Deleted or Partition Expansion Failure

With ever larger hard disk drives available expanding the storage space in a computer is now very commonplace. This includes adding additional drives or swapping drives in a RAID for larger ones through rebuilding the data at each step. The temptation after installing extra storage space is to rearrange data and even change the partitions which existed on other drives.

Caution must be exercised when rearranging the data partitions, as one simple mistake may or misfortune could result in data being lost. Understanding exactly which disks contain what data before you start is important if you are going to delete any partitions. Extending or growing partitions, while a common practise can in some cases cause a volume to become corrupted, also potentially losing data. In both cases, best option is not to run any tools or attempt a recovery yourself, but call in data recovery specialists, such as DiskEng, who can advise you on the best course of action.

Deleted Data Volume

Deleting the wrong data volume is an all too common scenario, but it need not cause a total loss of the files held on that partition. When a data volume or partition is deleted, entries held at the start of the hard disk are clear, allowing that space to be reallocated as free space for new partitions to be created. The data volume is not altered by this action, so it is important not to panic and make a mistake.

In some cases deleting a partition may result in an operating system message about an unused disk, which should be reformatted. Be absolutely sure after deleting a volume that creating a new data volume on this disk is what you require. Reformatting a data volume will destroy important metadata structures from the previous partition, which with some file systems may lead to a total loss or data, or a data trawl as the only viable option.

File systems such as NTFS and XFS can produce excellent data recovery results after the volume has been reformatted, as a few metadata entries are overwritten during the process. Any new data written to a reformatted volume will reduce number of files which can be successfully recovered from the original file system.

Expanding Data Partition Failure

Deleting a volume from a disk and then expanding or growing another partition to use that space is now a common procedure. There are many utilities designed to perform this task, which are robust and efficient. However, misfortunate such as a power failure, system crash or file system corruption of the original volume could lead to situation where this process fails, resulting in corruption, whereby the volume can’t be mounted by the operating system.

If this happens, it is essential not to run any tools to fix the problem, as they may lead to even further corruption for the data, which may result in severe data loss. Expanding a volume is usually a fairly simple process, which requires a few key metadata structures to be altered. If this process fails, it is rare that it will cause corruption severe enough to render the data unrecoverable. The wisest choice is therefore to contact a data recovery company, who have the expertise to recover your data files.

Hard Drive Has Been Deleted

A common problem which users suffer is the accidental or malicious, deletion or reformatting of a hard drive partition. When this happens, it is important not to panic and make an ill considered attempt to recover the deleted data, which could compound the issue, even leading to total loss of data.

Partition Only Deleted

The deletion of a partition need not be disastrous, but it is important not to make a further mistake. The use of free do-it-yourself utilities are not guaranteed to recover your data, and in the worst cases could cause damage. This is particularly true when the deleted data volume is a spanned or striped set of partitions. Some users erroneously believe that after the deleting a data volume, they can gain access to the data by recreating the partition, but this leads to the partition being reformatted. Once you make a mistake, do not compound the issue by making a rash decision.

Partition Reformatted

Once a partition has been reformatted, the consequences can be anything from only minor damage, to complete loss of data. Copying data to a newly reformatted partition will compound the issue further, by overwriting important system areas of the volume.

Can I Get My Data Back?

The answer to this question is not simple, as it depends upon a couple of very important factors, such as the file system, and the volume of any data written to it afterwards. Many file systems when they are formatted, overwrite the most important system areas of the volume that are required to allow the retrieval of the old data; this includes many Unix and the HFS+ file systems.

The good news is that for NTFS and XFS file systems, an almost complete recovery of the old data may be possible, although writing new data to the volume will diminish the quality of the results which are possible. This is known as Unformatting, a process which our data recovery software at DiskEng has performed many times with excellent results. FAT file systems can also be Unformatted, but the quality of results is also affected by how much fragmentation was present in the files held on the volume.