Well, did you accidentally delete a partition on your Windows PC? It’s not the end of the world!

A partition deletion triggers the system to remove that location’s assignment on the hard drive, thus permitting this “new” memory section for overwriting. However, as long as this disk section remains untouched, the probability of recovery is pretty high.

This article throws light on some of the tried and tested methods for recovering deleted partitions.

Disk Partition & Volume Types: 101

Here’s an ultra stripped-down and raw definition of a disk partition:

“It’s simply a chunk of a disk.”

A partition is merely a disk segment bearing a specific size set during its creation. Resizing a partition is possible, but it could lead to data deletion.

disk partitions on a windows PC

Regarding the screenshot above, disk partitions are discreet sections of storage that exist independently. As a result, you can even run multiple operating systems on the same device.

The All-Important Partition Table

Windows maintains a partition table that describes all the partitions on a disk. Your computer loads and reads the partition table to identify which partition has an active operating system.

A storage medium gets subdivided by the partition table, which uses units of sectors, heads, and cylinders. Partitions usually have a file system that gets created on formatting a partition. Some standard file systems of Windows are:

  • FAT32
  • NTFS
  • exFAT

The Master Boot Record (MBR) or the GUID Partition Table (GPT) is a particular location on the storage device that houses the partition table.

When there isn’t sufficient contiguous space on a hard disk for storing a huge file (all chunks of that single file), disk fragmentation occurs—the OS stores different parts of the file at various scattered locations.

No, Volumes and Disk Partitions Aren’t The Same

A volume is a storage device like a CD-ROM, USB drive, or a floppy disk formatted to store files and directories. Upon mounting a storage device, you are greeted with that sweet Windows notification sound and an alert saying, “USB Drive connected” – this is a volume.

To understand better, disk partitions (C: drive or D: drive) are subsets of a volume (HDD or SDD).

example of a volume

Common Causes of Partition Loss

Here’s a list of common culprits behind deleted partitions:

  • Accidental Deletion 
    Unintentionally, deleting or formatting the wrong partition is among the most common partition deletion causes. As a thumb rule, always double-check before you confirm the deletion of any file.
  • Partition Table Damage
    The partition table plays a vital role in describing the partitions to the OS. Therefore, a corrupted partition table would lead to partition loss.

In the command prompt, type “bootrec.exe/fixmbr” and hit Enter. This command attempts to perform a rapid fix on the damaged partition table.

  • Improper Partition Resizing
    So that you know, you can tweak the size of created partitions. However, this process is extremely risky, and unforeseen events like sudden interruptions can throw the partition into limbo. If you haven’t done this before, it’s best you don’t.
  • Unexpected System Shutdowns
    Frequent unexpected shutdowns lead to computer malfunctioning and affect a hard drive’s partitions. Some culprits of system shutdowns include power outages, infected applications, or irregular BIOS upgrades.
  • Virus attacks
    Malware and virus often infect computers despite having antivirus solutions. Consequently, there’s a high probability that the hard drive gets infected, leading to partition deletion.

Time is of the essence here. The quicker you act, the higher are your chances of partition recovery. When a partition gets erased, the system marks that space as available for newer partitions. As a result, you mustn’t use the drive at all. Moreover, avoid creating new partitions or adding new data – as overwritten partitions are impossible to recover.

Okay, so you are dealing with a deleted partition on your Windows PC. Now what? Read further to understand more about partition recovery and the technical know-how.

Common Scenarios for Partition Recovery on Windows 10

Almost all instances of partition deletion fall into one of these three scenarios. Read along for actionable steps specific to each scenario.

Scenario #1: The Partition Probably Just Vanished but Isn’t Deleted

You read that right!

Some essential system partitions like recovery partitions, boot volumes, and OEM partitions are undeletable. However, you can delete most of the other partitions. In Disk Management, if you hit a grey wall when trying to delete a partition, it’s undeletable.

Method #1: Assigning a Drive Letter

Sometimes, File Explorer denies the existence of a particular partition. However, Disk Management might have a different say on this. Head over to Disk Management and check if there’s some space consumption for the partition. This usually happens when the partition isn’t assigned a letter in Disk Management.

Here’s how can assign a drive letter:

  1. In Disk Management, right-click the partition and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”instructions on how to assign a drive letter
  2. Click on the Change button.assigning a drive letter to a partition
  3. Check the “Assign the following drive letter” option. Now, pick a letter.assigning a new letter to the disk
  4. Click on okay> okay.

Now, head over to File Explorer to check if you can access the partition. What if you still can’t see the partition?

Method #2: Restore an Unallocated Space to the partition

If the partition is still undiscoverable, it probably became unallocated space. In Disk Management, under the Disk Volume split up, look for the unallocated tab, and do the following:

  1. Right-click on the unallocated tab.screenshot from Computer Management
  2. Select “New Simple Volume” and hit Next > Next.Selecting Volume from Computer Management
  3. Click on Next > Next and specify the volume size.
  4. Select “Assign the following drive letter” and pick a letter.Assigning a drive letter
  5.  Click on Next and select “Do not format this volume:”Simple Volume Wizard
  6.  Click Next > Finish. Now, the unallocated partition becomes a RAW partition.End result is that a new partition appears

Ensure that you select the “Do not format this drive” option; otherwise, the partition’s data gets erased. Also, you can’t access a RAW partition straightway. You will have to recover data from the RAW partition using a data recovery tool.

