Drive Letters (Part 2)

By Val Bakh 2.4.2 Drive letters (part 2) In the first part, we covered the basics of drive letter assignment and the changes that Windows Vista has made in this area. Let’s now try some tricks.
Let’s say you don’t mind having your own system volume but you want it to be easy to access. This issue can be solved quickly. The system volume isn’t hidden, it just doesn’t have a drive letters. It is not visible in Windows Explorer, but Disk Management can see it. Open Disk Management to assign a drive letter for the system volume. The letter B is the most common available, as very few computers today have a floppy disk drive. Because the alphabetical precedes C, the B drive alphabetically precedes C, so B will not cause any confusion if there are other volumes (D E F, etc.). on your computer.
Let’s say you partition the disk beforehand. Windows 7 will install on the volume you choose as the installation destination if you create multiple volumes. Windows 7 will install Windows 7 on the volume you have marked active. It will not remove the drive letter from the volume that is being used as the system volume, but it will use the active partition.
Here’s a more challenging challenge. Let’s say you want Windows 7 to be installed on a different boot volume than C. This can be confusing if you have multiple instances of Windows 7 each claiming that their boot volume is the C. The C drive becomes the boot volume for the instance you are trying to boot into. Other instances’ boot volumes will become D, E, and so on. It doesn’t matter if you have already assigned the drive letters. Windows 7 will always reassign letters to C drives if you start Windows 7 installation from within WinPE. Are there ways to revert to the traditional letter assignment?
First, partition the disk into as many volume as you need, designate a volume as active, then install Windows 7 on another volume. This volume will be assigned the letter “C”, regardless of any previous letter assignments. Next, boot into Windows 7 and start a second installation on the volume currently assigned the letter C. Each of these instances will retain the drive letters.
Here’s our last trick for today. Let’s say you don’t need a multiboot configuration. All you want is a single system volume with the letter C, and a single boot volume using the letter D. What can you do to get Windows 7 to accept drive letter C? You will need to install an older version of Windows that will accept any drive letter you give it. Windows Vista is more flexible about having a separate volume, but it will still gravitate to the letter C. Windows XP is a better choice. First, partition your hard disk in the way that you prefer. You can also boot from a Windows XP DVD and create partitions during Windows XP setup. You can also boot into WinPE and use Diskpart command line tool. Do not assign drive letters at this stage; Windows XP will assign C and D to the first partitions, respectively. Windows XP will be installed on drive D. Windows XP will launch Windows 7 from Windows XP. Windows 7 will replace Windows XP. The files will be moved to a folder called Windows.old, and the files will then be accepted to live on drive.

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