Tiplord Windows 95 &Windows 98 Tips

Bookmark me Annoyances Boot Disks Customizing Device Manager
FAQ Hardware Networking Setup Switches Shortcuts
Software Help Updates Tip Ring Home

Designate Your Own Drive Letters

There are two ways that disk drives get drive letters on a PC. The first kind are the ones controlled by your BIOS. These usually include your floppy and most hard drives, for which drive letters are created when your system is first turned on. The second kind of drives are controlled by software, or more specifically, drivers. These types of drives include CD-ROMs, Syquests and other removables, network drives, and sometimes SCSI hard disks with ID's other than zero (0) or one (1). Generally, drive letters are assigned to these drives depending on the order in which they are loaded.

In WindowsNT and OS/2, you can choose drive letters for any drive, but Windows95 only allows this configuration for those drives controlled by drivers (the second type). By editing the Registry directly (see Solution #2 below), you should be able to change the drive letter assignments for any type of drive. Note: It is extremely important that you back up your Registry before continuing. Here's how it's done:

Solution #1:

  1. Double-click on the System icon in Control Panel, and click on the Device Manager tab.
  2. Find the device (CD-ROM drive, or otherwise) that you wish to configure from the list, and select it.
  3. Click Properties, and then click the Settings tab.
  4. In the section entitled Reserved drive letters, choose the same letter for both the Start drive letter and End drive letter.
  5. If the Removable option is not checked, and the reserved drive letters listboxes are disabled, check it now. If initially unchecked, make sure to uncheck it again when you're done with this procedure.
  6. You'll have to restart your computer for this change to take effect.

Solution #2 (use with caution, and only if Solution #1 doesn't work):

  1. Run the Registry Editor (REGEDIT.EXE).
  2. Open one of the following branches, depending on the type of device you wish to configure (your system may vary):
  3. For all SCSI devices, and most non-SCSI CD-ROM drives, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Enum\ SCSI.
  4. For IDE hard disks, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Enum\ ESDI.
  5. For standard floppy drives, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Enum\ FLOP.
  6. Expand the branch of the SCSI device you wish to configure, and click on the key under that device (if you have two of the same device, there will be two keys here).
  7. Double-click on the string value called UserDriveLetterAssignment (create it if it's not there by selecting New and then String Value from the Edit menu).
  8. In the box that appears, type the desired drive letter once, in all caps (example: type NN to configure this drive to use N:).
  9. Next, double-click on the string value called CurrentDriveLetterAssignment.
  10. In the box that appears, type the desired drive letter once, in all caps - if this device is partitioned into more than one logical drive, include all drive letters (example: type CEFG to configure this drive to use C:, E:, F:, and G:).
  11. Close the registry editor when finished, and restart your computer immediately for this change to take effect.

Important: neither of these methods will work if the drivers for the device are loaded in CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT, since Windows95 will not have control over these devices. If the devices are supported in Windows95, you should remove the old drivers from these files - see Do I still need CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT? for more information.

Notable exceptions to the above include SCSI controllers with their own BIOS's (like Adaptec's 2940), and any devices with non-standard software drivers.