FREE NTFS Partition Repair Data Recovery Software

NOTE FROM MICHAEL: Hey Everyone! Thanks for all the positive emails and phone calls. One email from Jim L in Dallas Texas asks: “you talk about partition repair, but the software doesn’t actually repair the partition, it recovers files from it. Is there anything out there that does repair partitions?” Well Jim while most people are happy to just get their data back from a damaged partition, we do have a tool for those brave souls that want to actually REPAIR a partition.

Dick Correa our chief programmer was kind enough to release a tool he created that does in fact REPAIR NTFS partitions. This software is free to our readers and can be gotten off of our website. The link is at the bottom of this post. Keep in mind that DTI is not responsible for any data lost from misuse of this tool. It is extremely powerful. Now that the lawers are happy, here is Dick’s post:

NTFS Partition Recovery with Free Partition Recovery All things must start somewhere, when it comes to operating systems’; the partition sector is the single most important component in the boot sequence. When the partition sector is missing, corrupt, or set up improperly it can wreak havoc with the booting of your operating system. The partition sector is vulnerable to virus attacks, operating system anomalies, bad sector reads, and an ever increasing set of tools, fdisk included, that when used incorrectly can and will totally destroy an operating systems boot sequence.

In order to more clearly understand how the partition sector fits into the boot sequence, the following is a standard garden variety boot up.

When you turn on your computer several things happen. The first of which is the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is executed by the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The CPU knows to load the BIOS on power up as there is a flag set at power on. The BIOS then jumps to a set of routines that will execute the POST (Power On Self Test). The POST will look at memory, some peripheral devices, and do some other house keeping procedures. The most important of these is determining the boot device. The boot device is stored in non-volatile read/write memory. If the boot device is set to a hard drive, then an industry standard interrupt 0×19 is called. This routine loads the first 512 bytes of the boot device, which in this case the hard drive, into memory location 0x7C00. The 512 bytes is a standard sector size. It then jumps to that address (0x7C00) and executes whatever it finds there.

If all goes well, the set of instructions executed will look at the partition entry data. The partition entry data is used to determine which partition is the boot partition. If it finds a boot partition in the partition entry list the instructions will then load a secondary set of instructions which the partition entry has pointed to. In the case of Windows the OS (Operating System) pre loader is now loading itself into memory. This type of OS loader is called a two phase loader and is very common. Take a look at the table below to help better understand the role of the partition sector entry data.

The format of a partition sector entry is as follows:
1.) Byte 1 Boot Partition Indicator (0×80 is bootable, 0×00 is not)

2.) Byte 2 Starting Head of the partition (255 or less)

3.) Byte 3-4 Starting Sector and Cylinder of the partition
This is set up as 10 bits for the Cylinder and
6 bits for the Sector (Sector Max 63, Cylinders Max 1024)

4.) Byte 5 File System Type (NTFS, FAT32 etc)

5.) Byte 6 Ending Head of the partition (255 or less)

6.) Byte 7-8 Ending Sector and Cylinder of the partition
This is set up as 10 bits for the Cylinder and
6 bits for the Sector (Sector Max 63, Cylinders Max 1024)

7.) Bytes 9 -12 Relative Sector to the partition sector. In other
words, where the actual partition starts.

8.) Bytes 13-16 Total sectors for this partition.

If any of this data is outside the stated parameters the partition will fail and consequently the boot sequence will stop. In order to clearly understand what happens when the partition sector is corrupt or damaged, the following is a list of scenarios.1. Boot Failure: System Halted
An error message that comes from the BIOS. Certain BIOS versions, especially the most recent revisions, take a look at the partition sector. The BIOS will perform some preliminary tests and one of the tests is the Partition Identifier. At the end of every partition sector is the value 0xAA55. If this indicator is missing then the BIOS assumes that this is not a partition sector and the aforementioned error message will be issued.

2. System reboots over and over
Although this is not an error message, it can happen if the relative sectors point to an invalid OS pre loader. A trap is set and if the data that is loaded is not executable machine most BIOS’s will reboot.

3. Invalid Partition Table
This error message comes from the partition boot code. If there are no boot devices then the boot code will enter an infinite loop after this message is displayed.

4. Error Loading Operating System
After a valid partition is found the LBA sector pointed to by the partition entry table will be loaded using INT 13. This is the operating system loader. If the code cannot be loaded into memory then the above message is normally displayed.

5. Missing Operating System
Once the operating system boot code is loaded it is checked for the 0xAA55 identifier in the same manner that the partition sector is tested. If this test fails, then the above message will be displayed.

Over the years the BIOS writers have gotten smarter, personal computer as well as operating system standards have been set and are normally followed. So many of the messages, as well as error checking is now handled by the BIOS. The messages I have mentioned are just a few, but, are very common; however, from BIOS to BIOS the messages as well as the error handling can differ greatly.

