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Windows 7: Drive Letter Configuration Nightmare

13 Nov 2015   #1

Windows 7 Professional x32bit
Drive Letter Configuration Nightmare

Hello all -

I am working on a Dell XPS720 with a Win 7 Pro *32-bit* OS, 4Gb memory, 3 Seagate 750Gb drives, 2 DVD drives, 1 floppy drive, 1 Teac 4-port SIM card drive and an Nvidia GeForce 880GTX Display Adapter. The owner bought it 3+ years ago and never used it; been in storage all that time. He bought it through his company.

1. Wouldn't boot - 1-3-2 beep code. Remove DIMMs, clean contacts & reinstall. Now boot ok.

2. Wouldn't run Windows Update; said needed services weren't running (not so). MS Level 1 Tech verified that BITS and wuauserv services were started, spent 30 minutes on it but couldn't fix the problem. I did some reseach & found a article that said to either delete or rename the
'c:\windows\softwaredistribution\datastore\logs\edb.log' and then reboot (said this file keeps track of the updates and the system would recreate it).

Renamed the file and rebooted. Windows Udates then worked just fine - got over 300 updates total (this PC had never had Updates run at all).

3. I need to mention here that apparently this PC shipped with Win Vista Ultimate installed, based on the MS COA sticker on it. I can only assume that his company's IT crew loaded the Win 7 Pro 32-bit OS (the owner sure didn't do it).

I looked at the disk and DVD drive setup; only two of the drives were online (C: & D:). The 3rd one was offline due to a signature collision. Following is the info from Diskpart inquiry:
Port 0 - D: DiskID: 20000000 (online)
Port 1 - nada DiskID: 20000000 (offline)
Port 2 - C: DiskID: C0923583 (online)

Note that the D drive had never even been formatted. The two DVD drives were (and still are) E & F.

Did some research on this issue & found out how to reassign a disk signature. I used Disk Mgmt & clicked 'Online' for the 3rd drive. I can't remember for certain, but I think there was a confirming entry to put it online - which I did not select at that time (wasn't ready to do this yet).

The next day when back on this issue, I discovered that the 3rd drive was now online as Drive H: (and Port
* 0 *).
After looking at Disk Management, I renamed all 3 disks as follows: Mike-C (C:), Mike-D (D:), Mike-H (H:)

Diskpart inquiry now shows:
Port 0 - H: DiskID: 8D768D76 Mike-H (H:)
Port 1 - D: DiskID: 20000000 Mike-D (D:)
Port 2 - C: DiskID: C0923583 Mike-C (C:)

On top of that, now there is a 'System Reserved' drive (G:) showing up in Explorer. This 'G:' drive is (presumably) the first partition of the Disk 1 'D:' drive. ???? Wow, a 100Mb drive!

Below is the current Disk Mgr screenshot ...

Drive Letter Configuration Nightmare-disk-mgr1.jpg

Drive Letter Configuration Nightmare-disk-mgr2.jpg

My goal is to first (maybe) try to get this mess cleaned up and re-organized into a sensible structure, and then to upgrade the OS to Win 7 Ultimate *64-bit* - as Drive C on **Port 0** - where the original OS probably was to begin with.

I don't want to blow away the current OS yet as there are some programs on there that he thinks he needs to keep (MS Office and a bunch of other stuff he will never use). Whatever. I ran License Crawler and gleaned what info it had to offer.

I just discovered one more minor mess that ought to be fixed. There is a 4 bay Teac SIM card reader installed and Device Manger politely informed me that none of the ports on that are working.
The four ports are as follows:
USB HS-CF Card Drive G:
USB HSxD/SM Drive H:
USB HS-MS Card Drive I:
USB HS-SD Card Drive J:

All four messages says "Windows cannot start the hardware device because its configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged. (Code 19)

Oh yeah, before I forget, the Dang floppy disc drive isn't working either (from the Explorer standpoint). What is odd here is that Dell's diagnotics will run and test the floppy drive - but it does not show up as Drive A in Explorer. Go figure.

Ultimately I think I am going to suggest to the owner that we split the first 750 drive (C:) into two partitions (450Gb & 300Gb), with the OS on C:. AND figure out how the Heck to grant his Administrator priviledge the ability to write stuff to any Dang where on Drive C!! I don't like anybody telling me I can't look at ANYTHING on my Daggone PC, and particularly that I can't write stuff where I want to!!! Pbbbbbbtttttt!

