Import drive letters for use after reinstall?


The OP did not ask about any of that.
You can have batch scripts recognise a volume label and use that to find out the drive's current drive letter for the rest of the script to use. I run such scripts almost every day.
GetDriveLetter-SubRoutine - my post #5 - ElevenForum


Denis
Fair enough, maybe he did not specify the need, but shouldn't that have been mentioned to him?
The fact you need to use a dedicated batch script to recognize the drive because the label alone won't do, proves my point.
 
Last edited:

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proves my point
All I said was
If you give them each drive labels then they remain constant over time & with different computers.
and you took issue with that
What about batch scripts...
Therefore the drive letter must match the assigned path.
so I explained how to make use of the label in batch scripts. I have not made any other claims.


All the best,
Denis
 

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All the best Denis,

OAT
 

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There are some apps that will allow you to use the volume label only to reference a drive. The one notable one that comes to mind is "FreeFileSync". It does this specifically to avoid drive letter dependency. It (as well as many other programs) will also allow reference to a drive via the drive GUID rather than a drive letter. Yes, these are exceptions, but they do exist.

However, back to the original topic: If you really, really need to save the drive letters, you could save them from the registry and reimport that on your new install.

CAUTION! - This could be dangerous. I do not suggest doing this, but it should be possible. But, to my thinking, this would be way more work than just assigning the drive letter yourself after installing Windows. For info on where these registry entries are held, see this tutorial:

 

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I have the same drive used on different computers and I set its drive letter to be the same on them all.
I have always done this manually and thought there was no choice.
Their
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
values are the same on two computers e.g.
drive S.png

So H's suggestion might well work.

I'll check my other computers to see if it really is constant.


Denis
 

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As far as I know a reinstall doesnt alter the volume guids of the non windows volumes. I havent tested, but you could try exporting the current \DosDevices\ from the mounted devices key. Open the reg file and delete the entry for the os letter. Then after the reinstall delete the non os entries from the new mounted dev key and merge the reg file.

Does a DeviceID/GUID for a partition change after Windows reinstall or is it unique/static?

The situation might be different after an image restore - particularly if the whole disk or several volumes are restored.
 
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Screenshot 2024-02-07 203834.jpg


I can see where that would be useful.
But what are the binary values in HEX? Are they pointers to a position on the disk(s) itself?
This is a bit over my head there.
 

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    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. TUF Gaming FX705GM
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    2.20 gigahertz Intel i7-8750H Hyper-threaded 12 cores
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    1TB 5400RPM
As far as I know a reinstall doesnt alter the volume guids of the non windows volumes. I havent tested, but you could try exporting the current mounted devices key. Open the reg file and delete the entry for the os letter. Then after the reinstall merge the reg file.

I do know that the GUID remains the same, so this should work, in theory. But again, I stress caution when mucking with the registry like this :-)

A VM would be a good place to test this. Another advantage of a VM is that you can create a checkpoint and revert back if the world collapses after a registry change.

Another possibility would be to write a script that run a few commands (most likely diskpart commands), parse the output for the GUID and drive letter and save that info, then another script that use that info to assign the same drive letters on the new installation of Windows.

Again, seems like a lot of work for what can be done manually in seconds, but then again, I have often been known to do things the hard way myself :-)
 

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Doesnt matter as long the os entry is correct. The other dosdevice letter entries can be deleted and windows will generate them on reboot.

Try it for yourself.
 

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Doesnt matter as long the os entry is correct. The other dosdevice letter entries can be deleted and windows will generate them on reboot.

Try it for yourself.
Good info. Thanks!
 

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I exported the
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
key from one computer and deleted all but the drive S entry from the .reg file
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices]
"\\DosDevices\\S:"=hex:44,4d,49,4f,3a,49,44,3a,6c,97,3a,17,ea,6a,53,46,9d,66,\
aa,ac,5b,33,9b,57

I then imported the .reg onto another computer that had no S drive entry and had never seen the S drive disk.
The S drive entry appeared in the
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
key as you'd expect.