As you can clearly see the partition sector is of primary importance in the boot sequence. Without it nothing happens. In the future there may be ways to overcome the use of a partition sector, one would be to store the partition entry data in the BIOS, this would eliminate boot sector viruses as well as the possibility that the boot sector goes bad and becomes unreadable. However for now, we will work with what we have. The next segment will discuss how to do partition recovery using a simple piece of software.

How To Use The Software

Free Partition Recovery is an extremely powerful tool for anyone to use but this statement must be caveated with the fact that with power comes a degree of responsibility. In other words, use this tool with extreme caution as it can destroy your file system to the point of massive and possibly permanent data loss. That being said lets take a look at how we can put this tool to good use.

First, the software should be run from a master drive. There should be two drives in the system, your boot drive from where the software is executed, and the damaged drive. The damaged drive being the one with the corrupt or missing partition. Free Partition Recovery is designed to work on Windows XP type operating systems, so make sure that you have unzipped the file onto that type of operating system.

Once the Free Partition Recovery has been executed you will see in Figure 1.

Figure 1

The top row displays all the physical drives currently active in your system. This will also include any external devices that can be mounted as a physical block device. An example of this would be the 80 GB Maxtor USB device. Once you choose a physical drive all partition entry data will be displayed as in Figure 2.

Figure 2

The partition entry data for this particular drive gives us a clear example of a drive that has been configured with one NTFS logical drive with the standard offset of 63 sectors, start head and sector of 1 and ending cylinder of 1023. These are classic values for a normal single logical drive setup.
The other three entries are clear and not in use. These entries will be ignored by the OS loader. There is one other important item in this configuration. On the far left of Figure 2 of the first partition entry is the boot flag “No”. This indicates that this partition is ‘Not Bootable’. You can change that value buy using the drop down list (Figure 3)

Figure 3

Once you have configured all of the partition entries to reflect the correct values all you need do is press the “Write” button. You will be presented with the following message box in Figure 4. A word of caution, once you write the data down to the partition sector, you must live with it. Please exhibit extreme caution.

Figure 4

Hopefully this information as well as the software will help you recover your data. If you have any questions email or call 727-345-9665 Ext 236. For additional help visit our hard drive recovery page.

You can download the free NTFS partition repair software here. For more info about freeware data recovery visit our free data recovery software page.

We have also just released a FREEWARE solution that will save your NTFS master file table to our secure servers for possible data recovery. It acts as a remote restore point and MFT backup.


  1. JOE GIANS says:




  2. Few week ago when i want to format my disk, because of crash of software and i ensure and purposely only format the C drive which is the window file system. In this PC i have another hard drive, and my pc dont see this second drive. My first hard drive is ok So can i know that your product can help me recover my lost partition in the second hard drive and can show me how-to use this product? I download the free partition recovery and this is the information : I see both hard drive, first 55gb boot : yes, fs type: ntfs, sh: 1 , ec: 1023; the second drive boot: yes, FS type: unknow, same sh and ec.
    I look in my computer and only see the first hard drive.
    Please tell me what now, and the right configuration for write.
    Thank you.

  3. heres a new or old problem it seems. where no one has a definitive answer is there a problem is generic windows XP sp3 install cd’s that will Not allow a new 1T drive work for more than a few minutes without unmounting itself when you try and save files to it as a secondary drive say z:

    the reason i ask is thats exactly whats happening to me right now, i know for a fact the drive a samsung 1T sata drive works fine as i can use a generic parted magic linux livecd mount the NTFS filesystem and copy files from my other smaller drives directly to this problem 1T internal sata drive with mc without a single problem or dismount.

    the conclusion is several generic windows sp3 install cd’s have or install a bad NTFS related filesystem binary or related app that is unmouting this large 1Terbyte drive only when you try and write it , i can read these livecd mc copys files directly off this 1T drive and play the video’s perfectly, but try and write anything of reasonable size to this 1T drive within this newly installed windows SP3 will again unmount the drive and any partions on there 3 right now, every single time…..

    so have anyone heard of this windows sp3 drive unmounting problem and more to the point know a real working solution to make windows sp3 write files to these massive HDs without unmounting them in the process that only a hard power down can fix to bring them back up ? there doesnt sem to be any real anser out there in google land even with good google fu skills….

    im convinced theres a masive problem with windows sp 3 NTFS FS binary as a simple livecd can mount and write to the drive with NO problems whatso ever…. HELP

    • Dave,

      My guess would be POWER. What size is the power supply? When you run multi hard drives in a machine you need something HEFTY. When your in Windows copying from one drive to the other all resources are being used and this could cause the fail. When you use some kind of boot cd NOT all devices are being used or loaded therefore you would not see the load.

