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External Hard Drive - Assigned Drive Letter Conflict


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#1 mabrowndog


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Posted 14 December 2011 - 04:47 PM

I've been using a Western Digital MyBook 1.5TB external USB hard drive for awhile. Aside from the partitioning and the pre-installed, seemingly-useless SmartWare software, I've had no problems. Even the software isn't an issue, since it doesn't launch anything and the drive still behaves like a plug-and-play device, but it does use up a little bit of space (about 680 MB). However I've just left everything as-is since I started using it. The SmartWare is on the partitioned "H:" drive, which is apparently set up as a CD drive. The writable partition I store stuff on is designated the "I:" drive.

I have a second MyBook that I bought a while ago but hadn't tried using until today. When I plugged it in (leaving the first drive connected), it recognized the SmartWare partition as the "J:" drive. However there was no storage drive letter assigned. So I tried running the SmartWare software to set up the drive, but I got a "No writable WD SmartWare partition found" error message.

Scratching my head, I disconnected the first external drive and tried reconnecting the second one. Again, it recognized the SmartWare partition as the "J:" drive. And this time, there was a writable partition designated as the "I:" drive -- the same letter as the first drive. At that point, when I tried to reconnect my first drive, the computer couldn't find any writable portion even though the partioned "H:" SmartWare drive showed up in my Windows Explorer tree.

Obviously there's a conflict, so I decided to assign a different drive letter to the second (new) drive. I disconnected the first SmartWare drive. Then with the second one still connected, I went into Start > My Computer > Manage > Disk Management, and designated the writable partition as the "R:" drive. Thinking all was well, I reconnected the first drive. I looked for the writable "I:" drive, but once again no writable portion could be recognized.

Flummoxed and worried I'd just lost all my data on that first drive, I disconnected both drives and then hooked the first drive back up. Thankfully all my stuff was still on it. However, to my amazement, the writable partition on the old drive was ALSO assigned the "R:" drive letter, even though I'd made no changes to this specific device and even though the second drive wasn't even connected. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

It appears that somehow my computer thinks the two MyBooks are the same device. Yet when both are connected, I get no warnings or "device conflict" messages in Disk Management or anywhere else on my system. Whichever drive is connected first overrides the presence of the other, even though I can see the SmartWare partitions and their respective drive letters (H and J) plain as day in the Windows Explorer tree.

Any advice and guidance on how to resolve this conflict so I can use both drives simultaneously without losing any of the data on my old drive would be greatly appreciated. FWIW I'm running Windows 7 Pro SP1 (64-bit) on a Lenovo X120e notebook. Thanks in advance.

#2 SumnerH


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Posted 14 December 2011 - 06:55 PM

I've been using a Western Digital MyBook 1.5TB external USB hard drive for awhile. Aside from the partitioning and the pre-installed, seemingly-useless SmartWare software, I've had no problems. Even the software isn't an issue, since it doesn't launch anything and the drive still behaves like a plug-and-play device, but it does use up a little bit of space (about 680 MB). However I've just left everything as-is since I started using it. The SmartWare is on the partitioned "H:" drive, which is apparently set up as a CD drive. The writable partition I store stuff on is designated the "I:" drive.

I have a second MyBook that I bought a while ago but hadn't tried using until today. When I plugged it in (leaving the first drive connected), it recognized the SmartWare partition as the "J:" drive. However there was no storage drive letter assigned. So I tried running the SmartWare software to set up the drive, but I got a "No writable WD SmartWare partition found" error message.

Scratching my head, I disconnected the first external drive and tried reconnecting the second one. Again, it recognized the SmartWare partition as the "J:" drive. And this time, there was a writable partition designated as the "I:" drive -- the same letter as the first drive. At that point, when I tried to reconnect my first drive, the computer couldn't find any writable portion even though the partioned "H:" SmartWare drive showed up in my Windows Explorer tree.

Obviously there's a conflict, so I decided to assign a different drive letter to the second (new) drive. I disconnected the first SmartWare drive. Then with the second one still connected, I went into Start > My Computer > Manage > Disk Management, and designated the writable partition as the "R:" drive. Thinking all was well, I reconnected the first drive. I looked for the writable "I:" drive, but once again no writable portion could be recognized.

Flummoxed and worried I'd just lost all my data on that first drive, I disconnected both drives and then hooked the first drive back up. Thankfully all my stuff was still on it. However, to my amazement, the writable partition on the old drive was ALSO assigned the "R:" drive letter, even though I'd made no changes to this specific device and even though the second drive wasn't even connected. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

It appears that somehow my computer thinks the two MyBooks are the same device. Yet when both are connected, I get no warnings or "device conflict" messages in Disk Management or anywhere else on my system. Whichever drive is connected first overrides the presence of the other, even though I can see the SmartWare partitions and their respective drive letters (H and J) plain as day in the Windows Explorer tree.

Any advice and guidance on how to resolve this conflict so I can use both drives simultaneously without losing any of the data on my old drive would be greatly appreciated. FWIW I'm running Windows 7 Pro SP1 (64-bit) on a Lenovo X120e notebook. Thanks in advance.


1. Make sure they have different disk labels--attach one, right click on it, select Properties, and set the drive label. Detach it and do the same with the other drive, but a different label. See if plugging them both in works now.

2. If that doesn't work, try going to the Disk Management tool (it's under Computer Management or something like that), scroll down to the external drives, and see if they're both there. If they are but one is offline, you might be able to right-click on it and bring it online that way.

It's been a while since I used Windows so hopefully someone else can fill in the exact names of the utilities...

Edited by SumnerH, 14 December 2011 - 06:55 PM.


#3 mabrowndog


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Posted 14 December 2011 - 08:03 PM

By "disk label" I assume you mean the name for each drive? Already did that, but only for the writable partitions. Still no dice.

I can't make any edits whatsoever to either SmartWare partition, which I suspect is because they're formatted like CD drives.

#4 AlNipper49


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Posted 14 December 2011 - 08:28 PM

You can but might need a 3rd party tool to do so.

#5 Max Power


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Posted 14 December 2011 - 08:41 PM

The volume serial number may have been set to the same thing on both drives by that launcher software. When each is connected go to a command prompt and type

vol i:

If they're the same, you need to change one of the two so Windows realizes they're two different drives. There are a few results for software that come up when you search for "volume serial number change." One of those may work.