Making inaccessible partition reusable

Many tech-users follow the multiple partition method for organizing data on their computers. While the process may seem complex in theory and comes with the risk of data loss through formatting, hard drive partitioning is quite a debatable topic with as many users standing for it as against. All things considered, hard drive partitioning is one of the better ways to keep vital data secured from non-critical data. It also keeps unauthorized access, accidental modification / deletion and the like at bay.

While all that is true, the risk of data loss from partitions is also real. And the reasons behind it could be varied, which makes it tricky to understand and resolve. Herein a few scenarios are highlighted in which you could face partition inaccessibility and some really easy ways to recover data from inaccessible partition are also covered.

Starting with the basics – why partitioning is a good idea?

Many people may find hard drive partitioning an unnecessary waste of time and effort. However, the truth is that it is a pretty good idea because of the following reasons:

  • It helps keep operating system files and personal files separate thus reducing the risk of accidental data deletion if the OS needs a reinstallation.
  • You can run multiple operating systems on a computer than has multiple partitions. Each OS can run on a different partition without affecting any other.
  • Partitioning gives the overall performance of the machine a slight boost (shorter stroking while reading / writing data meaning lesser delays).

Reasons behind partitions becoming inaccessible

Technical forums are often filled with queries by people who cannot access their internal / external hard drive partitions. This could happen due to several reasons:

  • Bad sectors on the hard drive
  • Partition file system corruption
  • Unplugging the hard drive when data transfer is underway
  • Logical damage to the hard drive caused by a bad USB port
  • Virus/Malware infection to the partition / drive
  • Physical damage
  • Access reserved through permission on shared partitions

If on double-clicking a partition letter, you face an error pop-up saying “This partition is not accessible”, don’t panic. There are several ways to deal with the issue.

Make inaccessible partition reusable

  1. Format the partition

While this method erases all the data on the partition, if you have a complete backup, this is the simplest and quickest way to make the partition usable again. Formatting creates a new file system for the partition thus eliminating corruption or other problems. Here’s how to format a partition:

  1. If the hard drive is external, plug it into the computer and wait for it to be detected.
  2. Open My Computer (Win XP) or Computer (Win 7, Vista)
  3. Right-click on the inaccessible partition and select the option ‘Format’ from the pop-up
  4. Give the partition a new label and choose the target file system (if you’re using the drive only on a Windows computer, choose NTFS. If using the drive in a music player or on Mac, choose FAT). Leave the ‘Allocation unit size’ as default.
  5. If you’re in a hurry, check the ‘Quick Format’ option and then click ‘OK’.

When the formatting completes, you’ll be able to access the partition but remember again, all your data on the partition will be erased.

  1. Command line utilities

Operating system utilities that are executed through the command line are often quite competent in resolving such issues. By fixing bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files, file system errors and directory errors on the hard drive, such utilities resolve errors quickly and easily. Here’s how to use the chkdsk utility to fix the problem in focus:

  1. Run Command Prompt as administrator
  2. Type the command line chkdsk /f /r F: in the command prompt (where F: is the drive letter assigned to the partition).
  3. Hit Enter

The chkdsk utility automatically repairs bad sectors found on the hard drive. In such a case you should know that the data stored on the bad sectors is lost forever.

  1. Adjust partition permissions

Shared partitions might be protected with usage rights appearing inaccessible to people without the proper permissions. To adjust such rights, follow these steps:

  1. Open My Computer or Computer
  2. Right-click on the inaccessible partition and then choose Properties from the pop-up
  3. Go to Security tab -> Advanced -> Owner tab -> Edit
  4. Make desired modifications to the account and then click ‘OK’.
  5. Remove encryption if any

A partition may also show as inaccessible if it is encrypted. To check and remove such an encryption:

  1. Open My Computer or Computer
  2. Right-click on the inaccessible partition and then choose Properties from the pop-up
  3. Go to General tab -> Advanced -> unselect the check box next to Encrypted

To Conclude

No storage device can resist all damage, so don’t get frustrated if your hard drive partition decides to go kaput. Follow our helpful pointers to fix the issue. If none of the above mentioned free tricks work, you can always take the help of paid partition recovery tools.