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As we know that in Windows the partition location is prefixed with [a-z]:, what if there're more than 26 partitions?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 42 down vote accepted

The drive letters you see are simply representations of the physical partitions available and can be represented by other means. You could only have up to 26 drive letters, but you are definitely able to have (and actually use) many more partitions.

In that case, you could link the drive to a directory on your system rather than a drive letter as, since Windows XP at least (and potentially earlier), it has been possible to mount a drive or partition under a directory in Windows. This would mean you could effectively have a folder containing all your drives that are not accessible by drive letter.

You would do this within the Disk Management administrative console.

To get to the console, go to (or right-click on "My Computer" -> "Manage" -> "Disk Management"):

Start > Run and type
diskmgmt.msc

If you right click a partition you would see a Change Drive Letter or Path option which where you can add or remove paths or drive letters for drives.

Mount in drive

As a side not you will want to make sure that the folder that you are using is empty, when you mount a partition to that folder then you will only see the files and folders from that partition and any original files will be invisible. I suspect if you unmount the drive from that folder you will be able to see the original files again, but I don't know for certain.

Weird, I assumed that there would be some kind of limit on how many logical partitions you can have in an extended partition, but I can't actually find anything about it. I know you can only have four primary partitions.

This is an example drive that I have removed the drive letter from and instead assigned to a folder, the files on that drive are now accessible at C:\Temp\Test and the drive no longer has a letter assigned to it:

Enter image description here

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4  
Logical partitions are implemented as a linked list, so there is no theoretical limit to the number you can have. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jun 7 '11 at 8:25
    
@Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams,what's their symbolic name like when 26 letters are used up? –  winuser Jun 7 '11 at 8:26
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@Winuser, the 27th partition would not be able to have a drive letter and so you would have to assign it to a folder as I mentioned in my answer. The Disk Management console allows you to see unassigned partitions and then assign them to a folder as necessary. Have a look at i.technet.microsoft.com/dynimg/IC235918.png for an example of what you would see. –  Mokubai Jun 7 '11 at 8:35
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For what it's worth: If we are talking theoretical limits then there most definitely is such a limit. Each secondary partition takes a minimum of one sector for the partition itself (in these modern times where we don't do pointless cylinder alignment any more) and one (possibly two for some LVM schemes) sector(s) for the partition metadata. Since the container primary partition is limited to 2**32 sectors, at least one theoretical limit on the number of contained secondary partitions is fairly easy to deduce. (-: –  JdeBP Jun 7 '11 at 9:09
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You forgot to specify that mounting volumes as folders only works if the lettered drive is NTFS. –  Synetech Sep 15 '12 at 13:53

Under DOS 3.3 at least you could get drives like [:\ i.e .the ASCII characters after Z.

This was using Novell and setting LASTDRIVE to some high letter.

So there might be a way of getting the 27th partition to have a character name.

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9  
Still can be done in WinNT using subst (which calls DefineDosDevice()), but most GUI programs won't recognize [:\Users and the like :( –  grawity Jun 7 '11 at 10:32
    
I suspect that most programs, period, won't recognize paths such as [:\Users, since the assumption is that drives are marked with a letter. There is, of course, the new style path format that's used for network drives (for example \\ServerName\Path) that came into existence at about the same time as Windows 95 or thereabouts. Not sure if you could map an unlettered drive to such a path for use locally, though. –  RobH May 29 at 16:51
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@grawity: It seems to even let you specify a space as a drive letter. Interesting. –  ultrasawblade May 29 at 17:18

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