Drive Letters and Hard Drives

Question: I am running Win 98 as the OS. I have two hard drives and two CDs. The drive letter assignments are hard drive one = C, hard drive two = D, CD one = E, and CD two = F. I would like to assign the CDs back to D and E and have the second hard drive as F.

Is this possible? (I have read about Assigning a Different Drive Letter to the CD ROM Drive).

Answer: The simple answer to your question is "No, you can't do that" but please keep reading as hopefully the following will help you to solve your problem.

I will first explain why it's not possible to get the drive letter assignments you want. The drive letters are assigned in a particular order whenever you start up your computer. This order is as follows:

  1. The first two floppy drives are assigned to drive letters A and B. If you don't have a second floppy then B remains unassigned.
  2. The active primary partition on each of your hard drives is then assigned a drive letter starting with C for the primary partition on the first hard drive, D for the second hard drive where there is one (as in your case), etc.
  3. If you have your hard drives partitioned with logical partitions then those logical partitions on the first hard drive are allocated the next available drive letters and so on through the logical partitions on all of your hard drives. (You don't have any of these).
  4. If you have more than two floppy drives (I don't know of anyone who does) then these would be assigned the next available drive letters.
  5. Other devices such as CD ROM drives, DVD drives, Zip drives etc are then assigned the next available drive letters based on the order in which they are attached via your IDE or SCSI interface. With IDE drives this is primary first then secondary with master coming before slave in each case. With SCSI the order depends on the SCSI IDs. You can override any of these drive allocations by reserving a different drive letter. The only requirement for which drive letters that you can use is that it cannot already be in use by any of the above allocations.
  6. Finally, any networked drives are allocated the drive letters that you assigned to them provided that those drive letters have not been allocated to anything else.

Unfortunately for you the drive letter assignments to floppy drives and hard drives on your local computer cannot be changed. You can only change the drive letters for other devices and networked drives and then only to drive letters not used by the floppy and hard drives. If you attempt to reserve a drive letter that has already been used for something else then the next available drive letter would be assigned instead.

With two hard drives you can assign your CD ROM drives to any drive letters that you like except for A, B, C, and D. You can reassign your second CD to E provided you first assign the first one to a higher letter.

If your problem is that you have recently installed the second hard drive and now all of the CD ROM references on your computer point to the wrong place then you either need to manually edit all of the references to the CD drives on your computer or obtain a utility program (such as Partition Magic that can do it for you). You can avoid having the same problem in the future by leaving a gap between the drive letters allocated to your hard drives and those allocated to your CD ROM drives.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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