Partitioning a hard drive comes with many benefits. This includes being able to run more than one operating system on a single computer, the ability to have one partition for more confidential data while the other could be more casual, or you may have multiple people using the same computer and want your data to be kept separate.
Whatever the case may be, deleting a partition will delete with it any data that is on it. You may have deleted a partition and then realized that you shouldn’t have as there were important files on it. Can you recover a deleted partition? The short answer is yes!
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Why the Partition May Be Deleted
Most of the time when a partition is missing or deleted, it is not done by the user but is the cause of some other sort of event. The most common and main reasons that your partition could either have been lost or is not showing up anymore are:
- Accidental deletion
- Partitioning error
- Power failure
- OS update
- Partition table corruption
- Hardware failure
- Firmware Issues
Unless the hard drive has experienced physical damage, the partition should be recoverable. The quicker that you act, the higher of a chance that you have of successfully recovering the missing partition and the data that is on it.
How to Recover Specific Files from a Deleted Windows Partition
It’s good to recover what files you can before implementing any fixes, as each action performed on the lost partition puts your data at risk of being overwritten. In such cases where you only need to recover specific files from a lost partition, you can use Disk Drill.
Disk Drill is a data recovery tool that can discover your lost partition, as well as recover data from it, all with only a few clicks. Follow the below steps to recover specific files from the partition.
Keep in mind that when installing Disk Drill you will have the best chance of success by installing it onto an external device such as an external hard drive or thumb drive. We want to maintain wear and tear on the storage device that we’re trying to recover data from so that the data on it is not overwritten.
Scan your Windows computer.
After launching Disk Drill, making the Data Recovery tab active will show us all of the devices/disks that are connected to our windows machine. To start a scan, click on the “Search for last data” option in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.
View the recovered data.
As our computer is being scanned, we can see that Disk Drill will start displaying the lost information that it has found with our partition being one of those items! You can wait for the scan to finish or click “Review found items” in the upper right-hand corner and any files if you need them right away.
Choose what to recover.
Clicking on the lost partition, I can view the files that are located on it that Disk Drill has been able to recover for me. I am only looking to recover certain files off of it as there were some photos that I want to recover and put back onto my computer.
Preview selected files before recovering.
I can double-click on a file to enter the “preview” mode and look at the image before recovering it. Once I have found and decided what files I want to recover, I can check the boxes in the lower right-hand corner as seen in the screenshot below. This helps with those files that don’t have a specific name tailored to them.
Recover your missing data.
I can then click “Recover” and Disk Drill will take just a few moments for the deleted files to be back on my computer after I specify the location of the folder I want the files restored to.
Verify the recovery was successful.
After the recovery has finished, Disk Drill will give me a confirmation notification along with the option to open the folder I chose for recovery.
How to Confirm the Partition Was Deleted
While some partition types can’t be deleted at all, most can be. You can not delete partitions such as boot volumes, recovery partitions, OEM partitions, the volume where the page file is located, crash dump files, and hibernation files. When you go into Disk Management and try to delete it if the option is greyed out it is because it falls under one of these categories. If you do have the option to delete one, make sure that you know what files are located on the partition before proceeding.
To be sure that your partition is deleted, you can use the below methods to actually check whether the partition is still present or not.
Assign or Change Drive Letter
Windows automatically assigns drive letters to storage devices you connect to your computer. If the drive letter has dropped, or if Windows failed to assign one, assigning a drive letter may be enough to restore access to the partition. Moreover, changing the existing drive letter if one is assigned may also rectify the issue.
Check S.M.A.R.T. Data
Your drive’s S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) gives you an indication of your drive’s health. Checking this data can alert you to any problems that have arisen.
If the command returns OK for all drives, everything is healthy. If it returns Bad, Caution, or Unknown, then something is wrong with your drive. This could be logical corruption, physical damage, or bad sectors. Regardless of the damage, it needs to be addressed before you can use your partition again.
Scan for Malware
Malware has the unfortunate ability to inflict various forms of damage to your computer. If your computer has been infected with a virus, it could have attacked your system and compromised your data. Scan your computer with Windows Security to be sure.
Confirm the Disk Is Initialized
Before a drive can be partitioned, it first needs to be initialized. If the drive is marked as Not Initialized, it means either the drive is missing a valid disk signature (because it has never been initialized and formatted) or the formatting has broken due to corruption. Checking this allows you to plan what your next steps will be.
Restore Unallocated Space
In some cases where your partition has disappeared, it may have been replaced with what’s known as unallocated space. Unallocated space is space that hasn’t been formatted with a file system, rendering it unusable. If your partition has been damaged, it could have reverted back to unallocated space. Therefore, before you can use it again, you must format it with a file system.
Follow these instructions to format the unallocated space with a file system so you can use it again.
How to Rebuild the Master Boot Record (MBR)
Your MBR is the first sector of your drive. It’s responsible for locating where the operating system is on your drive so that it can be loaded. If your MBR has suffered from some form of logical damage like corruption, this could result in your computer failing to boot into Windows 10 if it was a system drive. Partitions that are simply used for storage will disappear.
Let’s look at two effective ways to repair your MBR.
Repair MBR Using AOMEI Partition Assistant
The AOMEI Partition Assistant makes repairing your MBR easy. For non-technical users, this is the preferred method as it only requires a few clicks. However, this method is only possible if you can actually boot into your computer or you remove the affected hard drive and insert it into a working computer for repair.
Repair MBR Using Command Prompt
If the drive that hosts your operating system is the one that suffers from a corrupted MBR, and you can’t remove the drive to repair it on another machine, then you will need a bootable USB or DVD that contains the WinPE environment.
How to Recover the Entire Partition Using TestDisk
If you’re recovering a partition that’s simply used for data storage, you can use TestDisk to recover the entire partition, as well as the data on it. TestDisk is an open-source partition recovery tool. It’s trusted in the recovery community for its efficiency and favored by many because it’s free. It can scan your drive for any lost partitions and recover them to their original state.
How Can I Protect My Partition From Going Missing?
- Make a backup of your computer’s internal/external hard drives. You can plug in an external hard drive and use the Windows backup feature to prevent this from happening from here on out. Windows backup comes installed with your windows machine and is free to use. You can get reliable SSD backups that can be thrown into a bag as they don’t have moving parts for fairly reasonable prices these days. Making sure that your computer uses SSDs, in general, are more reliable than spinning hard drives.
- If a power surge was the cause of the partition issue, invest in a surge protector. They offer protection against power surges and most distance lightning strikes. While they can’t protect against direct lightning strikes, they do a good job of offering protection against everything else.
- If you’re using a laptop, make sure that you’re using the charger that came from the manufacturer! Yes, getting one from a 3rd party vendor may save you some money in the long run, but it is not worth the frustration of losing precious files and photos.
- If you do notice that your partition or other data is missing, don’t load new files onto your computer as this can overwrite them and make them unrecoverable. Also, make sure you do the data recovery as soon as you notice that the partition is no longer there to ensure that you have the highest chance of recovering your data.
Knowing how to recover a lost partition or the data off of it, is a valuable skill to know as computers do fail and mistakes do happen. With the right tools and knowledge though, you have a better chance of recovering your data should that happen.