6 proven solutions to fix RAW SD memory cards on Windows

By Vivian | Posted to Data Recovery on July 23rd, 2019 |

Summary: You must be confused when your SD memory card becomes RAW and asks for formatting. Can't access files on this RAW SD card? Simply recover data from RAW SD cards with iBoysoft Data Recovery so that you can repair RAW SD cards without data loss.

Memory cards, including SD cards, micro SD cards, CF cards, etc., are frequently used in digital cameras, mobile phones, laptops and media players. Among these storage media, the SD card is the most widely used one. However, SD memory cards are so fragile that they easily become corrupted or RAW for some reasons.

Therefore, we write this article to help users fix the RAW SD memory card issue on Windows, troubleshooting this problem which has been bothering many people.

Hopefully, your trouble is also included!

Table of contents
1. Why your SD memory cards became RAW?
2. How to tell if an SD memory card becomes RAW?
3. How to recover data from RAW SD memory cards?
4. How to repair RAW SD memory cards on Windows computer?

Why your SD memory cards became RAW?

File system, as you may know, controls how data is stored and retrieved in SD cards, external hard drives, or USB flash drives, etc. Some common file systems recognized by Windows include NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, etc. However, a RAW file system is a state that the file system is unknown for Windows OS. That's to say, Windows OS is unable to recognize the type of the file system of your drive, or there is no file system at all.

As a result, you can't open this drive, nor access the files on it.

You may be curious about why it becomes RAW, even though it just worked well last time you used it. Well, the reasons could be varied and here are some of them.

  • The SD card is aging after long-term usage.
  • The SD card has bad sectors after improper operations. For instance, you abruptly unplugged the SD card without safe ejection, or interrupted the disk formatting process, etc.
  • The SD memory card is infected with some viruses that corrupt the file system of this drive.
  • Partition table or some other internal files of this card get lost or damaged.

Also, some other factors also can damage your drive and make your disk become inaccessible. Then how can you tell if you encounter the RAW SD memory card problems?

How to tell if an SD memory card becomes RAW?

Usually, you will be able to read and write to files on an SD card when you plug it into your computer or camera. But once you meet a "RAW" error, things will not go that way.

Here is a real case from Tom's Hardware:

It's a 32 GB SD card. I recently got it from a friend, and there were issues while I tried to copy files from a Windows computer to it. There was a lot of freezing and failing. And after I removed it once, my computer wouldn't recognize it. It says this SD card is not formatted and needs to be formatted. So, I tried to access it on my android phone, which apparently failed too. It says "blank SD card or has unsupported filesystem" now. How can I recover my SD card now? I mean, there are some photos that I can't lose, so I want to get it working again.

Actually, the user above is facing one of the RAW SD memory card problems.

How do you know if you are confronted with the RAW file system issue? Most of the time, the system will inform you with an error message or display an abnormal information on the screen as below.

1. You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it

One of the most common error messages is " You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it. Do you want to format it?" when you try to access this SD card in Windows Explorer.

You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it

Do you want to format it? Probably not.

If you know that "format" means wiping files out of the SD card, you would not click "Format disk" when you have loads of photos, videos, songs, etc. on this card.

2. SD cards show 0 bytes space in Properties

If you check the property of your SD card in Windows Explorer, you will find another performance of RAW file system. The SD memory card will show 0 bytes storage capacity, both used and free spaces. Moreover, there is no recognizable file system type is indicated, just as the below image appears.

SD cards show 0 bytes space in Disk Management

3. SD cards show RAW file system in Disk Management

If you are an experienced Windows users who regularly use Disk Management, a built-in disk management tool for Windows, you will find the file system of this SD card is RAW or without a filesystem type. But in a normal case, it is supposed to be NTFS, FAT32, or other Windows supported file system.

SD card shows RAW file system in Disk Management

As a matter of fact, there are some other error messages you may receive when you facing the RAW external drives problem.

For example:

  • "This 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."
  • "The disk image isn't initialized, contains partitions that aren't recognizable, or contains volumes that haven't been assigned drive letters. Please use the Disk Management snap-in to make sure that the disk, partitions, and volumes are in a usable state."

No matter what message you may receive, once your SD card becomes RAW, you will be unable to access the files stored on this disk. Furthermore, you would not want to format this disk directly when you have precious photos, videos, or other important files on this SD memory card.

