I just had one of those moments where the blood drains from your head as you contemplate what you did.
I was in Disk Management Console, messing around with new drives I was testing, and I wanted to delete the volumes. Right Click, Delete, Are you sure, your data will be lost, and without thinking twice, I clicked yes.
Then the blood drained from my head as I realized what I just did; instead of deleting the test volume, I just deleted my main 5TB data volume!
This is 5TB GPT partition backed by RAID5 on 4 x 2TB drives. The RAID thing makes it even worse, what is the point of RAID if I manually delete the partition and destroy the data myself?
Luck was on my side though, just yesterday I ran a backup, so I could recover most of the data, but all my VM images will be gone, they are too big to backup.
I know partition recovery is possible, I’ve done it in DOS a few times, but that was DOS and a long time ago. I also know it is possible using direct disk editing, I know an admin who had to recover a volume on a SAN he accidentally deleted, but that was done with the help of EMC support. I was looking for an easier solution.
A Google search for partition recovery software showed a variety of options, some free, some paid. I found only one product that could recover GPT partitions, Active@ Partition Recovery.
I ran the trial software, and it found no drives. I found it strange that it did not UAC elevate, so I ran it again, this time as admin. It showed all my drives, I selected the drive with the missing volume, clicked quick scan, and it found a recoverable partition. Clicking on recover prompted me to enter a serial number, so I purchased a copy, entered my serial, clicked recover again, and waited. The UI reported that it saved a copy of the partition table, but it showed no progress of actually recovering the volume. I waited a bit more, opened explorer, and there was my drive back, fully recovered.
So Active@ Partition Recovery is not perfect, it needs some usability enhancements, but it works great. If you have experience with other partition recovery software supporting GPT, let me know in the comments.