How to fix/repair RAW external hard drive?

Your external hard drive suddenly changed to RAW? Confused how to fix it without losing data? This post gets you all covered. You can recover the important files first with iBoysoft Data Recovery.

By Jessica | Updated to Data Recovery on June 12th, 2019 |

Hey guys, today I was using my external hard drive and it suddenly got really slow. So I safely removed the HDD and plugged it back in again. When I plugged it in it didn't open up and I could access any of the files. When I checked my disk management it showed that it turned in a RAW format. Is there any method can help to fix RAW external hard drive as well as get my lost data back? Thanks!

- A Case from Microsoft Community

Situations are very common where an external hard drive and other storage devices such as USB flash drives and SD memory cards suddenly becomes RAW.

This article will show you how to fix RAW external hard drives without losing data. Let's start.

Table of contents
1. Is your external hard drive RAW file system?
2. Why does your external hard drive suddenly switch to RAW?
3. How to fix a RAW external hard drive without formatting?
4. How to fix a RAW external hard drive without losing data?
5. Conclusion

Is your external hard drive RAW file system?

It's so common that when you connect an external hard drive X to your Windows computer, you may receive one of these messages as below, which means your external hard drive probably became RAW.

1."The disk in drive X is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?"

2."X:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable."

3."You need to format the disk in drive X: before you can use it. Do you want to format it?"

You need to format the drive before you can use it

4. "X:\ is not accessible. The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted."

Moreover, if your external drive showed "unknown" in partition information under Disk Management or capacity of the external hard drive was 0 bytes and showed RAW in File Explorer, you have a RAW external hard drive.

capacity shows o bytes on external hard drive

Let's get started to fix your RAW external hard drive right now!

Why does your external hard drive suddenly become RAW?

RAW file system refers to the state when the file system of a drive has been lost or can't be recognized by the operating system.

The file systems of a drive can be lost or damaged for multiple reasons:

1. Bad sectors

If there are bad sectors in the area of an external hard drive where stores the information for the operating system to recognize the file system, the external hard drive will not be recognized by the operating system and becomes RAW.

2. File system structural damage

The RAW external hard drive is surely involved with the problem of file system, so a damaged file system structure will be showing as a RAW drive or partition.

3. Partition table corruption

If the partition table is corrupted in the external hard drive, the operating system is not able to recognize the file system and takes it as a RAW partition.

4. Virus and malware attacks

Virus and malware attacks can cause damage to key information for the operating system to recognize the file system, like partition table, root directory, etc.

5. Unsafely ejection

It is very common that people just pull out the external hard drive violently without ejecting it safely first. This action probably results in damaged or corrupted external hard drive or even hardware issues.

6. Unexpected shutdown

When the operating system is reading from or writing to the external hard drive, the sudden power off will interrupt the process and cause damage to the file system or hardware.

The widely-accepted way to repair the RAW external hard drive is to format it into a recognizable file system such as NTFS . However, directly formatting the RAW external hard drive will erase the original data, which will possibly cause severe data loss.

Keep reading to see how to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting it and without data loss.

How to fix a RAW external hard drive without formatting

External hard drive became RAW suddenly

If you don't want to format your RAW external hard drive, you can try to fix it by using CMD command - CHKDSK.

CHKDSK is a command that can be run to scan the integrity of file system and file system metadata on a disk volume and fix any logical file system errors that it finds.

Follow the steps to fix your RAW external hard drive by CHKDSK:

  1. Step 1: Connect the RAW external hard drive to your PC.
  2. Step 2: Press Win + R to open search bar and type in "cmd" and hit Enter.
  3. Step 3: Type the following command in the Command Prompt window - "chkdsk external hard drive letter: /f /r /x. If your external hard drive letter is G, so the input should look like - "chkdsk G: /f /r /x".
  4. Step 4: If you see the message "Windows had made corrections to the file system. No further action is required.", you have fixed the corrupted external hard drive without formatting.

If this method looks too technical, here is a quick move to run CHKDSK.

  1. Step 1: Double-click This PC to open it.
  2. Step 2: Find and right-click the RAW external hard drive and choose Properties.
  3. Step 3: Click the Tool at the tool bar and click the Check button beside the external hard drive.

Unfortunately, CHKDSK is not available for RAW drive very often, especially when the file system is seriously corrupted or damaged. Moreover, there could be risk to run CHKDSK command because it sometimes over-repairs the file system, which will cause data loss.

How to fix a RAW external hard drive without losing data?

If the methods mentioned above can't make the external hard drive readable and files accessible, you will have to format the RAW external hard drive.

