how to re-assign drive letters to partitions before installing XP?

I want to permanently re-assign the drive letters for the existing partitions on a HD that was used for data storage only (i.e. I want to keep the partitions), then install XP.  How do I re-assign the drive letters to the partitions?


I have just put one of my (bootable) XP drives into another of my XP machines. The drive, before it was transferred, had partitions C, E and Z. It was placed into a PC that had partitions C and F on its only disk drive as well as taking up letter E for the optical drive.

After insertion the partition letters on the drive changed as follows...

C to D

E to H

Z to G

Just for the acid test, whilst inserted in the other PC, I changed the G (formerly Z) to Y.

I then replaced the drive in its original PC and booted it up again. The partition letters had reverted to what they were before the transfer took place, i.e. C, E and Z.

All of which goes to prove that drive letters do not move with a drive, they are allocated by Windows, at the time of first detection by that particular OS, and stay that way for that particular OS even if altered in another PC.

From this you will see that suggestions to re-letter partitions in an alternate PC are not going to work.

It seems you have partitioning software at your disposal so what I would suggest that you do is this.

These instructions assume that you have an oem Windows installation CD, ie. not manufacturer's recovery media to carry out the installation. Manufacturer's recovery media are likely to format the whole disk (including all your data partitions) before installing Windows.

Firstly back up all important data.

Re-label all existing partitions uniquely. This will help you determine what partitions Windows setup is detecting when you go through the installation process.

Secondly, create some space at the start of the drive, big enough for the new OS by moving/resizing the existing partitions. Then create a new partition in this free space right at the start of the disk, label it uniquely and make it active. Check to make sure that this is the only active partition. Hide all the other partitions leaving the new partition at the start of the disk as the only visible and active partition.

Disconnect any card reader and make sure that no external drives, memory sticks etc. are attached and boot the Windows installation CD.

Hopefully, Windows setup will see your new partition as the C drive and you can install Windows.

Once Windows has successfull installed you can install and use your partitioning software to unhide the hidden partitions. Windows should allocate unused letters in alphabetical order starting with E (or F if you have two optical drives). You can change these letters if you want but you must do it from within the newly established OS, i.e. not in another PC. Your partitioning software probably has this facility or use Disk Management as previously described by Nithyananda J, i.e.


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Question Info

Last updated April 19, 2018 Views 2,581 Applies to: