Every hard disk contains an important small piece of data that holds the boot information and partition layout. It is called as MBR, which is short for Master Boot Record. This would mean that the amount of partitions or drive letters created on a hard disk drive are stored on the drive’s MBR. If the MBR is being erased or corrupted by a bootkit virus such as Whistler, you won’t be able to boot into the operating system and probably even losing all of your files that are stored on the hard drive. The files are actually still there untouched which means you can use a data recovery software to get them all back but it would be very time consuming if you have a lot of data on a large hard drive. So it is very important to backup your computer’s Master Boot Record so that you can restore it back if they are being modified.
Another interesting feature that is supported by the Master Boot Record is we can actually hide a partition. For example, you created 2 partitions on a hard drive where the C drive contains the Windows operating system while the D drive is where you save all your important files. Instead of relying on third party encryption software to protect your data that is saved on the D drive, you can simply hide the partition and no one including viruses would even notice that you actually have a D drive. They cannot touch the data if they don’t see it in the first place. MBRWizard is a powerful MBR management utility that comes in two flavors, the freeware command line (CLI) version and the paid graphical version. The command line version of MBRWizard that is free can be used to hide a partition so there is no need to purchase the shareware version of MBRWizard. The most important thing is to identify the drive and partition that you want to hide because wrongly hiding the partition that is used to boot up may result in an unbootable system.
Here is an example scenario of hiding my D: drive using MBRWizard Command Line.
1. Download the freeware version of MBRWizard Command Line from the end of this article and extract it to a new folder.
2. Run an elevated command prompt by pressing the Start button, type cmd in the Search programs and files bar, followed by simultaneously pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter. Click Yes on the User Account Control window.
3. Use the CD command to change to the path of the extracted MBRWizard Command Line.
4. Type MBRWiz.exe /List and hit Enter. Take note of the Disk and Pos number of the drive letter that you want to hide. For my case, I want to hide the D: drive that is located on Disk 0 and Pos 3.
5. To hide the D: drive, type the following command below:
MBRWiz.exe /Hide /Disk=0 /Part=3
6. Restart the computer and D: drive will no longer be shown in My Computer. To unhide the drive, use the command below and reboot.
MBRWiz.exe /UnHide /Disk=0 /Part=3
If you want to automate the task by suppressing the confirmation and rebooting the computer, add the following switches /Confirm and /Shutdown=4 to the command line. It is advisable to use the number 4 option in the shutdown switch instead of 1, 2 or 3 so that it reboots without force to prevent possible data loss.
There are many other usage of MBRWizard, just run MBRWiz /? or check the Reference tab on the website. Another useful feature is setting the partition as Active so you can boot from it. Let’s say if you install Linux or Mac OS on another partition but do not want to use their respective boot loaders, you can easily boot to the other operating system by using the /Active together with the /disk and /part switches, example MBRWiz.exe /Active /Disk=1 /Part=1 (If the OS is installed on another hard drive).
Downloading the free version of MBRWizard CLI is a bit tricky as they don’t provide a direct URL to download the program. Click on the link at the end of this article, followed by clicking on the CLI Freeware from the top menu and finally the Download button located at the bottom right of the Product Details menu. Click the Accept button and you will be forwarded to a page to download the file mbwcli3083.zip.