How to Unhide a Partition in XP

Written by james dalton
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Computer manufacturers often create a hidden recovery partition on Microsoft Windows XP computers. The recovery partition is used to store files that are copied to the main system partition during a recovery operation. Hidden partitions cannot be accessed from within Windows XP. The Disk Management graphical interface tool cannot unhide partitions, but it can display important information about them. Use the Diskpart command line utility to unhide and access hidden partitions, using the information discovered in Disk Management.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Click the "Start" button, right-click "My Computer" and then select "Manage" from the list that appears.

  2. 2

    Expand "Storage" and then click "Disk Management" in the left pane.

  3. 3

    Take note of the disk number that the hidden partition resides on. This appears in the graphical representation in the right pane.

  4. 4

    Take note of the location of the hidden partition within the disk. The numbering starts at 1 and moves from left to right. For example, if the hidden partition is the leftmost partition on the disk, it is number 1.

  5. 5

    Take note of the file system type of the hidden partition. It should either be "FAT32" or "NTFS."

  6. 6

    Click the "Start" button, "All Programs," "Accessories" and then "Command Prompt."

  7. 7

    Type "diskpart" and then press "Enter."

  8. 8

    Type "select disk 0" and then press "Enter." Change the "0" to the target disk number, if the hidden partition is not located on disk 0.

  9. 9

    Type "select partition 1" and then press "Enter." Change the "1" to the target partition number, if the hidden partition is not the first one on the disk.

  10. 10

    Type "detail partition" and then press "Enter." Ensure that the selected partition is in fact hidden by verifying that "Yes" appears after "Hidden" in the details list. If it does not, select different disks or partitions using the information previously collected until the correct partition is found.

  11. 11

    Take note of the two-digit hex number next to "Type" in the details list.

  12. 12

    Type "set type=07," if the file system type is NTFS, or "set type=0B," if the file system type is FAT32. Press "Enter."

  13. 13

    Type "Assign" and then press "Enter" to assign the next available drive letter to the unhidden partition.

Tips and warnings

  • Reset the type to the original number if any problems occur. Some FAT32 partitions may have to be set to type "0C" to be visible.
  • Exercise extreme caution with this procedure. Using Diskpart incorrectly can cause permanent data loss or make the system unbootable. Back up all your important data up before proceeding.

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