Posted on 10:00 AM by Mr Peraduan and filed under
Primary Partition Gone?
The hard drive that suffered the data loss was a 17Gb Fujitsu drive with two 5Gb XP NTFS partitions (Home and Professional) and 6Gb of unused space. Both XP partition were unbootable after the incident.

After transferring the drive to a Windows 2000 computer so I could use disk manager, (to load disk manager on XP or 2000, right click 'my computer' select 'manage' then 'disk manager') this is what I saw.

The Primary partition where my 5000+ word article was saved, is seen as unformatted and cannot be read by the OS. The second XP partition could not be booted, but was seen as formatted and I could transfer files easily from it using explorer. Unfortunately, all the data I needed was on the first partition.

What to do? Well there are a few tricks you can use to get data back from the brink of an abyss like the one I've created for myself here. First though, we should understand exactly what a file system is, and how it controls access to your data on a computer.


An overview of file systems

A file system is a method an operating system uses to arrange data and free space on a hard drive or other storage device so it can be written to and read from. File systems create partitions which are areas of free space than can be addressed by the file system and seen as a logical drives (C: D: etc.) to be written to and read from.

The two file systems used by the various Windows operating systems are NTFS (NT File System) and FAT (File Allocation Table). FAT is an earlier file system, used first in DOS as FAT-16, then later in Windows 9x/ME as FAT-32.

The only major difference between FAT-16 and -32 is in the amount of data they can address. FAT-16 can only use up to 2GB of space on each logical drive, and FAT-32 has no such limitation. Later Microsoft operating systems like Windows 2000 and XP are fully compatible with FAT, even if it is not the default method they use to store files.

NTFS is used in Windows NT, 2000 and XP and provides a more secure and efficient method of file storage. In addition to allowing security to be implemented on individual files, NTFS also stores backup copies of essential disk information to aid in recovering from disaster.

Both file systems use the Master Boot Record (MBR) and partition table, found in the first sector of each hard drive or storage device. The MBR and partition table determine which partition(s) on the disk are bootable, and locate and pass control to that partition to boot the operating system.

If the MBR or partition table are damaged, the drive will become unbootable, and may appear to be blank if the partition information has been erased.
Responses to ... Beginners Guides Part 2 : Hard Drive Data Recovery

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