  4. I have a drive that was working fine before my Dell Ispiron hit the dreaded ac power jack issue. Rather than replace the motherboard for the 3rd time on a 6 year old box – I decided to port the data to another system. Unfortunately, when connected via a Gigawire device, it is only seen as raw data.

    There are 3 partitions total, one 63 mb healthy, EISA, one 54 gb raw healthy, active, primary and one 3.5 gb healthy.

    My question is will one of these utilities allow me to recover/repair the partion info and let me use this as a temporary external drive, or will I have to just try to salvage whatever data I can with a tool that reads raw space?

    Oh yes, and how?



    • Dana,

      If Windows is seeing the drives as partitioned but does not know the file system then this is either a problem with the file system itself or with the O/S boot record. If it is the Boot Sector then this is something I could fix with the remote service we offer, if it is the file system then I would say it would be best to try data recovery software. Something like Recover It All should work to allow you to scan the different partitions. It is likely that the only one with DATA on it is going to be the middle one (54 gig) dell has a restore partion that usually has a small part in the front of the drive that then points to the data on the end of the drive. I would focus on trying to get the middle one back and ignore the others.

  5. hi..i have lenovo netbook and two partitioned hard disc…now. i had windows xp sp2 on one partition and some data on it which was a secured user account…the problem started when i installed same OS on second partiton as well…now im not able to access my data on earlier partition…what should i do???plz help me out.

  6. Hi,
    It is very nice of you to dedicate so much time to helping others with their problems, I hope you can help me with mine. My dear sweet 2 year old daughter was kind enough to push the pretty blue power button while my computer was on and it shut down. When I started it up I got the BSOD and the “STOP 0x000000ED UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME” error message. The drive is a Western digital WD5001AALS with a 90 something partition that the OS is on and a 400 something partition that data is on. I hooked the drive up to my other computer and it shoes both partitions, I could copy data off of the large partition but I could not access the primary partition with the OS on it. Unfortunately there is some recent files on that partition that I would lke to recover. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    • There’s an error within the filesystem. You need to use the recovery console and run “fixmbr” and “chkdsk”.

  7. “use with caution” but more info seems necessary for caution to be applied.
    as what to do in different scenarios, what will screw your HD, what will not. how to make sure you have the right settings to proceed.

    still, thanks for the free software, and the support you give to people.


  8. tried to install xp pro on new hard drive got half way through the install when i had a blue screen saying
    file missing or corrupt System32\drivers\Ntfs.sys
    unable to start recovey console as install was incomplete could you please help

  9. Indramani Joshi says:

    Sir I format my drive partition C and D and after installation C in Xp-Service pack 2 my Portions E is not opening and nor exploring f is properly working before installation sir kindly give advice how can I open my drive E because I have a 50 GB data in E partition I do not wont to lost it

  10. Eula Rebolledo says:

    Definitely bookmarking and returning.

  11. I run partition magic 8 from dos and detected error on my 300G hard disk and suggested me to fixed it. I agreed. But when I run my windows 7, my drive d, e, and f disappear. How to fix this error?

    • Sigondraon,

      It is likely that the partition sector was wiped out and need to be rebuilt. You would need to know the settings for each partition in order to fix this problem. I would recommend NOT putting any data on that drive .

  12. Grammapat says:

    I want to retrieve data from my failed hard drive. I have removed the drive and purchased one of those cases to make the drive look like an external hard drive but the only thing it is bringing up is the Recovery program. How can I access other partitions on the drive?

  13. I have a WD My Book with 1 TB of storage. When i tried to save a backup of my laptop, it instructed me to change to NTFS. I did so and made the backup. However, all the files I had previously saved to the My Book do not show up anymore. Did I lose the files or are they retrievable?

    • Jacqui Best says:


      Converting a FAT volume to NTFS is major stuff and usually does not work which you have found out. More than likely the drive was just reformatted NTFS. I would recommend data recovery software for FAT32 like Recover it all. So a LONG scan and hopefully it can pick up some of the fat entries.

  14. hi all,

    my seagate free agent go 500 Gb hard disc is not working. When i plug it in takes a lot of time before i can see the device letters coming up in the my computer box. And that does not say seagate drive as it used to earlier. It just shows a plain no . I renaming the disc from regdit. but no use. I even tried rebuilding the partitions. once i run the software, i fed in the partiion values and said run. The software runs and tells me it has rewritten tha partitions. but when i exit and run the free partition revcovery software…it again shows an unknown unpartitioned drive …pls help

    • Jacqui Best says:

      If the drive is taking a lot of time to come up it is likely that the problem is either a degrading head or bad sectors. I would recommend that you try to clone the drive off and then try recovery software on the drive. Thanks

  15. Hi. Somebody help for this problem. My Seagate (320GB) USB HD go green with bipping when connected. ‘My Computer’ do not list it. ‘Disk Management’ show it as Disk-1 as Unknown and Not Initialized. Which also show surprised capacity of 2048.00 GB (Unallocated).

