What Does a RAW Hard Drive Mean and How to Fix It? – A Complete Guide

Been through this annoying situation when you tried to access files from the hard drive but ended up getting an error message? It is worrying because there are important files and folders on the drive, and you can’t afford to lose access to all these files. So when you try to access the drive, an error message pops up asking you to format the drive.

RAW Partition

What Does RAW Hard Drive Mean?

A RAW file system means that the file system cannot be recognized by the operating system. All the data stored on the hard disk is organized by the file system. So when the file system gets corrupted or damaged, the OS cannot recognize it. The state of the hard drive becomes RAW, and data stored on it becomes inaccessible. Moreover, the disk space is displayed as zero bytes.

When your external hard drive has turned RAW then this might be because of the below scenarios

  • The entire drive has turned RAW.
  • Only one partition of the hard drive has turned RAW.

Scenario 1: The entire Disk has turned RAW

If you are running on an Operating system that does not recognize the file system of your hard drive then in such case the hard drive becomes RAW. At this moment the hard drive will not allow any access to the storage. This will result in the used space as unused space will be shown as Zero.

This is to say that the data on the RAW disk is lost. You cannot access the data on the RAW drive nor can you transfer it to any other drive.  In such cases stick to this article to know how to fix RAW hard drive.

Scenario 2: Only One Partition Is RAW

In this scenario only one of the partitions becomes RAW and the other partitions work in normal state. If you click on the RAW partition then an error message gets displayed “You need to format the disk”.

In case you are looking to format the drive, then formatting will result in data loss. Try the troubleshooting methods mentioned in this article before formatting the drive.

Why Does The Hard Drive Turn RAW?

There are various reasons for a hard drive to turn RAW. Some of the reasons include – when the Partition table is damaged, MBR corruption, changing the file system frequently, abruptly ejecting the external hard drive from the system when files are in a transfer, and so on.

How To Fix RAW External Hard Drive?

To fix external hard drives that have turned raw, follow the troubleshooting methods below.

Method 1: Fix Raw External Hard Drive Without Formatting

If the disk displays RAW but still has a drive letter, you can try to fix it without formatting it using CMD. Some people claim that CHKDSK isn’t compatible with RAW drives, although this isn’t true. If your external hard disk does show up with a drive letter, you can use CMD to try to fix it. If your external hard disk is shown as RAW without a drive letter, you should follow Method 2.

Note: Running CHKDSK may help to resolve the RAW disk problem, but it may also result in total data loss. As a result, conduct data recovery first using Remo Recover and then use the CMD approach.

  1. Connect your external hard drive to the computer,
  2. Now in the search bar type Command Prompt and Run as Administrator.

Run command prompt as Admistrator

  1. Now Enter CHKDSK E: /f and hit Enter. (where E is RAW external hard drive, you can replace it with your drive letter. )

You can launch Disk Management after the repair process to see if your hard disk has been fixed. Don’t worry if CHKDSK doesn’t function. Move to the next method mentioned below to repair your RAW external hard disk.

Method 2: Change The Drive Letter

You can fix the RAW external hard disk without formatting by changing the drive letter. The Disk Management tool in Windows is ideal for changing the drive letter because it makes the process simple.

  1. Type diskmgmt.msc in the search bar and hit OK
  2. Locate the drive you want to alter the drive letter for in the list.
  3. Change the drive letter and paths by right-clicking the drive and selecting the option Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  4. Select the drive letter you want to assign to the storage device from the drop down box and click on OK.
  5. A message will appear that states something along the lines of, Some programs that rely on drive letters might not run correctly. Do you want to continue? From the drop-down option, choose Yes.

Method 3: Fix RAW Drive-By Formatting Without Losing Data

Make use of partition recovery software such as Remo Recover, to quickly recover files from the RAW partition. The program also aids in the recovery of deleted partitions. It supports the recovery of various file systems like NTFS, FAT32, 16, exFAT, and many more. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac. Follow the steps to recover files from the raw disk.

click here to download Remo Recover

download Remo Recover for Mac

  • From the main screen click on Recover Partition.
  • Now select the drive from which you want to recover data from.

click on recover partition

  • Click on the Scan button. Once the scanning process is done the data will be recovered in the Data Type and File Type View.
  • recovered files in file the file type viewFinally, click on the  Save option to get back restored files to the desired location.click on the save option

Method 4: Format the External Hard Drive To NTFS

Note: Recover files from Mac external hard drive using the above Method 3.

You can format the RAW drive to NTFS after you’ve successfully retrieved files from the RAW external hard drive. The drive will become normal and functional after formatting.

  • Connect your RAW external hard drive to your computer.
  • Select the drive you want to format, then right click on the drive and click on Format.
  • Under the file system drag down menu select NTFS.
  • Under the volume label select the drive name and Check Quick format box.
  • And click on Start to initiate the format process. Wait for the process to end then finally your drive is formatted.

But if your drive is physically damaged, then you need to take the drive to a professional to repair it. To fix the hard drive that has turned RAW, you can carry out the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) test. Being able to effectively analyze the S.M.A.R.T. data on a hard drive enables quick identification of problems that can help in recovering all data from it.

Check if the drive makes noises which it didn’t before. Loud clicking or beeping sound indicates mechanical damage. If the damage is physical, then you need to take it for a repair. Does the S.M.A.R.T. test show any bad attribute values or errors? Does the drive pass the S.M.A.R.T. short self-test? If it doesn’t pass the tests, then the drive needs to be immediately taken to a professional.

If you are unsure of fixing the problem yourself, don’t do it, and risk losing entire data. The most important thing here is to recover data from a RAW hard drive. With the help of the Remo Partition Recovery tool, you can easily get back files from the RAW hard drive. This software thoroughly scans the drive and retrieves files in a safe and easy way.


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