Turning on your computer one not-so-fine day just to discover an entire partition (drive on harddisk) gone is nothing short of a nightmare potent enough to give you a mild heart attack. Unfortunately, exactly that happened to me yesterday.
An ardent distro hopper that I am, I recently installed (K)Ubuntu 11.10 on my laptop. Things were all fine for 4 days until I fixed a startup issue with my Windows installation using its DVD. The issue was temporarily fixed and I was able to log into Windows. But the next time I booted into Linux, my Windows partition was no longer being shown in the file manager. I fired up “fdisk -l” just to find out that the Windows partition had been overwritten by another hidden 2GB FAT partition, which was now being shown as a twin duplicate of the original. It didn’t take me much time to realize that the Windows DVD had screwed up my partition table, making the whole 80GB Windows partition disappear!
After some research, I found this excellent opensource partition recovery tool by the name TestDisk. Thanks to its Linux version, I was able to find the lost Windows partition, recover it and write the updated partition table to the harddisk. Although it’s a command-line application, believe me, it’s damn straight-forward, and as simple as any other GUI thing.
(God forbid) In case, some day, you find yourself with a partition or two gone from your harddisk, give TestDisk a try. Highly recommended.