RAW file system overview: symptoms, causes, and fixes

By Connie | Posted to Home > Wiki, on October 25th, 2021

Summary: This post introduces the RAW file system and its causes. More importantly, telling you how to fix the RAW file system issue.

RAW file system

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What is the RAW file system?

The RAW file system is a state of a storage device like a hard drive that has an unknown or no file system.

Different from standard file systems like NTFS and FAT, the RAW file system can't be recognized by Windows. Therefore, you have no chance to access the RAW drive. And on the other hand, it is also not available for storing data anymore.

Usually, in Disk Management, you can find that the partition is labeled "RAW" or shows no file system type.

The RAW file system show in Disk Management

Possible symptoms of RAW file system

Most of the time, when your disk becomes RAW, you will get one of the following error messages or symptoms on your Windows:

1. When trying to open the drive in File Explorer, an error message pops up as "You need to format the disk in drive E: before you can use it. Do you want to format it?".

2. Error message pops up like "Drive H:\ not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.".

3. Drive properties shows 0 bytes in both used space and free space under the General tag. And the file system shows RAW or even doesn't show file system type.

The disk shows 0 bytes in Properties

4. The partition in Disk Management shows either RAW or doesn't show any file system type.

5. The hint "The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" prompts when you run CHKDSK in Command.

What causes the RAW file system?

In general, the RAW file system is caused by your Windows fails to recognize the partition. So, it feedbacks you an error message and labels the partition with RAW in Disk Management.

But thinking it more deeply and concretely, the RAW file system is usually caused by:

  1. The drive is attacked by a virus.
  2. Unexpected power off when you are using the disk.
  3. The disk has bad sectors.
  4. Your incorrect formatting or repartition operation on the drive.

Solutions to fix RAW file system & get data back

Depending on your scenarios, the fixes for resolving the RAW file system issue vary.

Fix 1: Fix a RAW drive without formatting

If the drive shows RAW with a drive letter, you can run CHKDSK in Command to try to fix it. This helps you fix the RAW drive without formatting.

But if you run CHKDSK improperly, it will cause data loss. So, you'd better try some data recovery software to retrieve your data from the RAW drive first.

Here's how to run CHKDSK to fix the RAW drive:

  • Type "cmd" in the search bar of the taskbar.
  • Right-click the Command Prompt and select Run as administrator to open the CMD.
  • Run Command as administrator
  • Enter the following command and then press Enter. Replace H with your drive letter.
  • chkdsk H: /f

When CHKDSK finishes repairing the RAW disk, open Disk Management to check if the issue is fixed. If CHKDSK can't fix the RAW file system issue, try the following way.

Fix 2: Change RAW file system to NTFS / FAT32

If the RAW drive even doesn't have a drive letter or the above way fails to fix the problem, it indicates that the drive is corrupted. The only way to make it accessible again is to convert the RAW file system to FAT32 or NTFS.

That is to reformat a drive. But formatting will make data loss. You can recover data from it will some professional data recovery tool, like iBoysoft Data Recovery.

Then, get down to reformat the RAW drive to NTFS or FAT32 in File Explorer or Disk Management by right-clicking the drive and select Format.

FAQs about RAW file system:

1. How do you change a RAW file to NTFS?

You can open the File Explorer and select the RAW disk, and then right-click it. Then, select Format > NTFS file system under Format. Next, check Quick Format > click Start. Finally, click OK. Now, you get an NTFS formatted drive.

2. Can Windows read the RAW file system?

No, it can't. The RAW is not a standard file system. It stands for a state that shows your Windows can't recognize the file system of the drive.

3. How do you recover files from a RAW drive?

You can download, install and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery on your PC. Then, select your RAW drive that is listed on the window and click Next. Finally, preview the lost data and click Recover to get them back.