Scenario #2: Recovering Specific Files from a Deleted Windows Partition

If any of the above methods didn’t work, a partition actually did get deleted.

Enter: Data recovery tools. They feature powerful scanning algorithms that scavenge and dig deep into your hard drive to recover the deleted files and folders.

Look for the filter file functionality on whichever data recovery tool you are using. Once you select a specific file type, you can open up a window presenting a filtered view of the recoverable files and folders.

Now, all there’s left for you to do is select the files you want to recover and initiate the recovery process.

Our editorial crew loves testing out new applications, and there was one that caught their eye: Disk Drill – which turned out to be a reliable option to recover lost partitions effortlessly. It houses an intuitive UI and is priced reasonably.

Here’s a super quick guide on how you can get started:

  1. Download and Install Disk Drill.
  2. Click on the storage device that got it’s partition deleted, and click on Search for Lost Data.
  3. Select the files you would like to recover.
  4. Click on the “Recover” button.
  5. Choose your recovery destination and hit “Confirm.”

Disk Drill screenshot

In case you are wondering what the top recovery tools are, here’s a comprehensive list covering the pros and cons of all the major players out there.

Scenario #3: Recover Entire Deleted Partitions

If you want to recover an entire partition, the only solution lies in repairing the partition table using data recovery tools.

Sometimes, the alert “Invalid Partition Table” flashes when trying to boot. This indicates a corrupted partition table that’s hindering a proper booting procedure.

You are probably stressing out big time, and now isn’t when you evaluate options and make a pricing decision. Here’s a tool that gets the job done for the low, low cost of free.

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is capable of fixing damaged partition tables using the “Rebuild MBR” feature. It’s compatible with Windows 10, 8/8.1, 7, XP, and Vista. Here’s a drill-down on how to get started:

  1. Download and install the tool on another working computer as your current system wouldn’t boot because of the corrupted Master partition table.
  2. Run the application, and Connect an empty USB drive to the computer. Now, click on “Make Bootable Media.” This function essentially loads Windows (along with the recovery tool) onto the USB drive and makes it “bootable.”screenshot of AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard
  3. Connect the bootable USB to the affected computer. In BIOS, change the boot order and choose to boot your computer from the USB drive. Upon logging in, AOMEI Partition Assistant runs automatically.BIOS screenshot
  4. On the home screen, right-click on the system disk and choose “Rebuild MBR.” click on Rebuild MBR in AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard
  5. Now, choose the appropriate MBR based on your Windows OS version, and hit “Okay.”choosing the right MBR
  6. Now “Apply” and “Proceed” as illustrated in the image below:proceed with the MBR rebuilding process

The AOMEI Partition tool can also repair a corrupted MBR in external hard drives.

Recovery Partition – In a Nutshell

A recovery partition is designed to help restore systems to an OS’s factory settings in case of abrupt system failure. Moreover, this partition has no assigned drive letter.

recovery partition on Windows

There are two significant types of Recovery Partitions:

  • The default Windows Recovery Partition – This occupies a negligible volume of disk space.
  • The OEM Recovery Partition – created by computer manufacturers (HP, Dell, or Lenovo). This amounts to a significant disk space volume as it contains various manufacturer settings and driver configurations for restoration to default settings.

Now, we are going to throw some light on a much-debated topic: Recovery Partition Deletion.

Just a note of caution: We do not recommend deleting the recovery partition as you are essentially deleting the necessary files to create a recovery drive (on a USB drive, for instance). Additionally, another consequence of deleting the recovery partition is losing access to the Windows Recovery Environment. However, if you so desperately need the extra disk space, first create a USB recovery drive, and then follow the upcoming guide.

Deleting a Recovery Partition

There are two methods to do so:

  • Diskpart
    1. Windows has an in-built utility called Diskpart. In Command Prompt, type “diskpart” and then type “list disk.”
      Diskpart screenshot
    2. Select the disk.Selecting disk in Diskpart
    3. Now type “list volume.”Getting the list of volumes
    4. Look for the “recovery” label, and select that volume. It’s volume 1 in this case. To select a volume, type “select volume n,” where n is the partition number you want to delete.Selecting the recovery partition
    5. Now, type “delete volume 1.”Entering the command to delete the recovery partition
    6. Now, the partition gets deleted. Restart your computer once the deletion process is completed.
  • Here’s the second method: Using a USB Drive

Apparently, while creating a USB recovery drive, there’s an option in the wizard for deleting the recovery partition.

Select the “Delete the recovery partition.” Then, click on “Delete:” This removes the recovery image and frees up space on your computer.

Not all PCs offer the recovery partition removal feature. Consequently, if you can’t find the option to delete, chances are your system doesn’t have a recovery partition utilizing extra disk space.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Takeaways

A deleted partition isn’t necessarily a data catastrophe.

In most cases, the partition probably never got deleted. You can reassign this “vanished” partition back into existence. On the other hand, if you encounter deletion, there are techniques to either pick and restore selected files or entire partitions.

Windows offers a native “Diskpart” feature that helps recover partitions. Additionally, some commendable third-party data recovery tools offer unique partition recovery functionalities.