Identifying the C: Drive when replacing internal SATA drive

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by laughing buddha productions, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. I have an HP Pavilion desktop m9040n. It came with two Western Digital 320 GB internal SATA drives. One disc is the C: drive with Windows XP and all my applications. The other is the D: drive, just storage.
    I am going to buy a new WD Caviar Black 1TB drive to replace my current D: drive to add more storage space.
    QUESTION: When I open up my PC and take out the drive case, how do I know which of the two identical looking drives is C: and which is D: ? I don't want to replace the C: drive just the D: drive.
    Given the above information, is there any obvious hardware conflicts or other warnings I should be aware of? (I'm watched an HP video on how to physically replace the drives, so no issue there.)
  2. unplug one of them and see if the computer will boot.
    you have 50/50 odds :)
  3. I've usually found the drives installed in order. If they're stacked like pancakes, the C drive is likely to be the top one. If there are more than two slots, C: is likely to be the one furthest away from the empty slots. Incidentally, if there are more than two slots, consider adding another drive, rather than replacing D:, which would give you yet more space and allow you to avoid your question.
    Also, I've generally been able to get free advice from HP even after the end of the warranty. You could ask them about the C: drive and, more important, whether adding a third drive might tax the power supply too much. When I've asked technicians that question, they've always said it's O.K., but I never had your model and don't know your configuration.
    Although I'm sure you know this, I'll add it for the completeness of this thread: if you follow Howard's suggestion, unplug the drive you believe to be D: while the computer is fully shut down, and, if it boots, shut it down again to plug it back in.
  4. Are you certain the second physical drive is labeled "D"? The D drive is usually a partition of the C drive and contains all the recovery software. The second hard drive likely would be labeled "E".
    Also, look at the mother board. There should be at least two SATA sockets, one of which would be labeled "SATA 0" or similar. That's where your C drive is plugged in.
  5. I'd go with Howard's suggestion: unplug power from one drive, and see if the system boots. Once you've sorted it out mark them with a felt-tip pen.
    Some caveats (which may be obvious): disconnect power cord, and wait a good minute before touching anything. Always touch the case first, before touching any electronic component directly. This will help to disperse damaging static charge you're hands might have. For test boot-ups, you don't have to re-assemble completely, you can leave the case open, just keep your hands clear of the insides.
    Likely won't be an issue, but sometimes there is incompatibility in the power plugs: there is an adapter readily available. Take your time easing drives out and in: it can be very crowded. Sometimes the whole drive bay cradle can be loosened. Just take your time.
    Once the new drive is in there and properly plugged, you will likely have to take some steps to get the computer to recognize and format it, unless HP has something to automate the process. At the outset, a check in Windows Explorer will not show the drive. The computer will be aware of the drive, but only at:
    Control Panel|Administrative Tools|Computer Management|Disk Management
    On the lower-right pane you should find your new drive, and some indication that's it's not formatted. Right-click and choose format. Probably best to do full format. The default file system offered will likely be NTFS, which is best bet.
  6. If you look carefully at the motherboard and the SATA sockets that connect to your hard drives, there should be/might be numbers beside each one. Some go 0,1,2,3, or they might start with 1 and go up 2,3,4 etc. The lowest number either 0 or 1 is usually your C:drive.
  7. Mike has it! The drive letter depends on which SATA port on the motherboard is used. There is a separate port and cable for each drive. External eSATA drives are numbered in whatever order the computer finds them. You can set a drive letter with the disk configuraton utility, but it's not always followed. You can select a different boot drive manually by interrupting the startup routine (e.g., press F8).
    IDE drives (older computers) are configured with a jumper on the connecter end of the drive, or with a special cable (it will be marked). You can hang two IDE device on each of two controllers.
  8. usually isnt good enough in this case... seriously, unplugging one and rebooting is the best idea by far.
  9. I didn't suggest the 'look at motherboard' idea because most mobo's are buried inside a mess of wires and sticking your head and a flashlight and maybe a mirror inside and finding the silkscreen label is a whole lot more energy (and risky actually) than this is worthy of. the SATA drives and cables are usually 'right there' when you pop the cover off.
  10. Howard, you're right, there is a risk, which is why grounded wrist straps are recommended when poking around in there. But, if Michael is going to replace a drive, he has to get in there, anyway...
  11. seriously, unplugging one and rebooting is the best idea by far​
    Amen, and it's easy, takes all of 60 seconds (one boot sequence) to sort this out. Just wiggle the power cord out of one of the two drives, leaving it close by, boot the computer, mystery solved.
  12. Unplugging one drive is the easiest. But, depending on your PC and chassis, you may even be able to add the new drive in addition to the existing two - you'll have a C: D: & E: or F: depending on what drive letter the CD/DVD is configured to use.
    You could then dedicate the old D: drive as your PS scratch disk.

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