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  1. #1
    Moderator Jen's Avatar
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    Default WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    Hi all,

    I've been looking at a PC running WinME that has just been completely reinstalled (not by me) and all the MS updates downloaded. The motherboard drivers have been installed. The only new hardware added was a PCI NIC which works fine.

    The external USB hard drive is recognised by Windows but it never gets a drive letter assigned to it, therefore it does not show under "My Computer". Under the systray "safely remove hardware" icon it shows as "USB device (:)" rather than "USB device (F:)" for example. USB flashpens work OK and get assigned a drive letter by Windows, just not this particular hard drive. It used to work perfectly fine prior to Windows being reinstalled and works OK on a different computer.

    The only other USB device attached is a printer, but the hard drive wasn't being recognised prior to that being added. The only MS knowledge base article I could find refers to spare drive letters being used up, but this is certainly not the case here.

    What I've tried so far is to reboot the machine with the external hard drive turned on, turning it off/on again while Windows is running and added and removed the USB flashpen while the external drive was still plugged in. Nothing seems to get it to assign a drive letter.

    I then got more creative and searched the registry for the key. You could see the device ID data but the drive letter assigned was empty. I exported that key and then deleted it and then allowed Windows to redetect the device. That didn't work. So I then edited the exported key and added a drive letter of "F" to the appropriate section, saved it, and then reimported the key back into the registry. All this did was let the systray tooltip show "USB device (F:)", but it still didn't show under My Computer. I then tried to use Windows Explorer to view F:/ but it said no such drive.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions I could try before resorting to another reformat?

    Thanks. :)

  2. #2
    Madre Dios!!! beeswax34's Avatar
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    So far the problem is limited to the external drive and the printer? Are you absolutely sure that they don't need any other software? Some software might have been re-installed but something could have been missed out.

    I'll have a look a further look at MS' KB
    All the technology and software in the universe is useless when the end user has the IQ of a sack of hammers.

  3. #3
    Moderator Jen's Avatar
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    The USB printer works OK as well. It is just this particular external hard drive.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    first of all, ME sucks :-) but i think you know that

    it was was a system of mine......
    upgrade to XP if it can take it or downgrade to 98 if not.


    the fix for ME and USB drives is often a driver issue.

    if i remember rightly ME cant work with USB drives with out drivers (like 98) but still trys and stuffs it up.
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  5. #5
    Madre Dios!!! beeswax34's Avatar
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    Wait, I assume that the hard drive was used previously, before all the changes and worked perfectly. Is that correct?

    EDIT: Did you try in safe mode?
    All the technology and software in the universe is useless when the end user has the IQ of a sack of hammers.

  6. #6
    Moderator Jen's Avatar
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    Quote Originally Posted by robsonde View Post
    upgrade to XP if it can take it or downgrade to 98 if not.

    the fix for ME and USB drives is often a driver issue.

    if i remember rightly ME cant work with USB drives with out drivers (like 98) but still trys and stuffs it up.
    The computer could run XP, although it would be a bit slow (P3 866MHz and 512MB RAM), but it is perfectly adequate for the owners needs and WinME has not caused them any problems until recently, so there is no real need to buy a new OS disk.

    Quote Originally Posted by beeswax34 View Post
    Wait, I assume that the hard drive was used previously, before all the changes and worked perfectly. Is that correct?

    EDIT: Did you try in safe mode?
    The external drive worked fine prior to Windows being reinstalled and without having to install any special drivers for it (it came with no install disk). I didn't think to try it in safe mode but it should use the same native Windows drivers anyway?

    The reason for the original reinstall was because a USB driver for a new ADSL modem was being installed (they had no NIC at that point) and it completely borked Windows.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    The drive is definitely formated as FAT16 or 32 and not NTFS?

    What happens if you run fdisk? Does it show up in there?

  8. #8
    Moderator Jen's Avatar
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    The drive is FAT32 and it worked fine on this same machine with WinME prior to the reformat.

    I didn't think to try using fdisk but as the registry has an entry for it surely it has been recognised?

    I think another visit is required to try out these additional suggestions.

    I was going to boot up the machine using a Linux LiveCD to see if it found the drive OK, but decided the problem looked more like Windows software than actual hardware faults.

    It is a friends PC and they are not worried if it requires another reformat, but I would hate to do that only to find the problem reoccurs.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    Sometimes removing all items listed under USB Controllers in the Device Manager, restarting and letting it redetect everything can fix problems like this.

  10. #10
    Crossmember feersumendjinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: WinME refusing to assign a drive letter to an external USB drive

    (P3 866MHz and 512MB RAM)
    = USB1(.1)

    The external USB hard drive
    = USB2

    Perhaps a conflict

    I'd agree with Cyabro, worth a try; have heard of USB assignments getting confused, fixed by this.
    Last edited by feersumendjinn; 10-09-2007 at 10:58 PM. Reason: more

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