Then how can you recover files from the RAW SD card under these situations?

How to recover data from RAW SD memory cards?

Indeed, recovering files from RAW memory card is rather easy if you know reliable SD card data recovery software.

What is the best SD memory card data recovery software?

iBoysoft Data Recovery is one of the best SD card data recovery software to recover data from RAW drives. This software is recommended because it can recover deleted/lost photos, documents, videos, movies, etc. from SD cards easily and efficiently. Except for the powerful SD card data recovery, it also can recover data from hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.

Best SD card data recovery software

  • Recover files from SDSC, SDHC, SDXC, SDUC cards.
  • Recover data from RAW, formatted, inaccessible, and corrupted SD cards.
  • Recover files from hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, CF cards, memory cards, USB sticks, etc.
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003

Read-only & risk-free

How to recover data from RAW SD cards with the best SD card recovery software?

With this useful data recovery program, you can recover data from this RAW SD card with no fuss.

Here is how.

Step 1: Firstly, you need to download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery on your computer, and then launch it.

Step 2: Then connect your RAW SD memory card to your computer.

Step 3: Select this RAW disk, check "Deep scan" at the lower left, and then click “Next" to scan for files on it.

Recover data from hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 3: Choose data you want to get back in the scanning results. You can double-click these files to preview them if you want to make sure they are intact.

Recover data from unbootable Windows hard drive

Step 4: Select files you need to recover and click on "Recover" to get them back.

After recovering files from this RAW SD memory card, you can go ahead to fix it without worrying about data loss.

How to repair RAW memory cards on Windows computer?

If you are depressed by the RAW issue at this moment in time, this part would be a great relief because it provides 6 feasible solutions.

Now, have a deep breath to calm down and check them one by one.

They are very easy to proceed!

Solution 1: Connect this SD card to another computer

Have you tried this simple trick? It's claimed to be one of the most simple but efficient ways to repair corrupted SD cards. You can either re-plug this SD card into a different hub or access it through another card reader. What's more, you can also try to connect it to a Mac computer and see if it works.

Solution 2: Run Antivirus software to fix RAW partitions

If you have no issues with the connections, it is possible that the file system of this SD memory card is corrupted by some malware or viruses. Therefore, if you have anti-virus software installed, you can simply eliminate the malware or virus by using your anti-virus tool.

Solution 3: Change drive letter to reload file system

If your computer still can't recognize the file system of this SD card, you can change the disk drive letter to repair RAW file system. Why this could be helpful? It's because when you change a letter of an external drive, the OS will reload the file system of this disk as well as repair some minor internal errors.

Therefore, you can try this way out.

Step 1: Right-click on This PC/My Computer on the desktop and choose Manage to open Computer Management.

Step 2: Find Disk Management in the left sidebar and open it.

Step 3: Locate the RAW SD memory card in the right column and right-click on it.

Step 4: Choose Change Drive Letter and Paths… to open another dialogue box.

Change Drive Letter and Paths

Step 5: Choose the letter of your SD card and click on the Change button.

Change Drive Letter and Paths 2

Step 6: Select a drive letter in the drop-down menu and click on OK.

Note: When you see the message "Some programs that rely on drive letters might not run correctly. Do you want to continue" pops up, you can just click Yes as long as you have no program installed on this SD card.

Solution 4: Uninstall disk driver

Sometimes, the Windows OS won't read your SD card probably because the disk driver fails to work. In this case, you can try to uninstall or update it to fix the "unrecognizable file system" on your computer.

So, let's get it.

Step 1: Right-click on This PC/My Computer on the desktop and choose Manage to open Computer Management.

Step 2: Find Device Manager in the left sidebar and open it.

Step 3: Expand Disk drives and choose the name of the RAW SD card.

Step 4: Right-click on its name and choose Uninstall and click OK.

Uninstall/upgrade SD card disk driver

Step 5: Disconnect your SD card, reboot your computer, and then re-connect your SD memory card.

In this process, the system will reinstall the disk driver or remind you to update the outdated disk driver.

Solution 5: Repair SD card with Check Disk utility

Since the file system of your SD card could be corrupted or damaged, the essential part of fixing this issue is to repair the file system. Fortunately, you can troubleshoot and repair your SD card in with a user-friendly tool called Check Disk on your Windows computer.

