By Lora / Last update June 9, 2022

Overview of ext4/ext3 partition recovery

how-to-recover-ext4-partitions

To manage data and files in a better way, hard drives are divided into several partitions to store different data. Some users may have a partition to store important files, and another used as a backup partition, etc.

   
   
   
       

I’m looking for help with an ext3 partition, I was using the drive as storage and have lost the whole data partition. It’s a relatively new drive so I’d be surprised if it was a physical issue.

       

- Question from Techsupport

   

In this user case, an ext3 partition loss occurred, which is fairly bothering. Partition loss can be upsetting, especially when you use this partition to keep your important data or files.

Some users may have got their ext4/ext3 hard drive dropped, causing physical damage; some may have accidentally deleted it; some else may have encountered drive letter loss, errors or viruses, etc.

No matter how the partition is lost, retrieving the lost partition is the first course. Now, this article aims at offering a detailed guide for Windows users to recover ext4/ext3 partitions, but prior to that, having a basic image of ext4/ext3 is a better bet.

About ext4/ext3

To guide you to recover lost or deleted ext4/ext3 partitions better, let’s talk about ext4 and ext3 first.

Ext3, released in 2001, and whose full name is third extended filesystem, just as its name implies, is a journaling file system that is frequently used in Linux OS; also it is available for Windows users through an IFS.

Compared to ext2, it introduced the Journal mechanism, and data integrity and usability are ensured with ext3: it can avoid the destruction of the file system by an unexpected crash.

Here are some features of ext3.

File size: It supports files with a size up to 2TB.
Journal level: It offers 3 journal levels: Journal, Ordered, and Writeback; risk levels rise in ascending order.
Speed: Disk read-and-write heads are optimized, offering a higher speed than ext2.
Undelete: ext3 doesn’t support deleted files recovery, which is pretty inconvenient for users – they have to perform partition recovery or data recovery instead of just undelete their files.

Ext4, the fourth extended filesystem released in 2006, is the successor to ext3. It is available for Windows users through Ext2Fsd.

Features of ext4:

File size: It supports utmost 1 Eib partition and 16TB files.
Subdirectory: Compared to ext3(32,000 subdirectories), it has unlimited subdirectories.
Compatibility: users could mount ext3 or ext2 as ext4, because it is backward-compatible, which is fairly convenient for users.

There are several types of file systems, like FAT, fat32, exFAT, etc. Users may need to recover FAT32 partitions when partitions are deleted carelessly.

 With some limitations, is it still possible to recover ext3 or etx4 partitions?

Are ext4/ext3 partitions recoverable?

A simple answer is yes. Of course, you can recover ext3/ext4 partitions in Windows from hard drives. But there is one thing required: no data overwriting.

That is to say, after your partition is deleted, or missing, keep the hard drive what it was, and DO NOT do any further operations like:

  • Adding/moving files to the ext3/ext4 hard drive;
  • Creating a partition from the unallocated space;
  • Formatting or reformatting the hard drive;
  • Rebuilding the partition table (MBR or GPT).

As long as the hard drive is intact, no overwriting will occur, and your data in it will be safe, and thus it is highly possible to recover ext3/ext4 partitions with the data in it.

Methods to recover ext4/ext3 partitions

How do you restore ext3/ext4 partitions? Firstly you need to specify how your partition is: is it lost? Or is it deleted by yourself? Corresponding solutions are ready for you.

Case 1. Recover lost ext4/ext3 partition via Command Prompt

If you head over to “This PC” and find your ext3/ext4 partition is not there, but you didn’t delete it, then perhaps is just invisible because of drive letter loss.

Drive letter loss could occur when being changed, and sometimes disk formatting can lead to drive letter loss.

Now you could follow the steps to get lost ext3/ext4 partitions back. If this method does not apply to your situation, or you want an easier, faster way to retrieve ext3/ext4 partitions, you might as well use professional partition recovery software in Case 2.

Notes:✎...
Command prompt, as a command-line app, has no simple user interface, which is quite difficult for common users, please use it carefully to avoid using wrong commands.

Step 1. Input “Command Prompt” in the Windows search box > “Run as administrator”.

Step 2. Input “diskpart” > press Enter.

Step 3. Input “list disk” to show all the hard drives.

Step 4. Input “select disk X” to select the ext3/ext4 drive. Replace the “X” with the real number of the drive.

Step 5. Input “list volume” to see all the volumes on the drive.

Step 6. Find the exact partition without a drive letter, input “select volume Y”. Please replace the “Y” with the real number of the volume.

Step 7. Then input “assign letter = Z”. The letter you chose should be different from all the existing drive letters.

cmd-recover-lost-partition-ext4

Then you could get access to the ext3/ext4 partition again.

Case 2. Recover deleted ext4/ext3 partition using AOMEI Partition Assistant

How to recover ext4/ext3 partitions easily and safely? Instead of using Command Prompt, it is a much more sagacious choice to use a well-designed partition recovery tool.

AOMEI Partition Assistant, designed by the leading enterprise in the data recovery industry, possesses an intuitive user interface, advanced searching algorithms, as-easy-as-abc steps, and a high recovery rate.

With so many features it can help you restore lost/deleted partitions in a breeze, and also, you could manage your partitions or drives efficiently with its help: create, move, resize, convert, format, merge, split partitions, etc.

Notes:✎...
With high compatibility, AOMEI Partition Assistant supports Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/Server; Windows 7 users could get deleted Win 7 partitions back easily.
If you are a Windows Server user, please upgrade it to Server Edition.

Step 1. Download AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro Demo for a free trial.

Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. Run the program > Locate “Partition recovery wizard” > select the ext3/ext4 drive> click “Next”.

click-partition-recovery-wizard

Step 3. Select a search mode according to your needs. Try “Fast Search” first, if it doesn’t work, try “Full Search”. “Full Search” scans sector by sector to locate your deleted partition, and it takes longer.

fast-search-full-search

Step 4. Select the lost partition you need to recover > “Proceed”.

select-lost-partitions-ext4

Thus you could retrieve deleted ext3/ext4 partitions with ease. Not only recovering partitions on internal hard drives but it is also feasible to restore deleted volume on external hard drives

Further reading: how to prevent ext4/ext3 partition from being lost?

Losing a partition can be frustrating, especially if you rely on it to store vital data or files. Though you could recover ext4/ext3 partitions with the help of data recovery software, it is much safer to prevent them from being lost at the very beginning.

It is never too late to back up your partition and data. To protect your data firmly, it is highly recommended to utilize AOMEI Backupper, a professional data backup utility.

With the help of features like “Disk Backup”, “System Backup”, “File Backup”, etc., you could have your data kept safe and sound.