Partition Table Doctor
Partition Table Doctor is a Windows utility that can repair or recover the master boot record (MBR), partition table and boot sectors on a hard drive. Corruption of these areas is a common reason for a drive 'disappearing' or the computer failing to boot.
Partition Table Doctor runs under Windows, so you can use it when other partitions (such as the D: drive) go missing and data is lost. If your primary drive is corrupted and Windows won't start, you can either attach the drive temporarily to another computer while you perform the repair, or use the Partition Recovery Boot CD, which is a version that runs from a bootable CD under DOS. The full version of Partition Table Doctor comes as a zip file which includes both the Windows version and an .iso image file which you can burn to CD to create a boot disc.
Partition Table Doctor is very easy to use. On starting it checks automatically the master boot record, partition table and boot sectors. If an error is found, it will prompt you with the actions needed to fix it. But all the options may also be run manually.
If no partitions are visible, select Operations, Rebuild Partition Table. Choose Automatic mode, and Partition Table Doctor will search the entire hard drive and create a new partition table containing the partitions it discovers. This will work in most cases, but in the event that the program discovers invalid partitions - such as traces of a partition that had previously been deleted - you can use Interactive mode which lets you choose the partitions to keep. The option Partition, Browse Root displays the files and folders in the root directory of the selected partition, so you can verify that the suggested changes are correct before writing them to the disk.
If your partitions exist but the computer won't boot, the option Rebuild MBR can be used to write a new master boot record to the hard drive. The Fixboot will repair the boot sector of the selected partition, which may be required if Windows gives errors when you try to access it.
Partition Table Doctor Boot can back up the partition table to a file on another disk, and restore it from the saved file if it gets corrupted. It can also create an emergency boot disk containing a copy of the partition table that can be restored. However, this requires a floppy drive, which few computers have these days.
Other options include tools to hide a partition, make it active, and perform a surface test to see if the hard drive itself is in good condition. For experts only, you can view and edit the partition table itself. There is even a disk sector editor that lets you to edit raw data anywhere on the hard disk.
Partition Table Doctor is a powerful tool that can recover from some of the most common problems that can occur with a hard disk. However it is not a full data recovery tool, and cannot recover your files if the file system within a partition has been badly damaged. If that is the case you will need a product such as Partition Recovery to get the data back.
Note: Like most software, Partition Table Doctor is licensed per computer. For unrestricted use throughout a company please buy the Partition Table Doctor Unlimited License.