I then connected the relevant disk and it was indeed seen as S.
Drive S recognised.png

Added later - I have now repeated this procedure for another computer that had no S drive set and had also never seen my S disk. It worked for it as well.
The method works across both Windows 10 & Windows 11.


Spiffing.

Now I'll be able to decide if I want to make use of this method when setting up new computers [next new one due about 2028].
Thanks, Hannes.


Denis
 
Last edited:

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After a new installation, is there a way to automatically assign all external hard drives the drive letters they had in the old installation?
Yes.

See my last post for an example.
You'd have to be comfortable with messing about inside Registry exported .reg files but they are more awkward than difficult.
And you might prefer to create the 'exported' .reg file using reg commands to more quickly arrive at the required result than the manual editing I did for my test.
Reg - SS64
I'd expect the best bet to be writing the individual "\\DosDevices\\S:"= nnnnnnnnnnn
etc entries using Reg Query commands and manipulating the outputs into the syntax needed for importing the results using a Reg Add command.

I only tried this method because of H's post. It had never occurred to me that the entries would be constant across computers let alone that Windows would react obediently to artificially-written entries [this is not always the case].


Denis
 
Last edited:

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I exported the
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
key from one computer and deleted all but the drive S entry from the .reg file
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices]
"\\DosDevices\\S:"=hex:44,4d,49,4f,3a,49,44,3a,6c,97,3a,17,ea,6a,53,46,9d,66,\
aa,ac,5b,33,9b,57

I then imported the .reg onto another computer that had no S drive entry and had never seen the S drive disk.
The S drive entry appeared in the
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
key as you'd expect.

I then connected the relevant disk and it was indeed seen as S.
View attachment 86352

Added later - I have now repeated this procedure for another computer that had no S drive set and had also never seen my S disk. It worked for it as well.
The method works across both Windows 10 & Windows 11.


Spiffing.

Now I'll be able to decide if I want to make use of this method when setting up new computers [next new one due about 2028].
Thanks, Hannes.


Denis
Neat little trick but I'm curious. Is it showing the drive as drive S because it was originally assigned the letter S or would it show whatever the first drive is that got connected as drive S.
 

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    16GB (8GB PC4-19200 DDR4 SDRAM x2)
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Windows has been known to lose drive letters assignments from time to time.
So this method might have a use beyond setting up new computers. It could be used quite routinely to restore configurations.
 

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Is it showing the drive as drive S because it was originally assigned letter S
It is showing S because that's what the Registry entry tells it to for that piece of hardware.
would it show whatever the first drive is that got connected as drive S
I have also connected another disk instead and it quite correctly shows its own drive letter not S.
But if my intended S disk was not connected and I happened to connect umpteen other USB drives, Windows would allocate S to one of them when that was the next letter in turn. The intended S would then get assigned whatever letter was next in line if I connected it again whilst the other one was still there.


Denis
 
Last edited:

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CAUTION! - This could be dangerous. I do not suggest doing this, but it should be possible. But, to my thinking, this would be way more work than just assigning the drive letter yourself after installing Windows. For info on where these registry entries are held, see this tutorial:
Many thanks. So one "just" needed to copy that part with the drive letters of the registry and replace the same part of the registry of another Win. That's it? It actually doesn't sound that complicated / complex. But actually I think that maybe it isn't.

As far as I know a reinstall doesnt alter the volume guids of the non windows volumes. I havent tested, but you could try exporting the current \DosDevices\ from the mounted devices key. Open the reg file and delete the entry for the os letter. Then after the reinstall delete the non os entries from the new mounted dev key and merge the reg file.
This is a different approach than the above one?

You'd have to be comfortable with messing about inside Registry exported .reg files but they are more awkward than difficult.
OK, many thanks, I am not at all but perhaps I will try it.

