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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Hard Disk Drives | Drive Letter Issues ]

One of my disk volume drive letters isn't accessible any more or isn't visible in Windows Explorer

Explanation: A drive volume letter appears to be "missing" from the system. For example, there may be a C:, D: and E: drive but only C: and D: show up in Windows Explorer.

Diagnosis: Assuming that there isn't a fault with the hard disk itself, the problem here is likely that the drive letter has been hidden by the operating system for one reason or another.

Recommendation:

  • Make sure that the drive letter really does exist, and there isn't a physical disk problem. If none of the drive letters of a physical disk are showing up, the problem is likely with the disk, so troubleshoot it.
  • See if the drive letter shows up when you boot to plain DOS. If it does, then this is likely a hidden drive letter problem.
  • If you try to set up a disk with two primary partitions, using something like Partition Magic (since this cannot be done with normal partitioning software like FDISK) then one of the partitions will be hidden when you boot up.
  • If you've installed the "TweakUI" applet (part of Microsoft's "PowerToys" add-on for Windows 95) then you should open it and look under the "My Computer" tab. You will find a checkbox for every drive letter, which lets you hide that drive from the "My Computer" display and the Windows Explorer. Make sure nothing is being hidden here.
  • If you are using disk compression, and you decided to compress all or most of the host drive, then the operating system may hide the host drive letter (since it would be full from containing the compressed volume, and therefore not useful). Compression software can also play tricks such as remapping or changing drive letters. You can unhide a hidden compressed volume host disk by running the compression software utility, which is normally called DriveSpace if you are using Microsoft's compression facilities.

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