How to Easily Recover Data From a Deleted Partition on Mac

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Losing or deleting a whole partition by mistake can be quite overwhelming, especially if you have no idea how to recover it or the data stored there. But don’t panic just yet. Luckily, there are quick and simple ways to recover partitions on Mac. So even if you’re not a tech-savvy person, you should be able to successfully retrieve all of your lost data.

Here’s everything you should know about Mac partitioning, including step-by-step instructions on recovering deleted partitions.

Mac Partition Types Explained

Partitioning basically means splitting an internal or external hard drive into separate storage systems. By doing it, you’ll also be splitting the HDD capacity between those systems (but you can adjust the partition size when creating it). Many choose to partition their Macs specifically to be able to use two different operating systems on their device at the same time.

When you partition your hard drive, you get the option of choosing the needed format, which is why it is important to be aware of the partition types. There are three types of Mac partitions (also known as partition schemes):

  • APFS (Apple File System) — This is the default file system for Macs that run macOS 10.13 High Sierra or later. It offers higher speeds, stronger encryption, and better data handling compared to HFS+. It is an excellent option for Macs that run newer macOS versions and for SSDs.
  • HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) — This file system is used with older macOS versions (macOS 10.12 or earlier). You can still use it if you want. It’s a good option for older Macs or for cross-compatibility (when you have an old Mac that doesn’t support APFS and a new Mac). But otherwise, it is recommended to use APFS since it comes with many essential features.
  • MS-DOS (FAT) and exFAT — These file systems are a great option if you plan on using the partitioned hard drive to share files across macOS and Windows platforms. FAT is used for volumes over 32 GB and exFAT for the ones that are 32 GB or less in size.

Important: If you decide to change the partition scheme type, make sure you have a backup available. Once you format your partition, all of the data located there will get erased.

You can edit the disk partition on your Mac via Disk Utility. Everything that needs to be done with the partitions can be completed through this app: adding new partitions, formatting them, repartitioning, deleting partitions, etc.

To perform any of these actions, you should do the following:

  1. Head to Launchpad and open Disk Utility.
  2. Choose the needed partition from the left side menu.
  3. Click the Partition icon on the menu at the top of the screen.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions depending on what edits you want to make.
    how to edit partitions on Mac via disk utility

How to Recover Data From a Deleted Partition on Mac

To recover a partition on Mac, you need to use specialized third-party software. There are many excellent applications to choose from, but after testing some of those apps, we recommend you to try out Disk Drill.

Disk Drill has a user-friendly interface, making it very straightforward to use compared to other partition recovery Mac software. If you want to recover only some specific files from the deleted Mac partition, this app should handle it perfectly. And this app supports all disk partition types and file formats.

If you’ve never used Disk Drill before, you need to download and install the app before moving further. Head to the official Disk Drill page and click Download. Then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.

Now you can move on to the main part. Follow these steps to recover deleted partition data on your Mac using Disk Drill:

  1. If you want to recover data from a deleted partition from an external hard drive on your Mac, then connect the drive to your computer. Skip this step if you’re trying to recover data from an internal HDD partition.
  2. Launch Disk Drill.
  3. From the sidebar, click Storage devices. Look for your external (internal) hard drive on the list and click it. Click Recover at the bottom-right corner.
    how to recover data from Mac partition via Disk Drill
  4. If you want to scan the unpartitioned disk space for lost data, then click it instead. It should be titled as Unallocated or something similar. Then click Search for lost data.
  5. Wait for the scan to finish. You can preview the found files by clicking the eye icon next to it. Place a checkmark near the files that you wish to restore, and when ready, click Recover to recover deleted partition files on Mac.
    recover lost files from partition on Mac disk drill

How to Recover the Entire Partition on a Mac

If you’ve accidentally deleted a partition and wish to recover it, you can use TestDisk — it is free to use, open-source, and available across multiple platforms. It can become useful with different tasks, such as recovering data from a RAW hard drive, making non-booting disks bootable again, etc. However, this tool doesn’t have a graphical interface and is not as user-friendly as one might hope.

If you need to restore a partition on Mac, follow these instructions:

  1. Install TestDisk on your Mac. You’ll be able to do it only after you install Homebrew (a software package management system). To do it, launch Terminal and copy-paste this command:
    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)" 

    how to install TestDisk on Mac

  2. Hit Return and type in your user password when prompted. Then hit Return once again to finish the installation process. Once Terminal says that the tool is installed, copy-paste this command to install TestDisk on your Mac and hit Return:
    brew install testdisk
  3. Run TestDisk via Terminal. To do it, simply enter this command:
    sudo testdisk
  4. You’ll be asked to choose whether to create a new log file or not. The first option s is recommended since it’ll let you view all the tasks that are being completed by the tool, but it’s up to you to choose.
    using TestDisk on Mac to recover a lost partition
  5. Choose the drive you wish to scan and select the partition table type. Then choose the Analyse function (analyze current partition structure and search for lost partitions).
  6. Begin the Quick Search.
    use TestDisk to recover lost partitions on Mac
  7. Once the scan is finished, you’ll see a list of all recoverable partitions. If you’ve found the needed one, select it, and hit Return to start the Mac partition recovery process. Then choose Write to save the partition structure.
  8. If the tool hasn’t spotted your lost partition, try doing a Deeper Search. There is a chance that a deeper scan is needed to reveal the partition.

How to Repair Corrupted Partition

If your partition is damaged and needs to be fixed, you can repair the partition on your Mac without the help of third-party apps. Basically, you have two options here: to repair the partition map on Mac using Disk Utility or to format the partition.

Here are step-by-step instructions for both of the options.

Option #1: Repair the Partition Map Using Disk Utility

Since Disk Utility is the main partitioning tool for Mac, you can use it to fix a corrupted partition directly on your computer. So if your partition isn’t working properly because of a damaged partition map, this tool should be able to take care of it.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Head to Launchpad and click Disk Utility to launch the app. If you are trying to repair a partition that’s located on your startup disk, it is best to boot into Recovery mode and only then launch Disk Utility.
  2. From the sidebar, look for the needed partition and click it.
  3. From the top menu, click First Aid.
    how to fix a partition via Disk Utility
  4. A popup will appear asking you whether you want to run this tool on your hard drive. Click Run to confirm.

Once the repair process is finished, you’ll get another popup notifying you about it. Just click Done, and you’re all set.

Option #2: Format the Hard Drive Partition

If nothing helps and your partition still isn’t functioning properly, you can try to fix it by formatting the partition.

But before you do it, it is recommended to make a backup of your partition (of course, if you store important files there). When you format your partition, all of the data located there will get erased. So, once you have a backup of your files and are sure that there’s nothing important stored on that partition, you can safely format it.

Here’s how to format the partition on Mac:

  1. Head to Launchpad and launch Disk Utility.
  2. Click the needed partition on the sidebar.
  3. Click Erase from the top menu.
    how to format a partition on Mac
  4. Type in a new name for your partition and choose the needed format. Click Erase to confirm.
    how to format partition on Mac
  5. Once the process is finished, click Done.

FAQ

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Romana Levko is a professional content writer with a strong interest in tech-related topics. Her main focus is on data recovery, Apple products, and cybersecurity. She spends her free time tinkering with her Mac and burning through her favorite music albums.
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12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.