New Subscriber Mike wrote with an interesting question about maxing out the drive connections in Windows 7:
I have a large computer with 5 resident hard drives and two CD/DVD drives. There is a mid sized zoo of remote ESATA, USB2/3 drives off hubs plus an assortment of backup USB sticks. Is Windows 7 limited to 25 drive letters? (B still seems to be reserved for the old 5.25″ drives, even tho none of the current bios’ will mount one). The reason I ask is that I’ve had trouble lately with drives that sometimes will not mount when turned on/plugged in.
This is particularly true of an ESATA (external) drive that now insists that it be turned on and the compute rebooted to be recognized. This was not true in the past.
Thanks for any help you can render here.
Mike in Peterboro
I haven’t run into this except, perhaps, peripherally. I’ve had the problem of a flash drive that would not be recognized by Windows 7 when it was inserted into a USB port. The drive wasn’t bad.
My problem was that Windows 7 remembered assigning that drive letter to another device and was reserving it for the other device. It also remembered previously using that USB device on the same drive letter, and was trying to use it. Unfortunately, there was no warning of the conflict (probably because the other device was not present at the time — if it had been connected at the time, Windows would have gone ahead and assigned another drive letter to the drive being connected.
The easiest fix, for most people, would be to use the Windows feature to assign specific drive letters to specific devices. That way, when a specific device was connected, it would show up with its assigned drive letter. Mike has apparently already gone down that route, since he’s wanting to know if there is a limit on the number of drive letters.
Unfortunately, Windows 7 can use A through Z for drive letters. No multiple letters. No letter-plus-number. Why build it that way? Remember Bill Gates old comment “nobody will ever need more than 640K memory.”
So, what can Mike do?
One thing is make sure he’s using the right sequence. All external hard drives have a non-instantaneous spin-up time, as the drivers go from 0 RPM to 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM or whatever revolutions per minute the spin. Some drives have to reach their proper rotational speed before they’re connected to Windows in order to be recognized.
He could remove the pre-assigned drive letters and just live with the problem.
After removing the pre-assigned drive letters, he could run a Windows Registry cleaner. Hopefully, that would remove any lingering issues. I would run the Registry cleaner when I did not have any of those removable devices connected to the computer.
Although I use PC Pitstop’s PCMatic for Windows maintenance, I would consider PC Pitstop’s Optimize for this problem. Why? PCMatic’s choices are pretty much are "do this type of task, or don’t do it." Optimize, on the other hand, does fewer different types of tasks, but it provides much more detailed information about what it finds and more granular control of the changes it can make. Both can be downloaded for free, will scan for free, and require license purchase if you want the program to actually make changes to your computer.