Recovering lost partitions is a tricky thing to do. One wrong step could result in you losing all your precious data. With this caution in mind, let's use TestDisk, a free partition-recovery tool, to recover lost partitions on the hard drive.
TestDisk can recover a lost partition and even make your non-booting disks bootable again. You can recover partitions such as FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, Linux, Linux swap (version 1 and 2), NTFS, BeFS (BeOS), UFS (BSD) and NetWare.
Although TestDisk can recover all these partitions, it can be run only in DOS, Windows (NT/2000/XP/ 2003), Linux or FreeBSD. To recover a partition on a hard disk, you need a heathy hard disk. Here are the steps to recover a lost partition.
Direct Hit! Applies to: System administrators USP: Recover lost hard-disk partitions Links: www.cgsecurity.org, www.freshmeat.net/projects/testdisk On PCQ Xtreme DVD: system\\labs
Install TestDisk on the healthy hard disk, the primary hard disk of the system, using which the system will boot.
- Now attach the hard disk, whose partition has to be recovered, as a slave to the primary disk.
- If you are using any of Win 2000, NT, XP or 2003 on the healthy hard disk, you have to use the Windows version of TestDisk. If you're using Win 9x or below, then use the DOS version.
- TestDisk has an easy-to-use interface, which when started displays information about both the hard disks attached to the system in a tabular form. Use the arrow keys to select the hard disk whose partition has to be recovered and press Enter.
- Follow the instructions. You will see three options at the bottom of the interface. Again use the arrow keys to select Search and press Enter. Now TestDisk searches all the cylinders for lost partitions on the hard disk. This might take some time.
- Once you have the list of all lost partitions, select the one to be recovered and press Enter.
- Now select the Advance option at the bottom of the screen, and select Boot in the resulting screen. After this select 'Recover BS' and finally select Dump to get back the lost partition.
In some cases, especially after initiating a detailed search for lost partitions, TestDisk may show partition data, which had been deleted and overwritten long ago. Such partitions may not be recovered, only the recent ones can be.
If you have a thorough understanding of the hard drive's logical storage structure, TestDisk can do advance things such as changing the geometry of the hard disk, which includes altering the number of sectors per track, number of heads or the number of cylinders.