I’ve struggled through a good portion of today trying to find a freeware, shareware or at the last a full commercial disk recovery product. A USB drive that got unceremoniously dragged by its cable to the floor seemed to have survived - until (of course) I ran chkdsk on it. Immediately following which the drive lost it’s boot sector for it’s only partition.
Windows wanted to format it, Norton just moaned at it, PCI File recovery (an excellent file recovery tool imo) allowed me to confirm that data was recoverable on it, but could not restore the partition. Mbrfix tried to fix it’s mbr, which tells you something of my knowledge of these things.
I’d resigned myself to the £21 plus VAT for Partition Table Doctor, when I eventually found this MS Support article, telling me exactly how to fix my own boot sector by hand. In under five minutes my partition table had been restored to sector 1 from a backup it apparently stores itself in sector 6. My disk was back.
Searching the web for partition, recovery, boot sector, fixboot and restore brings up so many commercial tools it’s as though parting with money is the only option. Not necessarily so.