You can use Check Disk either in Windows Explorer and in Command Prompt.

Option 1: Repair RAW SD cards with Check Disk in Windows Explorer

Step 1: Click on This PC/My Computer and access Windows Explorer.

Step 2: Find your SD card, right-click on it, and then choose Properties.

Step 3: Switch to Tools tab and click Check.

check disk in disk property

Step 4: Check both Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.

check disk in disk property

Step 5: Press Start to proceed to repair this SD card.

Option 2: Repair RAW SD memory drive with CHKDSK command

You can also try command prompt to fix this SD card. CHKDSK is short for check disk, and it literally means you can check the problematic disk on your Windows computer when some errors occur.

Tips: If you are not familiar with the command line, don't be scared. All you need to do is to type the exact words as displayed in the following steps.

Step 1: In the Start menu, type in cmd in the searching box.

Step 2: Choose cmd.exe or Command Prompt in the searching result, right-click on it, and then choose "Run as administrator".

Step 3: Type in chkdsk E: /f in the command window. (You need to replace "E" with the drive letter of your SD card.)

Step 4: Hit Enter to start fixing any found errors in this SD card.

If you manage to finish this operation, your memory card will be working again. Nevertheless, if you see the error "The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives", it means this process is failed and you can only move forward to this next method.

The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives

Solution 6: Reformat this RAW SD card

If you have made all efforts with the aforementioned solutions but in vain, you probably need to format this disk to fix this RAW file system issue.

No important files on this SD card? Great! You can set about reformatting this drive, and you have three options as below.

Warning: Reformatting will erase data on your SD card. So, if you have important files on this disk, you'd better first recover files from this RAW drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery. But if you have formatted this disk, you can recover lost files from this formatted SD card with iBoysoft Data Recovery as well.

Option 1: Convert RAW to NTFS/FAT32 in Windows Explorer.

1. Find your SD card in Windows Explorer and right-click on it.

2. Choose Format in the menu.

3. Select a file system for the drive from the drop-down box, check Quick format, and then click the Format button to make sure this operation.

Convert RAW to NTFS/FAT32 in Windows Explorer.

Option 2: Convert RAW to NTFS/FAT32 in Disk Management.

Similarly, if you haven't closed the window of Disk Management, or if you can reopen Disk Management with steps mentioned before, reformatting can also be done there.

1. Open Disk Management and right-click on the RAW drive.

2. Choose Format and finish the necessary information like the file system, name, etc.

Reformat RAW SD card in Disk Management

3. Check Perform a quick format and click OK.

Option 3: Convert RAW to NTFS/FAT32 with CMD

You can also finish this process with advanced command prompt if you prefer. There is a command line called DiskPart that helps you to manage your PC's drives (disks, partitions, volumes, or virtual hard disks), and here is how to fix RAW partition with DiskPart.

Reformat RAW SD card in cmd

1. Open and run Command Prompt as administrator.

2. When the command prompt open, type in diskpart and hit Enter.

3. Type in list volume to list all drives on your computer.

4. Find the identification number of the RAW SD card. (Take volume 2 as an example)

5. Type in select volume 2 and hit Enter. (You need to replace "2" with the number of your RAW partition.)

6. Type in format fs=ntfs Quick to convert RAW file system to NTFS.

Tips: This command line will format your SD memory card with NTFS file system. If you want to convert RAW to FAT32, type in format fs=fat32 Quick in step 6 instead.

However, it is possible that the Windows was unable to complete the format when the SD card has too much bad sectors or is physically damaged. In this case, if the solutions above didn't solve your problem, you should send it to a local data recovery service as soon as possible.


There is no guarantee that you won't run into a RAW SD memory card issue again. Therefore, when you use storage devices like SD card, USB flash drives, etc., a good habit like always ejecting drives properly or backing up files regularly could be a lifesaver in some cases.

Hope it be helpful!

Anyway, if you succeed in repairing your RAW SD card with solutions or have other proven solutions, don't hesitate to let us know.


Vivian likes to share technical tips and solutions with people, especially in macOS and Windows data recovery tricks. Being a part of @iBoysoft, she has solved many computing and technological problems for readers with ease.

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