How to Fix Raw External Hard Drive without Formatting?

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Whenever an external hard drive becomes Raw, it becomes unable for you to access your files that are stored in it. Fixing the RAW external hard drive by some of the methods may require formatting, which creates a problem of losing saved files. Therefore, it becomes essential to rectify this RAW external hard drive without formatting or losing any of the data.

Today, you will learn 4 ways that can fix RAW external hard drive without formatting, what exactly causes an external hard drive to become RAW, and more importantly, a perfect method of how to recover files from an external hard drive without formatting.

Part 1. What Causes an External Hard Drive to Become RAW?

Your external hard drive may become RAW at any time that does not allow you to access the stored files and folders. Now, the question is, what exactly causes this problem? There are multiple reasons due to which an external hard drive becomes RAW. Still, most importantly, the problem usually arises when the operating system is unable to recognize a file system and thus can't mount it. You may generally face any of the two situations:

  • One partition is regarded as RAW

  • The Whole Disk gets the uninitialized or RAW status

The multiple reasons that can cause an external hard drive to become RAW are as follows:

  • The file system is not supported by the operating system

  • The file system structure has been damaged

  • A partition is a part of a spanned volume or RAID

  • Access to the partition/file system/disk/drive is prohibited in security settings

  • Disk or volume formatted wrongly or not formatted

  • Virus or malware attack

  • Bad blocks in large numbers and reading errors found

These are some common reasons that can lead to such situations. If you face the same issue, there's no need to worry about it as there are multiple workable ways that will surely help you know how to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting.

Part 2. How to Fix RAW External Hard Drive without Formatting?

If your hard drive has become RAW, and you have essential data stored in it, it is necessary to find a solution that can fix the RAW external hard drive without formatting. Have a look at each one of them in detail and choose the one you find the easiest.

Method 1. Confirm the Issue by Simple Checks

The simple check methods for confirming the issues are as follows:

fix raw external hard drive by simple checks

Use Another USB Port: Switch the USB port into which your external hard drive is plugged into. Sometimes some of the specific USB ports cause an issue; therefore, plugging your external hard drive into another USB port will help you find whether the problem was with the USB port or the hard drive itself.

Uninstall and Reconnect the External Hard Drive: If your external hard drive is a problem-free, then it will work properly after reconnecting; otherwise, not.

Use Another Computer: Try your external hard device on another computer because your computer can be a problem. Try to use your external hard drive into a different computer system to check whether the same issue occurs with this or not. If the issue is faced with another computer as well, then it will be clear that the problem is with the hard drive.

Method 2. Change the Drive Letter

Changing the drive letter will allow you to fix the RAW external hard drive without formatting. For changing the drive letter, the Disk Management tool in Windows is perfectly fine as it helps complete the task with ease. For this:

Step 1: Open disk management tool in Windows.

Step 2: From the list, locate the drive you want to change the drive letter of.

Step 3: Right-click the drive, select the option "Change Drive Letter and Paths", and click on the Change button.

change drive letter

Step 4: From the "Assign the Following Drive Letter" drop-down box, choose the drive letter you want to assign to the storage device and click the OK button.

assign drive letter

Step 5: A popup will come that will read like, "Some programs that rely on drive letters might not run correctly. Do you want to continue?" Choose the "Yes" option.

Method 3. Edit the User Permission of the Drive

Another method for fixing RAW external hard drive without formatting is by editing the user of the drive. To do this, follow the below-mentioned steps:

Step 1: Right-click the folder you want to modify the access permission and select "Properties".

Step 2: Click the "Edit" button from the security tab.

open drive properties

Step 3: Choose the current user and click on the "Edit" button to set the access permissions. Tick the access rights you need and click the "OK" button to apply the changes.

enter object name

Method 4. Run Chkdsk Command

Last but least, running the Chkdsk command is the final method of fixing the external hard drive without formatting. Chkdsk command is a way to detect and correct the error in your driver. With the function of correction, you should know that it might damage the existing data. For running a Chkdsk command, follow the below-mentioned steps:

Step 1: Press Win + R and type CMD. You will see Command Prompt. Click on Run as Administrator.