    Me serious abt my stored data. I hv Win7, Vista & XP.

    Please help me out to hav data by using this/other Data Recovery Tool.

  16. Thisis great software.. I use it.. and it works ok.. Thank you for this tutorial too!

  17. I was given a computer that my dad built for me with a 1T Velociraptor drive in it. I have partitioned it into 3 parts: boot, data, audio/video projects. I recently moved and when I set the computer back up, the only partition working is the boot partition. It won’t even recognize that the other two partitions exist and it’s only showing the # of GB for partition 1 as what’s in the computer.

    I’ve tried a few things that were suggested on the Microsoft website but to no avail. Suddenly the computer did a chkdsk upon bootup and it did show the other 2 partitions but only for a short amount of time.

    Could this be due to one of the Windows XP updates? Or damaged drive?

    I just downloaded your software and again, I’m only showing the boot partition.


    I have loads of pictures and home videos and music that I will not be able to recover without this being fixed.

    • Joe,
      There could be multiple reasons that your partitions are not showing. ChkDsk running may be a sign that you have some bad sectors. I would scan the drive with Recover It All (the free demo) and see if it finds your partitions and data.

  18. balkrushna says:

    accidently i formated my usb hdd. will you please suggest any partition recovery software which is totally free?

    i tried many but all ask registration or key .
    pl. suggest.


    • Hi,
      Unfortunately, since you have formatted your drive just repairing a partition sector will not work. You will need something like Recover It All to pull your data of to another hard drive.

  19. Hello,

    My C drive was getting full, so wanted to add few GBs to it frtom the D Drive. I was using Easus partition software to do this, which restarts the box and does the repartitinoing. However, while doing so, suddenly my system got shut down. Luckily, I can observe that C drive is almost quite there, and I can login with “Administrator” username (and my profile user doenst work). My D Drive which has about 300 GB of data throws an error that – this partition is not formatted.

    Q1# Can I use this free partition tool to fix this ? I believe the data is still there, and the partition just needs to be fixed.

    Q2# You do mention that – “Once you have configured all of the partition entries to reflect the correct values all you need do is press the “Write” button. ” – how would I know what are the correct values ? I get only one hardware in my list (my hard disk drive) – which when clicked comes up with 2 filled entries – with one of them with Boot = Yes in dropdown – which should be C-Drive with all the right values (as mentioned above). However the second one starts with SH=254 .. and I dont know if the values in it are right or wrong.

    Thank you,

    • Hi D.
      If you apply the template in Win Hex to the MBR all of the values Win Hex is indicating should be correct. Refer to the tutorial for the step by step procedures. However, if you have sensitive data you may want to purchase something like Recover It All and pull the data off of the partition.

  20. Hi. A few days ago I was surfing the internet as per normal doing my rounds when firefox froze quickly followed by everything but the mouse. The OS crashed so I had to do a hard reboot. I held the button down to shut the machine off and when I turned it on, chkdsk told me it needed to check the system for consistency. I said NAH and booted up normally. I made it into windows for about fifteen seconds before the OS froze again and I had to reboot. Chkdsk asked to run again so I said yes. I didn’t expect it to find an absolute megaton of unreadable file record segments.

    When it finally finished I found absolutely nothing had changed. It wants to run on every startup now and every time it does nothing helpful. I am still unable to sustain a stable windows session.

    My data is still there and I’m going to retrieve it later, I just seem unable to run Windows 7 for longer than 10 seconds.

    Will this program help me fix this? Does it have a chance? I feel like a portion of the actual physical disk or hardware might have been damaged recently but I’d like to try fixing my problem from home before I take it in somewhere and pay $50 only to be told it’s been damaged and will need to be replaced.

    • CaZsm,

      If I were a betting woman I would say that the drive is caching somewhere there is bad sectors and cause the machine to lock when it does so. I would advise getting your data off ASAP and installing a new drive.

  21. MD. Abdus Samad says:

    I format my hard drive and make a new pertition. Now can i have My lost data?? Please inform me with the process….

  22. dave o doherty says:

    Hi My 2tb wd external hd stopped working about 6 months ago. I tried everything and noting worked until I simply hit it with my hand and lo and behold it started working again.
    However it has recently stopped working again and isn’t even recognised when I try to run Stellar Phoenix recovery software……………..
    I am obviously really anxious to try to find a solution, any idea where to start ?

    Many thanks for your help.7



    • Hi David,
      Well, there could be many reasons why the hard drive is not being detected. It could be the hard drive itself is failing. To further the problem the WD external drive is probably encrypted.


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