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Rearranging partition table entries w/o touching data?

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Is there a non-destructive software to change partition types/order? I want to change, without touching or relocating the data, from primary + logical to extended with 2 logicals. This is to solve drive letter shifting.

I guess 1 extended with no primaries would be compatible/failsafe?

BTW: Must partition entries and their corresponding sector ranges be ordered the same? Is it possible to have the data for the first partition physically after the 2nd partition's data?


Besides the above, maybe someone can surmise how the following strange occurence happend...

I booted Win98 with the newly added drive (on a SATA controller, unformatted primary, NTFS formatted extended/logical), expecting it to shift around drive letters. The boot actually failed with an "Abort, Retry, Fail?" sort of message, I think due to the unformatted partition taking up the letter where one driver was supposed to be.

I went to format the partition in another OS and tried booting Win98 again, expecting it to load fine now but with shifted letters. But no, the new partition appeared LAST, despite the other drives each holding PRI+logicals. I attributed this fortunate surprise, with no better explanation, to the drive being SCSI under Windows. A reboot later it was still the same, all good. Or so I thought.

During the format, in anticipation of problems, I was looking for a solution to drive letter shifting. One option was the software "Letter Assigner". Despite the letter assignment being okay in the end I was curious to see how that software works. I installed it, had a look (too many EXEs/VXD/no install log/not enough disclosure for my taste for this type of software), and removed it. The next Win98 boot (after a booting another OS in the middle) I was hit with the drive letter shift. I don't know if "Letter Assigner" did something or what.

Trying to reassign letters in the registry (under HKLM\Enum\SCSI or ESDI) didn't do much, nor did playing with disabling/removing/reinstalling the driver. I suppose it goes based on the int13h order so the driver shouldn't have an effect, but it WAS assigned differently a few reboots earlier, so I'm totally puzzled.

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Partition Magic lets you transform (at least I have the menu here on version 8.0) a primary partition in a logical partition. But for the fact you already have an extended partition, I don't know if the (ex) primary can be integrated as 2nd logical in the extended. I'm not intending to test that now :D .

Now for your "order", it all depends in what order your partitions will be listed. If your program lists partitions in physical order, 1st will always be 1st (I know it's obvious :angel , but it is not clear what your goal is).

If you're talking order they are listed in the disk's MBR, you can can change that with "Ranish Partition Manager" (be cautious). But you can only do that for primaries and extended (I'm talking using Ranish here, I'm sure Jaclaz will come and correct me as he usually does)... I don't see any way to change the order of logical partitions in an extended partition.

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I ended up erasing and recreating the partitions normally since I didn't find anything.

Also it seems actual data rearranging would be needed as turning Primary into Logical would need an extra sector at the beginning for an EMBR (or more than that if head alignment is to be kept). Even if some software has a simple solution to that with minimal data rearranging, it seemed less likely and less straightforward, so I went ahead with the standard destructive approach.

Still curious how I temporarily got the primary partition to get the last drive letter and not one in the middle...

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