We may then use the 2nd 750Gb drive for backups, configured to the same sizes as the 1st drive. The 3rd drive should just be unplugged and saved as a spare. He needs 2.25Tb of storage like I need a half dozen Maseratis. (One is one too many for me!)

So, just where do I start here?

I have never dealt with a system of this caliber so I'm going slowly and doing a lot of learning!

All help and suggestions appreciated.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2015   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64

It is perfectly normal for the reserved partition to be 100 MB.

What I see wrong.

You have 2 syatem reserved partitions, both are on the wrong drive.

Partition G should not have a letter.

I would move disk 2 to sata port #1 on the motherboard.

Disconnect drive 0 and 1

Reinstall windows to drive 2 (after it`s moved)

Hook up disk 0 and 1 and delete both partitions on each drive and re format and create 1 partition on each drive.

If you don`t want to reinstall windows, then you must mark C Active and run startup repair to right the system files to C

Right now the system files are on Disk 0, if that disk were disconnected Windows would not boot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2015   #3

Windows 7 Professional x32bit

AddRAM -

Thx for the reply.

'It is perfectly normal for the reserved partition to be 100 MB.' OK.

'You have 2 syatem reserved partitions, both are on the wrong drive.' Agreed

'Partition G should not have a letter.' Agreed

But I'm not quite following all the rest of your instructions.

One major issue I have is that the owner wants me to co-ordinate with the Tech group that did the original OS change. This guy (lead tech) is out of town for a while; don't know when he'll be back. Also, as stated earlier, I don't want to mess with the current OS install yet - until I have a stable Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit OS loaded and working on a separate drive.

Note: I have run Chkdsk on all 3 drives:
Drive C - clean except for 229 unused security descriptors. (Not unusual) No bad sectors.
Drive D - clean - no bad sectors
Drive H - clean - no bad sectors

So, what about this approach so I can make some progress in the interim.

The current 'D' drive (SATA Port 1) has a System Reserve partition on it now (now labelled as Drive G).
A. If I just removed the Drive letter G from this System Reserve partition and then immediately shut the system down, will that System Reserve partition remain intact (and without a drive letter)?

The reason I am homing in on this question is that I recently installed a used reformatted 500Gb Seagate drive in a Dell 755 USFF. During the install of Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit, I split the drive into two partitions. The install went well & I am using that system now.

BUT, when I look at Disk Mgmt on this 755, I do NOT see ANY System Reserve partition on it - nothing but C & D partitions. The C partition status says 'Healthy (System, Boot, Page File, Active, Crash Dump, Primary partition)'. I am wondering why the install disk didn't create a System Reserve partition in the process. ???

B. With the PC powered off, disconnect all three hard drives - remove the power connector from each drive and unplug the interface cables. Is there any particular reason or advantage in unplugging the interface cables from the mobo SATA connectors? Easy enough to do.

Then, physically relocate the (old) D drive to SATA Port 0 and Drive Bay 0. Leave the other two drives powered down and disconnected.

C. Boot the system with the install disk. I haven't decided whether to partition this drive or not - haven't spoken to the owner about that yet.

Given that a System Reserve partition (theoretically) should be there, can I assume the install program will use it? Is there any reason to think that partitioning the disk would have any effect on whether a System Reserve partition would or would not be created, or used if it already exists?

I'll deal with the rest of this mess later.

Pls adv. Thx

My System SpecsSystem Spec

13 Nov 2015   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64

Ha, I knew you would get lost there, most people do.

A Yes

B Yes

C Running startup repair does not create a Sytem Reserved partition, windows does that when it`s installed, you just want to write the system files to C. The C partition must be marked Active for that to happen. Startup repair may have to be done up to 3 times.

Startup Repair

Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times

Partition - Mark as Active

As I said startup repair does not always work, that is why you leave everything where it is, unplug the other 2 drives (just the power cables for now) and run startup repair. If the drive with windows on it "C" then boots on its own then you can carry out the rest of the plan.

Any more questions, just ask :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Drive Letter Configuration Nightmare

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