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I am running Debian Squeeze in my laptop. I did a big mistake. Instead of doing fdisk /dev/sdb (which is my usb pendrive), I fdisk-ed /dev/sda, which is my primary hdd. When prompted, I chose options o and w and the reboot my machine.

Now, I cannot start my machine as it says no OS found.

Is it that, all my data is lost or only the partition table? How do we recover the data?

Edit:- Initially I had 5 partitions. The partitions are as follows:- A 105 GB for Windows installation, a 170 GB for storing data (possible NTFS), another 170 GB (possibly NTFS), a 1 GB (swap space) and 20 GB (ext4 partition). I was having a debian squeeze and win 7 dual boot.

105 GB 170 GB 170 GB 1 GB 20 GB

After loading an Ubuntu live cd, when I tried to see whether any partition structure exist using the Gpart command like,

sudo gpart /dev/sda

I got the following output:

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sudo gpart /dev/sda

Begin scan...
Possible partition(Windows NT/W2K FS), size(107419mb), offset(59139mb)
Possible partition(DOS FAT), size(2mb), offset(187738mb)
End scan.

Checking partitions...
Partition(OS/2 HPFS, NTFS, QNX or Advanced UNIX): primary 
Partition(Primary DOS with 12 bit FAT): primary 

Guessed primary partition table:
Primary partition(1)
   type: 007(0x07)(OS/2 HPFS, NTFS, QNX or Advanced UNIX)
   size: 107419mb #s(219996159) s(121117248-341113406)
   chs:  (1023/254/63)-(1023/254/63)d (7539/51/1)-(21233/83/33)r

Primary partition(2)
   type: 001(0x01)(Primary DOS with 12 bit FAT)
   size: 2mb #s(4544) s(384488496-384493039)
   chs:  (1023/254/63)-(1023/254/63)d (23933/77/1)-(23933/149/8)r

Primary partition(3)
   type: 000(0x00)(unused)
   size: 0mb #s(0) s(0-0)
   chs:  (0/0/0)-(0/0/0)d (0/0/0)-(0/0/0)r

Primary partition(4)
   type: 000(0x00)(unused)
   size: 0mb #s(0) s(0-0)
   chs:  (0/0/0)-(0/0/0)d (0/0/0)-(0/0/0)r


The screenshot is at enter image description here

Shall I continue to write to the disk ? Does the partitions shown match my previous partitions as I mentioned ?

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migrated from May 20 '13 at 10:13

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

As per the faq, this site is not about anything in a home setting – dawud May 20 '13 at 7:46
Time to pull out your backups – Mark Henderson May 20 '13 at 7:47
@MarkHenderson inb4 "backups? what backups?" – tombull89 May 20 '13 at 7:58
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Boot from a Live CD and try using testdisk or gpart utilities, which can in many cases find lost partitions automatically. One popular Live CD distribution suited for such recovery tasks is SystemRescueCd.

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Please see the edits in my question. – Roshan George May 20 '13 at 11:49
Try sudo gpart -k 2048 -n 2048 /dev/sda — Microsoft operating systems since Windows Vista and recent Linux distributions usually align partitions to 1 MiB boundaries, which does not match the default gpart assumptions. If gpart still does not find your partitions, you can also try sudo gpart -k 1 -n s /dev/sda, but this can take a very long time. – Sergey Vlasov May 20 '13 at 12:05
Thanks for the suggestio. Can you look at the scrrenshot and the partitions I specified. Does that match ? – Roshan George May 20 '13 at 13:48
Also, I am using Ubuntu 10.10 live cd. – Roshan George May 20 '13 at 13:55
Your partition definitely were not found correctly — try adding -k 2048 -n 2048 as suggested. Using Ubuntu 10.10 might be OK — gpart is not updated very often. – Sergey Vlasov May 20 '13 at 14:05

If the old table is recoverable testdisk should find it. If not - you may be able to get the data by using testdisk's data recovery option or try dd or ddrecscue to get a copy of the hard-drive on disk (assuming you create a scenario where you have a free hard-drive to rescue the data to). If you can get the data you can re-create the partiontion table and then put your data back on. The good news is that most-likely your data is still on that drive.

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I tried using test-disk, but i'm unsure how to use it. – Roshan George May 22 '13 at 3:21

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