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Windows 7: Win7 has decided my external USB HDD is a CD drive - how to fix?

11 Nov 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Win7 has decided my external USB HDD is a CD drive - how to fix?

On Windows 7 Home Premium, I have three external HDD drives as well as the standard internal HDD, where the OS itself is installed.

One of the externals is a WD MyBook, which reserves a partition as a system recovery disk for the MyBook. I never access that system recovery partition, which is assigned drive letter F:, and it's been fine for months.

Now, suddenly Windows has decided it's a CD drive. When I boot the PC, an autoplay dialog comes up for this F: drive, asking to scan for and launch media files. In software like Power DVD, this F: drive is showing up as a removeable media source for files for Power DVD to play, and there seems to be some general conflict going on that I haven't quite pinned down yet -- for instance, if I'm playing a Blu-ray from my actual optical disk drive, and doing things with files on the G: drive, which is the actual data partition of this WD external HDD, sometimes the Blu-ray disc is suddenly and spontaneously ejected from the Blu-ray drive and the faux-CD drive tries to take over Power DVD and find files for it to play.

I'm certain I don't have a virus or other malware. I've been through the system with my virus buster (Avira), with Malwarebytes, and with heavy-duty malware and rootkit detectors like Hitman Pro and TDSSKiller, and found nothing.

I tried removing the two partitions of the WD drive completely from my Device Manager, rebooting the PC and letting them reinstall, but Windows just put the F: drive back as a CD drive.

This is driving me kinda nuts. How do I fix it, please?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Nov 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

It's normal for these drives, unfortunately. I believe I had to use a third-party utility to completely clear the drive of all the crap.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Thanks for the reply, DeaconFrost.

Something's changed, though, because up until recently this partition never made a peep and just sat passively. Now, it brings up an autoplay dialog every time I boot, and sometimes in the middle of a session, with no apparent reason or connection to anything that's running at the time. And when it suddenly just takes over Power DVD, ejects the disc that's running at the time in the Blu-ray drive, and tries to play itself - even though there are no media files on that partition - then it's definitely gone rogue.

Do you know if the drive will still function as a normal drive if I reformat it without the Smartware partition?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

13 Nov 2011   #4

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1

I have 4 WD external HDDs and in all of them I have deleted the partition containing WD smartware.

If you are not using the WD backup program for backing up data, you can safely delete this F: partition from Windows 7's Disk Management. Now expand your data partition to cover the space created by the deleted partition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2011   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Thanks for your reply. I was unable to delete it in Windows 7's disk management, the delete partition option is greyed out. The best I've so far found that I can do is to disable the partition in the WD's own utility software.

Unfortunately, the situation has exploded to disaster proportions since my last post. I copied the data off the drive, in preparation for reformatting it - nearly 900 GB - then got distracted, got my foot caught in the USB cable of the temporary drive I had just copied the data to, and pulled it off the desk - it fell hard onto a hardwood floor, and yes, the temporary drive has now gone down the tubes, taking all my data with it. It won't spin up now, and just makes this loud seeking sound over and over.

Jeez I love computers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2011   #6

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1

Sorry to hear that!

I hope you have copied the data from WD drive to the temp drive but not moved it.

In case you have moved it from WD drive, there is still hope to recover the data from WD drive, using Data Recovery programs like Recuva or Diskdigger. Before you attempt to recover the data from WD drive do not write anything to that drive 'cause it will overwrite the deleted data.

With regard to the F: partition you should be able to delete it after disabling it inside WD smartware. I don't remeber the exact procedure as I have done it two years ago.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2011   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Hi rraod,
Re the F: partition - no, now that I have disabled it, I can't see it in Windows disk management. It's essentially invisible to everything but the WD Smartware management utility.

About the data: I had copied the data to the Maxtor drive, and then deleted the folders in the normal way (by deleting them to the Recycle Bin, and then emptying the bin). Nothing new has been written to that drive.

But I tried to recover the files with both Recuva and Recover My Files, telling them to recreate the folder structure, but neither one is very successful. I haven't done anything but search so far - I've made no changes. "Recover My Files" can recognise some folders, but nowhere near all of them, can't recreate the folder names, and isn't putting them back in a hierarchical structure. Of the folders it seems to be recognising, it has the files all jumbled up as to which folder they should go in. I'd heard so many good things about Recuva, but it is renaming the files and folders as if they were registry keys, and isn't recognising the correct file extensions, which in Windows of course makes them almost unusable.

Ye gods I'm kicking myself! How frustrating.

I know you can't see what I see looking at this, but if you can make any suggestions, I'd be really grateful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2011   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Since you have been trying different Data Recovery software, why not try PhotoRec and Test Disk too in that order.

Guide to using PhotoRec recovery software.

Regain a lost drive using Test Disk - An Illustrated Guide

You have faced disaster after disaster and let us hope for the best. Good Luck.

Note: 1. PhotoRec is risk-free. It does not write anything to the Disk being recovered.

2. Test Disk has more advanced features and can write to the disk. So exercise caution.
Do a google search, read and understand as much as possible before you venture. My guide is just an introduction and my trial was a limited one and not tried in a realistic -by this I mean not tried on a really battered HDD - case. ( I have only prepared myself to any such eventuality. )
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Nov 2011   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by MacEachaidh View Post
Do you know if the drive will still function as a normal drive if I reformat it without the Smartware partition?
Mine has been working fine, but it was a little tricky to remove the partition. I am not sure if I used DISKPART or a third-party app, but as long as the app could show the hidden partitions, it cleared just fine.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Nov 2011   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit

I have had many problems where I lost data, and I have tried many pieces of software to recover that data. The one that I found to work the best was iCare Format Recovery. It is a bit expensive, but you can download the trial version first to see if it will find your data. Recover files from formatted external drive, hard disk, memory card, sd card, pen drive | iCare Format Recovery It found more of my lost files than previous software I had tried. Again, make sure you recover to a different drive than the drive you are recovering data from.

iCare Data Recovery Software
  • restore deleted files even emptied from the Recycle Bin
  • restore files from any formatted drive including full format or quick format
  • recover files from inaccessible partition when partition gets deleted, lost, damaged...
  • recover files from virus attack, other software damages,
  • recover files from bad MBR, damaged DBR, bad $MFT, damaged boot sector...
As a comprehensive file recovery utility, iCare Data Recovery Software is able to help you restore lost files from most data loss situations.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Win7 has decided my external USB HDD is a CD drive - how to fix?

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