Many thanks!
 

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  • OS
    Win 11
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    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo IdeaPad 3 17ABA7 Laptop - Type 82RQ (Lenovo IdeaPad 3 82RQ003EGE)
    Memory
    16 GB
You'd have to be comfortable with messing about inside Registry exported .reg files but they are more awkward than difficult.
perhaps I will try it

When you delete the stuff that you are not interested in you have to keep the first line
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
and the blank line after that.
You also need to keep the line identifying the Registry Key
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices]
and then you can delete everything except those lines that you want that begin
"\\DosDevices\\
So you'll get something in the pattern of my post #32.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices]
"\\DosDevices\\S:"=hex:44,4d,49,4f,3a,49,44,3a,6c,97,3a,17,ea,6a,53,46,9d,66,\
aa,ac,5b,33,9b,57


Denis
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Home x64 Version 23H2 Build 22631.3447
It is showing S because that's what the Registry entry tells it to for that piece of hardware.

I have also connected another disk instead and it quite correctly shows its own drive letter not S.
But if my intended S disk was not connected and I happened to connect umpteen other USB drives, Windows would allocate S to one of them when that was the next letter in turn. The intended S would then get assigned whatever letter was next in line if I connected it again whilst the other one was still there.


Denis
I don't think you fully understood what I was asking or I'm not fully understanding your answer. What I was asking is if you hadn't connected the S drive first would the first drive you connected get it's own drive letter or would it automatically be assigned the drive letter S. I'm not planning on doing anything like that. I was just being curious.
 

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  • OS
    Windows 11 Canary Channel
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    PC/Desktop
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    PowerSpec B746
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-10700K
    Motherboard
    ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ax
    Memory
    16GB (8GB PC4-19200 DDR4 SDRAM x2)
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI
    Sound Card
    Realtek Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SAM0A87 Samsung SAM0D32
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    NVMe WDC WDS100T2B0C-00PXH0 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB
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    750 Watts (62.5A)
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    PowerSpec/Lian Li ATX 205
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    Logitech K270
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    Logitech M185
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    Microsoft Edge and Firefox
    Antivirus
    ESET Internet Security
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    PC/Desktop
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    PowerSpec G156
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    Intel Core i5-8400 CPU @ 2.80GHz
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    AsusTeK Prime B360M-S
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    16 MB DDR 4-2666
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    Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe
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    Logitek K270
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Denis, thanks for doing the heavy lifting and doing the initial testing. I'll have to make note of this for "bag of tricks", although I have to admit I'm not really sure if I will ever use it.
 

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System One System Two

  • OS
    Win11 Pro 24H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Kamrui Mini PC, Model CK10
    CPU
    Intel i5-12450H
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    No GPU - Built-in Intel Graphics
    Sound Card
    Integrated
    Monitor(s) Displays
    HP Envy 32
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1440
    Hard Drives
    1 x 2TB NVMe SSD
    1 x 4TB NVMe SSD
    1 x 4TB 2.5" SSD
    PSU
    120W "Brick"
    Keyboard
    Corsair K70 Mechanical Keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1Gb Up / 1 Gb Down
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
  • Operating System
    Win11 Pro 23H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkBook 13x Gen 2
    CPU
    Intel i7-1255U
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel Iris Xe Graphics
    Sound Card
    Realtek® ALC3306-CG codec
    Monitor(s) Displays
    13.3-inch IPS Display
    Screen Resolution
    WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
    Hard Drives
    2 TB 4 x 4 NVMe SSD
    PSU
    USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 Power / Charging
    Mouse
    Buttonless Glass Precision Touchpad
    Keyboard
    Backlit, spill resistant keyboard
    Internet Speed
    1Gb Up / 1Gb Down
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    WiFi 6e / Bluetooth 5.1 / Facial Recognition / Fingerprint Sensor / ToF (Time of Flight) Human Presence Sensor

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