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Lost/Missing Partitions

How to attempt a recovery of lost/missing partitions by Binnit
Posted: 24 Jun 04

The thread that has brought about this tip is


The thread itself is a combination of 2 problems, which appear to be similar, this tip is primarily related to the experience I have posted in the lower half of the thread.

Rather than reading through the entire thread I will summarise the problem and how it was resolved below. If you think this relates to a problem you are having, I suggest you do read through the thread afterwards.

First the credits!
Many thanks to Bcastner who posted the link to CGSecurity.org and for his patience during my time of severe distress!

Secondly and most importantly to Christophe Grenier of CGSecurity.org for:-
1) Providing the free download utility - Test Disk
2) Providing understandable answers to many queries I raised with him about the recovery process
3) The fact that it all worked!

Also thanks go to Stefan who assisted me for about 3.5 hours during the whole process. Good friend indeed!

The backgound
I had the desire to reinstall XP Pro (as you do on occasions when bored)
My machine had 3 Primary partitions already in place.
Not realising you can only have 4 primarys, I happily decided to create a 2nd install within a new primary NTFS partition leaving the original XP install in place (big mistake)
During set-up I therefore created a new 10gb partition and chose full format
The machine then duly hung so after 5 minutes of inactivity I shut it down.

Upon restart I again selected to install in to the new 10gb partition but this time with a quick format û XP installed and all appeared OK

The problem
Things were not OK!, when I went to explorer to locate my previous data partitions their drive letters were visible but completely inaccessible, the same was within Disk management. The partitions file systems were no longer NTFS (as previous) but completely blank and pretending to have been formatted.
I re-ran set-up to the partition point to see what it reported and again the existing partitions were showing as unknown file system.

Whatever I tried there was no way of getting to my data.

The Solution
After sweating/swearing profusely for hours pondering what had happened, along with not knowing if my data had survived, I had a very sleepless night. The following day I posted my problem in to this forum, Bcastor took up the challenge and recommended a visit to CGSecurity.org in order to obtain the Test Disk utility.

I was able to run the utility from within XP, it showed that the partitions and the files within still existed, this was great news although I still could not get to it!. I sent the analysis text file (see extracts within original thread) to CGSecurity who then replied with very easy and quick instructions.

Having followed the simple recovery instructions (which took about 2 mins) the partitions were re-activated and became visible and accessible, a big sigh of relief!.

However this was not the end of the problem.

Basically my new 2nd XP install was now in the wrong position on the HDD and needed to be on the first part of the drive. The original XP install (which used to occupy this space) had been obliterated and left 30gb of unformatted partition space at the front of my drive.

First step was to create an extended partition (fortunately had 20gb spare in one of the newly recovered primaryÆs) and copied all the data in to a new logical drive therein.

Using Partition Magic 7, we were able to juggle and free up the various partitions and finally reinstall XP up front.

The Reccomendation
A visit to CGSecurity was the best thing for me and it could certainly help others in similar circumstances. I hope that I have learned my lesson and that I will not have to use this again, but its great to know its there if needed!

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