Partition Recovery Concepts

What to do? When:

  • Partition is not visible (disk is attached, but you don't see a drive letter in file explorer)
  • Partition is not accessible (volume is visible, but Operating System pops up an error when accessing it)
  • Partition is not bootable (Operating System fails to start properly)

The most common causes of partition issues:

  • Physical damage of critical sectors on a HDD (known as unreadable or 'bad sectors')
  • Loss of information due to an electrical failure or power surge
  • Accidental deletion of the logical drive/partition
  • Accidental formatting of the logical disk/partition
  • Damage of the MBR, Partition Table, Volume Boot Sectors by a software virus or malware
  • Improper use or execution failures of backup/recovery software tools

When the volume is damaged it usually displays one of the following symptoms:

  • Original partition/drive is no longer visible to the Operating System (deleted, damaged, or overwritten)
  • Partition/Volume is visible but important files/folders are not visible (drive re-formatted or damaged)

In both cases partition recovery software must analyze the surface of the physical drive for residual logical data and organization clues in order to reconstruct the partition/drive parameters (such as the first sector number, cluster size, file system type, etc.).

After a user obtains an access to this virtual drive, he is able to re-create partition (recover partition information) or just to copy lost data to another drive (with use of a file recovery program).

Volume Recovery Procedures:

Examples of low level partition damage and recovery procedures

We assume that you have some knowledge of a HDD and the File System's organization to be able to understand the data recovery terminology and examples above. If not, please read about Hardware and Disk Organization first.