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Logical drive letter

  • At startup, an operating system assigns letters (C:, D:,…) to partitions. These letters are used by applications and the operating system to locate files on partitions. For example, C:\Program Files\Acronis\Disk Director\DiskDirector.exe.

    You can select action:
    No thank you, I do not want to assign a letter - select this item if you do not want to assign a letter to the partition. You will ba able to assign a drive letter to this partition later from Windows Disk Administrator.
    Yes, I want to assign a logical drive letter to the partition - select item if you want to assign a drive letter to the partition. Then, choose a drive letter from the drop-down list.

  • Note
    • Hard disk partitions are not only assigned letters, but are also numbered. That means some operating system partitions are assigned letters and numbers, in others, only numbers.

    Create, delete and move partition operations, as well as hiding/unhiding a partition and direct letter change may result in problems running applications, opening files (as some shortcuts become unusable) or booting an operating system.

    Therefore, when performing partition operations, you must be careful and remember that each operating system works differently with partition letters. Each OS has its own partition letter assignment rules.

  • Windows 95/95OSR2/98/Me
    Windows 95 (original) assigns partition letters automatically in fixed order, according to these rules:
    • Partition letters start from C: and continue until Z:. C: partition is considered system, i.e. used for OS startup.
    • The first primary active partition found on the first hard disk is assigned C:. If there's no such partition, C: is assigned to the first suitable primary partition
    • Similarly and consecutively, one of the primary partitions from other hard disks is considered. They are assigned D:, E:, etc. (If there is no suitable partition found on the first disk, then C:, D:, etc. are assigned.)
    • Next, all suitable logical partitions are considered in the sequence order on the first, second, third, etc. hard disks. They are assigned E:, F:, G:, for example
    • Finally, in order, letters are assigned to all remaining suitable primary partitions of the first, second, third, etc. disks.

    The Windows 95 OSR2/98/ME partition letter assignment order is almost the same as in original Windows 95, with the following exceptions:
    • Additional type 11 (FAT32), 12 (FAT32 LBA) and 13 (FAT16 LBA) partitions are considered. This is tied to FAT32 and high-capacity hard disk support

    Partition operations in the mentioned operating systems may result in problems running applications, opening files, and other problems if letter assignments change.

    Windows NT/2000/XP
    Windows NT/2000/XP operating systems' initial letter assignment is done automatically: in Windows NT 3.x it's similar to Windows 95, and in Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000/XP similar to Windows 95OSR/98. Windows NT 4.0 does not support FAT32, but assigns letters to such partitions.

    • Please note that letter order in these operating systems can differ depending on the number of hard disks and other disk drives recognized by the BIOS.

    All these operating systems enable you to change initially assigned letters. Partition create, delete and move operations do not affect letters assigned to other partitions. Assigning a partition a new letter or hiding it will prevent only its applications and files from running or opening. Other partitions will not be affected by these operations.

    OS startup problems may appear if you directly change the letter assigned to the system partition or a partition with PAGEFILE.SYS swap file.

    • Hard disk partition letter assignment in various operating systems is further explained in all guide chapters where the partition operations might affect PC operation or booting.