Simple Tips For Partition Table Recovery – Get Moving Now

In the process of using disk, more than half of the users have had the following experience: when clicking on the disk to access data, they suddenly find one or more partitions are missing from disk or can't be opened.

Actually, a certain partition may get lost or damaged easily when we use computer. Do you think so? The main reason lies in – there are a lot of factors that could lead to partition loss or partition damage. Mistaken operation, virus invasion, malicious attack and many other unknown factors are proved to be very harmful. And the root cause is – partition table is in trouble (it may be deleted or damaged).

Yet, users don't need to get into endless panic right away after discovering partition loss/damage problem. In some cases, the problem can be solved easily by completing partition table recovery in just a few steps.

What really matters is how the problem is caused & how users deal with it after finding. Those two factors greatly determine whether we can recover partition table/recover a lost partition successfully or not.

A Better Understanding of Partition Table

As you can see from the name, a partition table is actually a table stored on disk by the operating system to save information (such as size, starting & ending sector, number and type) of partitions on that disk. These messages are able to guarantee normal hard disk working; once they're modified or lost, problems will occur.

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When the system receives a request to access a file, it will access partition table at first. If the related information can be found in partition table, the access will be switched directly to corresponding file. On the contrary, if there's nothing found in partition table, the access will be denied.

note Note:
Just because of the characteristics of partition table, OS (operating system) can easily know the usage of hard disk. In this way, the OS don't need to search the entire hard drive for a single file. This greatly improves the running speed and overall performance of computer.

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Similarly, when a file is deleted by operating system, only the entry to that file is deleted from partition table, the real content still remains intact. This explains clearly why deleted files can be recovered.

link Here's a tutorial on how to recover a deleted Word document.

Location of Partition Table on Disk

In general, partition table is located on the beginning of disk (head 0, sector 1 of a cylinder). The 1st partition table (also known as the primary partition table) is always located on cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1, while the location of remaining partition table can be deduced in turn, according to that of primary partition table.

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Partition table occupies the 447 to 510 byte of certain sector, having a total of 64 bytes. To determine the partition table, we only need to see whether the following-up two bytes (511~512) are "55AA" or not. If they are, it indicates that the previous part is partition table. On the contrary, it is not.

Two Main Types of Partition Table

We have two partition schemes to choose from: MBR and GPT. The concept of MBR was firstly appeared in 1983 when PC DOS 2.0 started to support hard disk. So it is the most compatible partition scheme. Yet, GPT was appeared many years later to replace MBR in some cases in which MBR fails to meet users' needs.

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Now, please let's explain these two kinds of partition tables to you.

mbr MBR partition table: the Master Boot Record of a disk consists of 3 parts – master boot program, hard disk partition table and end mark (55AA). The traditional MBR partitioning scheme saves disk partition information into the first 64-byte sector (MBR sector) and each partition entry occupies 16 bytes.

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Look, here's the conclusion – MBR disk doesn't support more than 4 primary partitions. This also shows us why the extended partition and logical partition concept is introduced afterwards.

gpt GPT partition table: GPT is actually a kind of disk partition architecture based on the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) in Itanium computer. Compared to MBR partition scheme, GPT partition scheme has many advantages.

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Different from MBR disk, critical platform operation data on GPT disk are saved directly to partitions, instead of hidden sectors. What's more important – GPT disk has backup for primary partition table and backup partition table to improve integrity of partition data structure.

link Differences between GPT and MBR you should know.

To sum up, the possibility of partition table recovery on GPT disk seems larger than that of partition table recovery on MBR disk. However, what we want to say is as long as you choose the correct partition recovery tool, you're able to restore old partition table on both disks easily and quickly.

About Partition Table Missing/Damage Problem

We have mentioned that partition table is essential for the normal working of hard disk; thus, plenty of disk problems will appear when the corresponding partition table is missing or damaged.

When finding one/more partitions are missing mysteriously from hard disk or computer fails to boot as usual, users should suspect partition table problem. Well, if those problems were really caused by partition table problem, how to fix lost partition table or fix damaged partition table becomes the most important thing.

Here, we recommend choosing suitable partition recovery tool to start recovering partition table and regaining lost partitions/data immediately after disk partition table problems occurred.

Specific Phenomena of Partition Table Failure

When disk partition table is lost or damaged due to different reasons, the phenomena would be different. Plentiful error messages may appear: Missing Operating System, Operating System Not Found, Non-System Disk or Disk Error, Invalid Partition Table, Error Loading Operating System, etc.

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Now, we're going to talk about some of the most common symptoms.

after After entering the Windows Explorer or Windows Disk Management, users find the number of their original partitions has been decreased. That is to say, some of the disk partitions have been lost, with no prompts.

as As we mentioned, the most obvious symbol of partition table problem would be – system refusing to boot up and then giving error messages to show problem. If you can't boot system and receive no error message, you may try to double check the cabling and SCSI termination, BIOS settings to make sure BIOS does recognize the drive.

partition Partitions and free space areas in Disk Management may be the same with your original state. However, you may find the total capacity of all partitions and free space is larger than the real capacity of this disk. This indicates partition overlapping, which is resulted from partition table failure.

