Dividing a single disk into multiple partitions is a cost-effective way to implement multiple file systems on the same physical drive. This lets you treat each partition as a different drive with its own drive letter, its own file structure and even its own operating system. For example, you could install Mac OS X, Linux and Windows all on the same hard drive. You could also use an additional partition as a shared storage space for all three operating systems.
Partitioning a drive is best done before writing any data to it. This is because changing the partition table on a drive is typically destructive. That is, all the data will be erased on the disk. A few disk partitioning utilities claim to be non-destructive, allowing you to repartition without data loss. But in spite of these claims, repartitioning remains a risky operation.
If the modification of the existing partition table fails, you could be left with a corrupt partition table. This results in a hard disk drive that cannot be mounted, and thus the data on the hard drive cannot be accessed. This can be devastating if this happens to a drive that contains mission critical data. But all hope is not lost. Although your files are inaccessible, the data is still written to your hard drive. It just needs to be recovered.
Think of it this way: imagine that you are hiring a consultant to reorganize your files and records. Halfway through the job, he quits, leaving all your documents scattered across the file room floor. The previous filing method you used has been undone, and a new one hasn’t yet been implemented. So, although your records are all there, there’s no way for you to know where the consultant left off before walking out.
This scenario is similar to the state of your hard drive after a failed repartitioning. To remedy the issue, you can use advanced data recovery software. This software will sift through your data using a number of forensic techniques. The most effective in this case is a file signature search. A file signature is a universally recognizable part of a file that give data recovery software strong clues as to where the file begins and ends and what kind of file it is. By analyzing these file signatures, your data recovery software can begin piecing your data back into a usable file structure.
Returning to the consultant analogy, data recovery software would be like if you hired another consultant to clean up the incomplete job. You would tell the consultant to go in and start looking for certain types of documents by giving him a description of what’s on them. For example, you could tell him to look for invoices for a certain client, or certain forms or reports. He’ll read through each one of them and retrieve all the important files so you can put them back in order and begin using them again. For a person to do this on a million or more files, it would take forever. But with software, it can be done in a matter of minutes or hours (depending on the size of the volume).
Bottom-line: It’s always a good idea to back up your data before attempting to repartition a drive. Using a so-called non-destructive partitioning tool may seem like a handy shortcut, but it could result in a corrupted partition table. If you are lucky, however, all you will lose is time. Advanced data recovery software can help you reclaim your lost data after a failed partition operation.
Data Recovery After Failed Repartitioning
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