However, before you format the external hard drive, you need to recover the files in that corrupted external hard drive with the help of third-party data recovery software. It is because formatting process will wipe out all data, which probably makes your files unrecoverable. You will lose your data permanently. Therefore, you need to make sure you have backed up your files, or you need to recover files first.

Best RAW external hard drive data recovery software

As long as your external hard drive doesn't have hardware problem, the best data recovery software - iBoysoft Data Recovery can help you to get lost data back.

iBoysoft Data Recovery is a professional and free data recovery software that can recover data from RAW external hard drive, recover data from formatted external hard drive, unrecognized external hard drive, corrupted external hard drive, inaccessible external hard drive, not formatted external hard drive, recover files deleted or lost from external hard drive, etc. on Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003.

Best RAW external hard drive data recovery - iBoysoft Data Recovery

  • Recover any file types on PC
  • Recover data from both internal drives and external drives
  • Recover data from formatted/RAW/deleted partition
  • Recover data from Bitlocker encrypted partition
  • Support NTFS, exFAT and FAT32 formatted drives' data recovery

Read-only & risk-free

Follow the steps below to recover data from RAW external hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery:

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery on your computer.

Step 2: Connect the RAW external hard drive to your computer.

Step 3: Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery, and select the RAW external hard drive.

Step 4: Click Next to search for all lost files on the RAW external hard drive.

Step 5: Preview the listed recoverable files, choose those you want, and click Recover button to get them back.

iBoysoft Data Recovery

Note: The program provides two scan modes - Quick scan (default) and Deep scan. If you don't find all your lost files after Quick scan. Click Back to home window and check Deep scan. Hit Next again and scanning process will start over to find more lost files for you.

3 methods to reformat the RAW external hard drive

If you don't have any important files on the RAW external hard drive or you have recovered all files, you can format the RAW external hard drive to FAT/FAT32/exFAT/NTFS.

Here are three ways to convert the RAW external hard drive to NTFS:

Method 1:

Follow the steps to change the RAW external hard drive into NTFS using CMD:

Step 1: Connect the RAW external hard drive to your PC.

Step 2: Press Win + R to open the search bar and type in "cmd" and hit Enter.

Step 3: Type "G: /FS :NTFS" and in the Command Prompt window press Enter. (G represents the RAW external hard drive letter.)

Now your RAW external hard drive would have NTFS file system and you can access to the data on this unreadable and inaccessible external hard drive again.

Method 2:

You can also convert the RAW external hard drive to NTFS by using Diskpart command.

Step 1: Connect the RAW external hard drive to teh PC.

Step 2: Press Windows + R and search "diskpart" and hit Ok.

Step 3: Type "list volume" in the Command Prompt window to list all the available partitions and drives, then press Enter. According to the listed disk/partition information, identify which drive/partition you want to clean. For example, F drive is your target drive you want to select and it is Volume 3.

Step 4: Now type "select Volume 3" and press Enter. Be sure to choose the correct drive/partition.

Step 5: Type "format fs=ntfs quick" and press Enter.

Finally, you can type "exit" and press Enter to close the command prompt. Till now, you can see the NTFS formatted drive in My Computer and take use of it.

To be honest, the methods mentioned won't work again if the file system is seriously corrupted or damaged.

Methods 3:

Besides, you can format the RAW external hard drive into NTFS or FAT/FAT32/exFAT by following the steps below:

Step 1: Go to This PC, find the RAW external hard drive.

Step 2: Right-click the RAW external hard drive to choose Format.

Step 3: Set up format information as NTFS or FAT/FAT32/exFAT, allocation unit size, volume label and format options (the default format option is Quick Format).

Step 4: Click Start and the format operation will finish within minutes.

Tips: If you want to make your external hard drive compatible with macOS and Windows, format it into exFAT/FAT32/FAT because you can't write to NTFS drives on macOS.

Conclusion

Raw external hard drive or RAW hard disk partition can result in permanent data loss if you don't handle it properly. Windows has built-in programs to help users to fix minor issues of the file system in the external hard drives or other removable drives such as USB flash drives, SD memory cards, etc.

However, when the file system of an external hard drive is seriously damaged and corrupted, you will have to turn to third-party data recovery software, like iBoysoft Data Recovery, to recover files first.

After formatting the RAW external hard drive into FAT/FAT32/exFAT/NTFS, you will be able to use it again on Windows.

Jessica

Jessica, a data recovery expert @iBoysoft, loves to share free and useful data recovery solutions with people to help them get their important files back on Windows and Mac.

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