Disk partitions carry a very important benefit of separating operating system files from other files and keeping all OS related data at one place. Separate partitions are created to separately store other data files, which may include text, audio, video and graphics, for convenience.
As a matter of fact, a disk can have no more than four primary partitions. If more is required, the concept of logical partitions comes into play. For example, a drive can have one primary partition and an extended partition under which four other logical partitions can be created, which makes a total of five partitions. It is important to remember that if only one single partition is present, it cannot be deleted. A system partition, boot partition or a partition containing virtual memory paging file cannot be deleted as well. In a scenario where a partition gets deleted, an empty space or free space is created. The data residing on the deleted partition remains until it is not overwritten single or multiple times.
- Accidental deletion: A partition may get deleted unintentionally while working on file management or due to user’s limited knowledge on the subject
- Virus infection: Malware and viruses are very common reasons for corruption or deletion of a partition. Such malicious software infects the Master Boot Record that contains vital information which enables the operating software to work. These can directly result in loss of data on hard drive or complete removal of a partition
- Installing the operating system: Installing a new operating system on a computer may also result in a loss of existing partition if proper care is not taken in disk formatting
- Damage to partition table: Partition tables are responsible for displaying the drives to the user. Any damage to the table due to sudden power failure, conflicting software issues or a virus infection will result in the partition not been displayed
- Physical damage: This may occur when the machine accidentally falls or a hard object hits the system. In such cases, bad sector or memory unreachable error is likely to occur
Effect of Deletion of a Partition on the System
Based on the manner in which the partition got deleted, there can be varied effects on the system and its performance. Apart from obvious consequences of losing vital information on the system or making it inaccessible, the whole hard disk may crash or the system may not simply work at all. It completely depends on the nature of the damage caused. Here is a rundown on the possible scenarios:
- A physical damage to the hard disk may lead to complete damage of the hardware memory or may make the affected (bad sectors) inaccessible
- A virus attack may lead to corruption of the data and memory location or complete loss of a particular partition. If the malicious software corrupts the Master Boot Record (MBR) or partition table, it renders the affected portion to be inaccessible. Damage to the MBR may also lead to system unable to start at all
- The loss of a partition makes that much amount of memory useless and blockage of that portion
Restore Deleted Partitions in Windows
Possible Ways to Recover the Lost Partition
1. Basic checks or solution (for minor errors that make the partition invisible)
- Go to Start menu > Right click on Computer > Click Manage > Select storage > go to toolbar and select Rescan disks. These steps may show up the lost partition again if the loss was due to a simple error in the partition table
- Go to Start menu > Right click on Computer > Click Manage > Select storage and you may see the partition but the label may be missing. Rename the partition with the desired letter and you may see it appear again
2. Using testdsk.exe
Testdsk.exe is a free-to-use command line tool available to recover lost partitions on Windows. The tool can be downloaded from here. Let’s look at how it works:
- After downloading the file, extract it into a working partition
- Under DOS, run testdsk.exe. Select the drive with lost partition and proceed
- Select INTEL for Windows and Proceed
- Select Analyse to search for lost partition. This lists the current partition table. Look for the missing partitions here
- Select Quick search to proceed. This may show up the lost partition. Select the partition and press “p”. It will list down the files and folders that were present on it. Enter to proceed
- Confirm and select Write to save the files to different partition
- If the Quick search did not yield the correct result, you may also select the Deeper search option to further scan the drive for lost partition
To get detailed instructions and full description of the available options with testdsk.exe, visit this link.
3. Using Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery
The Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery is an effective tool for recovering lost or deleted partitions on the hard drive. Let us look at some of the features available with this tool.
- Drive recovery: In an event of data loss on the hard drive due to reasons discussed in this article, this software can help get back the files. It supports in retrieving 300 file types including photos, documents, data etc.
- Recovery of lost partition: Partitions may be lost due to accidental deletion or uninformed operations done on the hard drive. Those seemingly inaccessible partitions can be recovered using this tool. If that does not achieve success, a Raw Recovery can be initiated which looks the whole disk for lost data
- Recovering accidental loss of disk volumes: In case of unintentional deletion of a volume, this software provides a feature called “Click Here to Search Lost Volumes” that scans whole disk for lost volumes. Once the deleted volume is identified select it and follow the instructions displayed to recover it
Precautions to Avoid Deleted Partitions
Though the article discussed many ways to recover the partitions and data, it is worth to keep in mind few points while operating storage related task, as the recovery process may not always be successful.
1. Be careful while browsing through the Administrative tools and make informed decisions while deleting or creating partitions.
2. Keep a backup power source for the system to prevent an abrupt shutdown of the system that may cause damage to the memory.
3. In an event of taking out the hard disk, handle the hardware with great care to ensure no physical damage is done.
4. Always keep a backup of vital information on external sources such a USB drives.