Vista changes drive letter


Meelis Lilbok


I have 3 parititons on my first hard drive
1) XP
2) XP64

Under XP i assigned to 3'd partition drive letter V

Installed Vista x64 to drive V

After Vista was installed, Vista shows this drive as C:!?
Is this normal?

When i boot to XP or XP64 all drive letters are OK

Best regards;

Richard Urban

Yes, it's normal.



Richard Urban
Microsoft MVP Windows Shell/User
(For email, remove the obvious from my address)

R. C. White

Hi, Mex.

Vista has two methods for assigning drive letters, depending on how we
install it.

1. If we boot into WinXP and use Disk Management to assign drive letters,
then insert the Vista DVD and run Vista Setup from within WinXP, Setup can
detect the existing drive letter assignments and respect those. So, if you
run Setup from within WinXP, you should be able to specify that V: will be
Vista's boot volume (where \Windows and all those GBs of operating system
files will reside).

2. If we boot from the Vista DVD, Setup will have no idea what letters have
previously been assigned by WinXP. It will assign the letter C: to its own
boot volume. Then it will assign the next available letter (probably D:) to
the System Partition, where the boot-up process always starts - and which
WinXP probably calls Drive C:.

Either way, the computer is not confused at all. Only we humans get
confused. :^{ Of course, the letters are not permanent and each OS will
see its own assignments and not those of the other systems. Be sure to
assign labels (names) to each volume; these get written to the hard drive
and the volume named "Data" will still be "Data", whether you are booted
into Vista or WinXP, and whether it is Drive X: or Drive Y: at that time.

During and since the Vista beta, I've installed Vista dozens of times. I
almost always have installed from within WinXP or an existing Vista
installation. But when installing Vista Ultimate x64 RTM, I booted from the
DVD, so now Drive C: is my Vista x64 boot volume ("Vista x64" - the second
partition on my second HD) and Drive D: is the System Partition ("SATA
200" - the first partition on that second HD). When I reboot into 32-bit
Vista, Drive C: is the boot volume ("Vista x86" - the 3rd partition on that
second HD) and Drive D: is still the System Partition ("SATA 200"). And I
use Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) in each OS to make sure that my "Data"
volume (3rd partition on the 3rd HD) is always Drive E:, no matter which OS
I'm running.

R. C. White, CPA
San Marcos, TX
(e-mail address removed)
Microsoft Windows MVP
(Running Windows Live Mail 2008 in Vista Ultimate x64)

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