Did you accidentally delete a partition on your Windows PC? Don’t worry; it’s not the end of the world! Deleting a partition prompts the system to unassign that location on the hard drive, making this “new” memory section available for overwriting. However, if you’ve deleted a partition by mistake and this disk section remains untouched, the probability of recovery is pretty high.
This article highlights tried and tested methods for recovering deleted or lost partitions.
Scenarios for Partition Recovery on Windows 10/11
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. However, if you’ve accidentally removed it, there are ways to ‘undelete’ the partition.
Method 1: Assign 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:
- In Disk Management, right-click the partition and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”
- Click on the Change button.
- Check the “Assign the following drive letter” option. Now, pick a letter.
- 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 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:
- Right-click on the unallocated tab.
- Select “New Simple Volume” and hit Next > Next.
- Click on Next > Next and specify the volume size.
- Select “Assign the following drive letter” and pick a letter.
- Click on Next and select “Do not format this volume:”
- Click Next > Finish. Now, the unallocated partition becomes a RAW partition.
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. These tools boast powerful scanning algorithms that delve deep into your hard drive, retrieving deleted files and folders.
Most partition recovery software operates on a consistent principle: First, choose the disk where you either deleted a partition, formatted it, or removed crucial files. After initiating the scan, simply wait for it to complete. Once done, review the results and retrieve the files that matter to you.
Here’s a super quick guide on how you can get started:
- Download and install Disk Drill on your PC or laptop.
- Connect the hard drive to your computer and launch Disk Drill. If the deleted partition is located on the internal drive, you can skip this step.
- Select the hard drive that contains the deleted partition you want to recover. Alternatively, you can select the exact partition instead of the whole drive.
- Click the “Search for Lost Data” button to initiate a scan of the hard drive or partition.
- Wait for the scan process to finish.
- Preview recoverable files and mark the ones you want to recover.
- Click the “Recover” button to begin the recovery process.
- Select a location for your recovered files and wait for the recovery process to complete.
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. Interested in learning more about Disk Drill? Our team has conducted two reviews on Disk Drill. The first provides a general overview of its data recovery capabilities, while the second evaluates its safety features.
Scenario 3: Repairing the Master Boot Record for Proper System Boot-Up
If you’re faced with boot-up issues on your computer, it’s often linked to problems with the partition table or the Master Boot Record (MBR). While this might not be about recovering an entire deleted partition, it’s crucial for ensuring your system starts up correctly.
Data recovery tools can come to the rescue in such situations, helping repair these critical components. For instance, if you’ve ever encountered the alert “Invalid Partition Table” during boot-up, it’s a clear sign of a corrupted partition table preventing the system from booting. We understand that such situations can be highly stressful. To assist you, we recommend a tool that effectively addresses these issues without any cost.
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is capable of fixing damaged partition tables using the “Rebuild MBR” feature. It’s compatible with Windows 10, 11, 8/8.1, 7, XP, and Vista. Here’s a drill-down on how to get started:
- Download and install the tool on another working computer as your current system wouldn’t boot because of the corrupted Master partition table.
- 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.”
- 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.
- On the home screen, right-click on the system disk and choose “Rebuild MBR.”
- Now, choose the appropriate MBR based on your Windows OS version, and hit “Okay.”
- Now “Apply” and “Proceed” as illustrated in the image below:
The AOMEI Partition tool can also repair a corrupted MBR in external hard drives.
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.
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:
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).
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. Pro tip: 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.
Now that you’ve gone through the steps in the recovery section above, you should have a better understanding of how to recover a deleted partition on Windows 10 or 11. If you still have questions or need further insights, continue reading for more details on partition recovery and the technical aspects involved.
The Purpose of a Recovery Partition and Its Connection to Deleted Partitions
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.
While the recovery partition provides tools and resources to restore the system to a previous state or factory settings, it doesn’t specifically contain tools to recover other deleted partitions. For that purpose, you’d typically need third-party partition recovery software. So, while they both deal with recovery, they serve different specific purposes.
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.
How and When to Delete a Recovery Partition
There are two methods to do so:
- First method: Diskpart
- Windows has an in-built utility called Diskpart. In Command Prompt, type “diskpart” and then type “list disk.”
- Select the disk.
- Now type “list volume.”
- 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.
- Now, type “delete volume 1.”
- 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: Addressing Common Queries
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.
Joshua is a content curator for Handy Recovery. His expertise involves taking intricate IT concepts and breaking them down into super easy to understand chunks. He’s been wielding the writing sword for quite some time now - 3 years to be precise. Digital marketing, data recovery, and anything “techy” are Joshua’s niches.
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.