Step 2: Type chkdsk x: /f and press the Enter key. Here “x” means the letter of RAW partition on an external hard drive. So, replace “x” with the right drive letter.

check disk

Step 3: Wait for the entire process to get completed.

Methods above are all the ways you can fix the RAW external hard drive without formatting. If all things you have done and it is still in RAW format, you might consider formatting your hard drive to make it back to normal. Before that, you still have chances to recover all the files in it.

Part 3. How to Fix RAW External Hard Drive by Formatting without Losing Data?

If you are in urgency, and you need the files in this hard drive immediately, you should directly recover the files rather than trying all the methods one by one. This is how you can fix the external hard drive without losing data in the most efficiently way.

Phase 1. Recover Files from RAW External Hard Drive

Recovering files from RAW external hard drive seems challenging, but it’s not that tough. Since the data can be easily overwritten, and the risk of losing data increase by time, recover files directly from the RAW external hard drive will be the fastest solution thus it is also the best solution to fix the problem.

AnyRecover is a recovery tool that helps you recover all your files and data from the RAW drive into your PC. It is designed and built for the primary purpose of data recovery for  storage mediums so it stands out among all its competitors.

  • You can recover more than 1000 kinds of inaccessible, lost, deleted, or even formatted data, including docs, videos, images, photos and etc. Unfamiliar file formats such as xlsm, xlsb, docm, and dotm can also be recovered.
  • It offers unlimited free scans and preview, so you are able to confirm the files before recovery.
  • The way to use this tool is pretty easy and straightforward.

Have a look at the step by step guide below:

Step 1: Download AnyRecover software on your PC and launch it. After launching, under the “External Removable Devices” tab, choose the external device that you want to recover data from.

select the raw external hard drive to recover the data

Step 2: Click on the “Start” button to initiate an all-round scan on the device you have selected. Once the scanning is completed, all your lost files and data will be listed out correctly.

wait for the tool to finish scanning the hard drive

Step 3: To preview any of the files, you can double click on it. Once you are sure of what you want to recover, click on the “Recover” button.

click to recover the files in the raw external hard drive

Phase 2. Format RAW HDD to HTFS/FAT32

Once you are done with recovering all your files and data from the RAW external hard drive, you can now format the external hard drive from here.

There are 3 formats you can choose to convert the RAW drive to: NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT. Normally, you will be suggested to convert to the NTFS format which is the default option for Windows user. The NTFS format allows users to store larger file size (16TB) than the FAT32 format which only allows 4GB. The exFAT format allows even larger file size and partition size. However, exFAT and NTFS can only be used on Windows computer (exFAT for Windows 7 and later, NTFS for Windows XP and later), while the FAT32 format can be used on all systems including Windows and Mac.

You can easily format the RAW external hard drive with two methods:


Step 1: Connect the RAW external hard drive to your PC. Click Start button and search "commond", then right-click one it and afterward press "Run As Administrator".

Step 2: Type in "Diskpart" and then press Enter.

Step 3: Type "G: /FS :NTFS" and press the Enter key. (G is going to be the drive letter of your RAW storage device; Change the NTFS to FAT32 or exFAT as you like).

format hard drive with cmd

Via File Explorer

Step 1: Open the Window Explorer,and select the My Computer/This PC section in the sidebar, then locate your drive. Right-click on your drive and select "Format".

Step 2: Under the File System, select the format you want to use for the driver.

Step 3: Under the Volume Label, give your drive a name and then check out the Quick Format box.

Step 4: Select Start to initiate the format process. The system will notify you when the process is done, and in a few minutes, your external drive will be formatted.

format hard drive with disk management

FAQ: What Does RAW Drive Mean?

A RAW drive is a state of the hard drive or any other storage device with no known windows file system. As no file system exists on the hard drive, there can be no folders or files on the drive, and it cannot be used further to store more data until fixed. Many reasons can cause this problem. If you want to access the stored files and folders, get it fixed with any of the methods mentioned above.

The RAW file system cannot be recognized and supported by the Windows operating system. Therefore, this does not allow you to access or add any data within. If you want to make the RAW portion useable again, it is essential to format it to a proper file system.

Final Words

That's it, we have covered all methods you can try to fix the RAW external hard drive. If you have any other questions or ideas about this, leave a comment.


By Simon Marcus , to External Device Recovery

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

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