Partition Recovery

By: James Walsh

Creating partitions is basically perceived as a helpful method of logically categorizing your data in accordance with level of importance, date, size and necessity of usage. In short, the interior physical disk is divided into many logical mini disks or cubicles - the actual term commonly used is 'logical volumes'. These volumes include the MBR i.e. The Master Boot Record and several Extended Partition Pointers - EPPs. These volumes are fundamentally utilized to hold information about the structure and function of the disk including the location of saved data. MBR and EPPs occupy 512 bytes i.e. one sector or volume each. These volumes contain machine codes responsible for the booting process of the computer and layers of separation called partitions. There are technically two types of partitions:

  • Primary Partition which is located in the MBR sector

  • Logical Partition located in the EPP block or sector


Both these partitions are collectively termed as 'the partition table', while the logical partitions in the EPP block form the extended partition. Modern data storage devices feature partition tables and use them extensively for data storage. Some of their major attributes include:
  • Some hard drives may have only primary volumes with no extended partitions present.

  • Some drives contain only one primary volume and one logical drive with a traditional non-chained extended partition record

  • A drive may possess one primary volume and two extended joined or chained partition records

  • Drive MBR may contain four primary partitions and a pointer to EPR

  • Drive EPR usually has four extended partition chain forks enabling data storage in sequential order

Partition tables can be damaged or corrupted due to varied reasons. Technically, this is a hard drive failure and can be repaired with proper software. But data recovery experts argue that if unsure about the structure and function of the used storage device including technical knowledge about the partition, a user should not attempt to recover data from collapsed partitions. Data recovery experts at Disklabs further argue that partitions are fragile structures and any improper function of recovery could further corrupt them. The first step to successful recovery in cases of partition corruption is the identification of the exact cause.
  • Information overload or too many commands at one time: A user could issue many commands at a single moment. This could cause the primary and logical volumes to simply disappear or collapse. The computer disk manager in such cases usually shows either unallocated space or flashes a strange unreadable message causing panic in the user.

  • Partition damage may occur when the system refuses to boot. Instead of booting up, the system flashes messages similar to "Bad or missing partition table", "Error loading operating system"

  • Partition collapse also occurs when data gets saved on to "Phantom" volumes or free space areas on the disk. This usually happens when the user tries to save a lot of data on the hard drive - data amount exceeds the total storage capacity of the drive. The drive is unable to save on real partitions anymore and creates unreal or phantom drives which do not really exist.

Successful partition recovery involves the recovery of the volumes containing data in their original size and format. Usually, the drive is taken to the data recovery experts who first identify the cause of the corruption. As a second step, they ascertain whether the disk was partitioned as a single logical drive. If it was, the recovery becomes more simple and efficient - the missing volume occupies the whole physical drive. The data recovery experts then make use of the filesystem recovery algorithm tool to complete the recovery process. However, partition recovery becomes complicated when multiple volumes are involved. This causes the volumes to disappear and not appear to the disk manager indicating an internal structural damage to the drive MBR.
FILERECOVERY Professional Partition Recovery Tool: This partition recovery tool is used by data recovery companies to recover lost partitions, boot sectors or other file system components. It is used for the detection of drives even if they are not visible in Explorer. The tool is equipped with a display feature enabling a user to know and be aware of the various partitions, directories and volumes present on the drive. File recovery also comes with a built-in search feature making finding files much easier.


Data Recovery
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