Recovering FAT (or: HELP!)

Please, I wonder if someone could help me? I'm desperate... I've lost access to more than 10 Gb of data on a backup HDD, because of partitioning problems.

I was repartitioning my main HDD, and used FreeDOS Fdisk ( to erase Linux Ext2FS and FAT32 partitions, since I wanted to build one single FAT32 partition. Everything seemed to occur without problems, but after I restarted my computer, to my shock I discovered that the primary partition of my second HDD (the backup one) didn't exist anymore either!

The data on that HDD represented personal files, work and Internet downloads accumulated for more than one year. Worst of all, I was going to backup all the contents on CD-R until the end of this month. Murphy's Law at its worst...

This HDD is a Seagate 20 Gb, connected as slave on the primary IDE port. It had one single primary partition formatted as FAT32. The device is recognized in the hardware detection and in the System Properties tab in Windows 98SE, but it's not accessible as a drive letter (it used to be "D:"). Now, Fdisk says there are no partitions in this drive.

I didn't dare messing with this HDD after disaster struck, before I receive some guidance on the subject. So it remained untouched since then, and I haven't tried anything that would write to the disk, afraid I could worsen my chances of recovering the data. Actually, I even tried good old "fdisk /mbr", but it didn't work.

I searched the Internet after software that could help me, and I've already tried scanning the HDD with the following data recovery software:

iRecovery -

It found almost all lost data and directory structure. The problem is, when trying to recover the data (saving it to the other HDD), almost every file with more than 250-300 kb is corrupted, so it's pretty much useless. I didn't like this program anyway, it doesn't seem very reliable, so I want to try a few more before giving up.

According to this program the two copies of the FAT are in perfect shape, so I don't know why it couldn't find all the lost data (while R-Studio did), and the files were corrupted when recovered.

R-Studio 2.0 -

This one found everything (more than iRecover) and would solve my problem, if it wasn't commercial software and had available only a demo version that doesn't allow to recover files with more than 64 Kb. Too bad, since it seems a lot better and more reliable than iRecover, and I have hopes I would be able to recover the files in good shape with it.

Disk Investigator -

Looks good, but it only works with drives recognized as letters by Windows. I'd have to recreate the partition and format the drive, and I'm not willing to risk it.

If someone knows any other software that may help me (freeware or commercial), please help. I believe someone with more knowledge about HDDs and partitions maybe could solve the problem using a hex disk editor to restore the FAT, but I wouldn't know what data to modify - I'd probably ruin what's still good.

If all the programs I tested say the FAT is in good condition, maybe the problem is in the MBR?
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  1. YAY! Problem solved.

    Thanks to the help of one wonderful tiny little piece of software (only 2 Kb), FP.SYS, I managed to make all the files on the corrupt partition perfectly readable again.

    It works as a DOS driver loaded in config.sys, and makes any drive with corrupt FAT partitions recognizable by the OS as a read-only drive (even under Windows). It's actually very simple, but worked for me. It can be found at:

    Hope it helps anyone who goes through similar problems.
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