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note Note:
In rare cases, you may see a text error message appears on a Windows blue screen and then the system halts. This is usually caused by damaged partition table.

Avoid Those Causes for Partition Table Failure

wrong Wrong operation: if more than one operating system is installed on a hard disk at the same time, the uninstallation of one of them will result in partition table failure. Besides, if you delete primary partition directly, without deleting extended partition firstly, partition labels may not able to be correctly read.

un Unsuccessful disk conversion: if you choose defective tool to convert disk from GPT to MBR, or vice versa, you may also lead to partition table failure. So partitions will be lost from disk after conversion. Based on this, we suggest users to choose powerful but safe tool to perform conversion.

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file File system environment: current Windows operating systems give full support for NTFS, in the meantime, NTFS is the default file system to install programs. Thus, if sudden power outage or computer shut down occurs when we are converting file system/dividing NTFS partition, partition table will probably be damaged.

virus Virus attack: virus should be regarded as the most threatening factor to cause partition table failure. Many kinds of viruses are designed to attack partition table of disks to remove users' partitions and data. For example, the variant of typical CIH virus will the motherboard BIOS and destroy partition table at the same time.

Of course, there're many other factors that could lead to partition table loss/damage apart from above mentioned ones. Well, we strongly recommend that users resort to professional partition recovery tool immediately to seek high partition and data recovery rate.

As for how to restore deleted partition or damaged partition, we'll give detailed tutorial later.

link Read this to acquire easy way to recover data from RAW drive.

How to Fix Corrupted Partition Table

The best way to solve partition table problem must be recovering from backup. However, in reality, many users have no backup at hand (some of them haven't formed the habit of timely backup while others may lose the backup files).

At this time, how can they fix the corrupted partition table? Here, we introduce some commonly used methods in brief.

st1 Kill virus: if the disk partition table failure is caused by boot sector viruses, you can use the boot disk of third-party anti-virus software to start computer and then kill virus in the DOS environment. Generally, the computer will be brought back to normal after residual viruses were cleared.

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st2 Fdisk repair: as a famous command-line utility, fdisk has a very convenient master boot sector recovery function. It only modifies the master boot sector (will not work on other sectors), so it can be used as a very good partition table repair tool.

st3 Fix with recovery software: this is believed to be the safest recovery method since it will not bring any secondary damage to lost data, while other files may be failed and causing permanent data loss.

In short, we suggest users not to choose a method casual to try to fix damaged partition table, since it may bring secondary damage. Instead, we suggest them to use reliable software, which will not cause additional damage.

Though there're countless free partition recovery tools on the market, users are supposed to choose high quality ones to guarantee security. Select MiniTool Partition Wizard for deleted partition recovery if partition table is deleted or MiniTool Power Data Recovery to recover data at first if partition table is damage.

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Useful Suggestions on Partition Table Recovery

After finding disk partitions disappeared suddenly, users should stay calm, which will help them make the right choice to recover partition table/data inside.

If the computer works fine (only some data partitions are lost), we advise users to recall whether they have hidden them for security reasons or not. If they're pretty sure the partitions are missing or they can't enter OS, they should turn to the following methods for partition table recovery.

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How to Fix Lost Partition Table

Partition recovery

For users who want to restore hard disk to its original status, MiniTool Partition Wizard is a great choice. After launching the software, users only need to complete a few simple operations.

Select disk -> choose "Partition Recovery" from left action panel or from the toolbar -> follow detailed prompts in each interface to continue -> check all partitions found to recover.

link Here's how to restore deleted partition with Partition Wizard easily.

note Note:
1. "Partition Recovery" function is not supported by MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition, so you need to buy a license to achieve this.
2. Please choose bootable edition of MiniTool Partition Wizard when computer can't boot.

How to Fix Damaged Partition Table

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For users who care more about recovering data from missing/damaged partition, MiniTool Power Data Recovery would be an even better choice.

They can choose "Lost Partition Recovery" to recover data when the whole partition is removed from disk; or choose "Damaged Partition Recovery" to get back missing data from inaccessible partition or from existing and normally working partition.

Similarly, operation tips are included in each software interface; users just need to do what the software suggest them to do to finish partition table recovery without obstacle.

Note :
Please choose bootable edition of MiniTool Power Data Recovery when computer can't boot.

This will show you how to recover data when HDD shows as unknown.


Partition table loss or damage issues could happen at any moment, giving no time for us to prepare/respond. Thus, the only thing we can do after that is trying our best to figure out the cause & analyze the phenomena in order to choose the most suitable solution to making up for the accident. And please remember, backup is always the safest way to achieve high data security.

Common problems related to partition recovery and our solutions: