Letter Change information is also found at 5 Star
Support -

"If you find the need to change a drive letter, Windows 2000 makes
this possible. Here's how:
In the Control Panel, select Administrative Tools. The Administrative
Tools folder will pop up.

In that folder, select Computer Management.  

Click on Disk Management and wait for the Logical Disk Manager Service
to finish scanning your system's drives. You will then see a list of
the drives available in your system.
Click on the drive with the drive letter you want to change. 
Right click and select the Change Drive Letter and Path... option.  

All drive letters linked to that drive will be listed on this popup

Click on the drive letter you want to change and click on Edit. 

Click on the drive letter and a whole list of available drive letter
choices will now appear.

Select the drive letter you want for this drive. 
Click OK and your drive will have a new drive letter. 

Notes:  You will not be able to change the drive letter of your system
or boot volume. However, the drive letters of all other drives and
drive volumes are changeable.

If you want to change the drive letter of a CD/DVD-ROM or ZIP drive,
make sure you insert a disk first. The drive letter cannot be changed
unless there's a disk in the drive."

And last, checking this problem at Google Groups shows:

Search: wrong OR phantom drive letter win 2000 OR 2K

"...I have noticed that adding another hard drive keeps the CD drive
at the same letter that it had at install..."

Win 2K & WIN 98 - Drive Letters Different!

Win 2k problem

"...this also demonstrates a design flaw in where Microsoft gets its
information about drive letters. Instead of putting the info in the
registry where you need the OS running to access the entries they
should have put the info in boot.ini. Then all you would need to do is
edit boot.ini to fix the
drive letter problem (using another computer).

If all the ironies I've discussed aren't enough, you can no longer use
"Disk Management" in Win2k to switch the drive letter back if it has
gone wrong. Microsoft returns the error message "Cannot modify the
drive letter of your system or boot volume." That's why you have to
edit the registry directly..."

You will find a wealth of information in the discussion groups about
these kind of problems. My search results (all 6,000 plus of them)
appear at this link:

I hope the above information leads you to the solution to your
problem. There is also the possibility that a small partition exists
on one or more of your drives that has no data and/or you have mixed
FAT and NTFS partitions in some manner to cause this behavior. You
will have to do trial and error to find the exact cause and I hope
that it is something a simple as overlooking the jumper settings on
your drives.

Good luck. If anything above is unclear, please do ask for

Search strategy:

wrong OR phantom drive letters +windows 2000



Request for Answer Clarification by and0-ga on 20 Nov 2002 11:13 PST

Thanks for the very detailed answer!  The registry fix brought me one
step closer, but I'm not quite there yet.  I've put a couple screen
caps online, so you can get a closer look at the problem.  On the "My
computer" picture, you'll notice F: and G: have no (customized) icon;
also, if you check Fdrive.gif, you'll see that the property page for
the F: drive (like the G: drive) is empty.  The C: and D: drives on My
Computer are the ones that *used* to be F: and G: when they were
installed in another computer.  On diskman.gif, you'll see that
neither of these drives show up in the disk manager; that's what keeps
me from removing them (or using the drive letters, since Windows sees
F: and G: as being in use).

Like I mentioned, the registry key
(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices) was very helpful; I tried
deleting the F: and G: keys, but Windows just recreated them on boot. 
I think Windows (on the old system) may have put some sort of drive
signature on the two hard drives, somehow marking them as being F: and
G:, or at least reserving the letters.  That's just a guess, though.

Thanks for your help so far, Clouseau!  :)

Request for Answer Clarification by and0-ga on 20 Nov 2002 11:19 PST
I just wanted to reiterate that my main (if not only) goal is to
remove the F: and G: drives from my system, so that the letters (and
screen space in the My Computer window) are available to other drives.
 Thanks!  :)

Clarification of Answer by clouseau-ga on 20 Nov 2002 11:38 PST
Hello again,

Most happy to help and glad we have made a little progress.

As you know, this is most odd behavior. Particularly when you have
removed the registry keys for drives F and G and they rebuild. To the
best of my knowledge, there is nothing on the physical drive that
could cause them to be read as a particular drive letter as this
information should only be stored in the registry.

I will continue to research this for you and will be back with my


Clarification of Answer by clouseau-ga on 20 Nov 2002 12:14 PST
Hello again,

Here are some more snippets of information that may be helpful. Do
look down to the ***** first as this seems to show good promise for
your problem.

"Windows 2000 allows the static assignment of drive letters on
volumes, partitions, and CD-ROM drives. This means that you
permanently assign a drive letter to a specific partition, volume, or
CD-ROM drive. When you add a new hard disk to an existing computer
system, it will not affect statically assigned drive letters.

You can also mount a local drive at an empty folder on an NTFS volume
using a drive path instead of a drive letter. For more information,
see Related Topics."

This may be promising:

"When you mount a local drive at an empty folder on an NTFS volume,
Windows 2000 assigns a drive path to the drive rather than a drive
letter. Mounted drives are not subject to the 26-drive limit imposed
by drive letters, so you can use mounted drives to access more than 26
drives on your computer. Windows 2000 ensures that drive paths retain
their association to the drive, so you can add or rearrange storage
devices without the drive path failing. "

I found several more like this and it is sounding like what you are
seeing is assigned local drives.

I searched for -remove OR delete +"local drive" win Or windows 2000 OR
2K- and found:;en-us;318752

HOW TO: Install and Use the Recovery Console in Windows 2000


diskpart /add /delete device_name drive_name partition_name size

Use this command to manage the partitions on your hard disk volumes.
/add: Use this parameter to create a new partition.

/delete: Use this parameter to delete an existing partition.

device_name: Use this parameter to specify the device name that you
want to use to create a new partition. The name can be obtained from
the output of the map command, for example: \Device\HardDisk0.

drive_name: Use this parameter to specify a drive letter-based name
that you want to use to delete an existing partition, for example D:

partition_name: Use this parameter to specify the partition-based name
that you want to use to delete an existing partition. You can use this
parameter in place of the drive name argument, for example:

size: Use this parameter to specify the size of the new partition in
megabytes (MB).;en-us;205524

How to Create and Manipulate NTFS Junction Points


You can surpass the 26 drive letter limitation by using NTFS junction
points. By using junction points, you can graft a target folder onto
another NTFS folder or "mount" a volume onto an NTFS junction point.
Junction points are transparent to programs.

This article may be helpful.


And, this looks like it may VERY well pertain:;en-us;303290

Drive Mapping for the Home Folder May Overwrite the Local Drive
Mapping after You Apply Windows 2000 SP2


After you apply Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2), a drive letter
disappears from My Computer. If you look in Disk Management, that
volume drive letter is missing. You can re-assign the same drive
letter back, but still cannot access it. If you look at the properties
of the volume, the file system type is Unknown and its capacity
reports zero bytes in size."


To resolve this problem, obtain the latest service pack for Windows

The English-language version of this fix should have the following
file attributes or later:
   Date        Time    Version        Size     File name
   07/27/2001  01:38p  5.0.2195.3963  332,560  Msgina.dll


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft
products that are listed at the beginning of this article. This
problem was first corrected in Windows 2000 Service Pack 3.

This appears to be what you are seeing.

Do let me know if anything above leads to your solution.



Clarification of Answer by clouseau-ga on 20 Nov 2002 13:26 PST
Hello again and0,

Another researcher (thanks feilong) has made the following

He believes the problem is in the boot and partition records. and
suggests running Norton Utilities. You can also try to run Norton Disk
Doctor (ndd32), and/or "Norton Windoctor" which will automatically
detect and repair windows and installation problems.

He also suggests downloading the latest "Seagate DiscWizard" from the
Seagate website, regardless of whether the drive is Seagate or not.
The "Maintenance" button that will tell you to select an option
regarding what action to make and you should select "Update CD-ROM
Drive letter" because he feels this is the key. Seagate DiscWizard
will automatically make the changes and rewrite the appropriate drive



Clarification of Answer by clouseau-ga on 20 Nov 2002 15:52 PST
Hello again,

Yet another researcher (thanks legolas) has uncovered a very good
Microsoft Knowledgebase article on how these drive letters function in
Windows 2000:

How Windows 2000 Assigns, Reserves, and Stores Drive Letters;en-us;234048

He suggests importing the drives into Disk Management since they do
not appear there by themselves at this time. The information in the
above article should be very helpful.


Clarification of Answer by clouseau-ga on 20 Nov 2002 20:06 PST
Our pleasure, and0. I'm pleased the problem has been solved for you.

Thank you so much for the rating and the tip!

and0-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $15.00
Problem solved!  Thanks to your *very* in-depth research, your
willingness to openly consult your peers, and the comment from
bananarchy, I've gotten to the root of things.  It seems that the two
drives each had an extra partition on them; a partition which started
*past* the end of the disk, and was 0 bytes.  I was able to use the
recovery console to delete the 0 byte partitions, returning my drive
letters to circulation.  In the process, I've learned a great deal
about W2K drive lettering and control.  Thanks for the help,
bananarchy, Legolas, Feilong.  And Clouseau, thanks for all the hard
work, and a great GA experience!  :D

Subject: Re: Fixing two letters on one hard drive in Windows 2000
From: bananarchy-ga on 20 Nov 2002 11:44 PST
It's also possible that this problem is the result of older
partitioning information on the drive(s) itself.  If you originally
installed the drives when C-F were already taken (i.e., in use by
other devices), the partitioning program would have assigned the
drives letters G and H, successively.  If this is the case, a program
called Partition Magic ( will do most of the
groundwork for you, and reassign drive letters however you want them. 
If you're feeling REALLY brave, you can do the same thing with FDISK
through an MS-DOS shell, but that can become... unpleasant if anything
is configured wrong.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy