How to Fix RAW External Hard Drive without Formatting

How to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting? This article will show you the possible reasons and 6 corresponding methods. If you end up needing to format it, here is a way to take your data off.


By Ivy / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Overview of RAW External Hard Drive

Sometimes you may receive the following error messages when trying to open external hard drive in Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc and find it is marked as RAW in Disk Management.

It usually indicates your drive does not format with a compatible file system, or it’s missing or corrupted. And, you are unable to access your data in it. However, Microsoft only seems to offer you the formatting option. It will fix this error, but also delete all files in the drive.

It's scary just thinking about it. So many users want to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting. This article will introduce you to the possible reasons and 6 effective methods to help you.

Why Does Your External Hard Drive Suddenly Becomes RAW?

Before further discussing how to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting, we need to get the possible reasons of this error and the following are collections of them.

  • Don’t use the safe eject option. Or disconnect your drive in the middle of read/write operation.
  • Problems with USB port, cable or your machine.
  • Incompatible file system.
  • Missing or damaged file system.
  • Sudden failure due to power outage, connection issue, improper system shutdown, format disruption etc.
  • Bad sectors.
  • Viruses or malware infection.

How to Fix RAW External Hard Drive without Formatting - 6 Methods

After getting the possible reasons, you may have some clues on how to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting. It does not matter if you don’t, we will introduce you to 6 effective methods below.

Way 1: Try Basic Checks First

Here are collections of some simple solutions to fix RAW external HDD quickly. If there is no problems, try the other 5 methods.

  • Use different USB port or cable and see if you can access your external disk. If so, save a copy of your files.
  • Disconnect external hard drive and reconnect it. If it’s problem-free, you can use it properly.
  • Plug external disk into another machine. If your drive is still not accessible, the problem may be with your external disk.

Way 2: Update Disk Drivers

If you don’t update disk driver for a long time, you can also try this.

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Device Manager.

Step 2. Expand Disk drives, right-click the RAW external disk and select Update driver.


Step 3. Click Search automatically for drivers. It will install drivers for the selected disk automatically.


Way 3: Change Drive Letter

If your external hard drive does not have a drive letter, you can try to assign it with a new one.

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Disk Management. Then, find out the RAW external hard drive.

Step 2. Right-click this disk and select Change Drive Letter or Path.


Step 3. In the pop up window, click Change. Then, select a new drive letter and click OK to confirm it.


Way 4: Scan for Viruses or Malware

The viruses or malware infection is one of common reasons for RAW external hard drive. You can use Windows Defender or third-party antivirus software to remove it.

Step 1. Go to Settings > Windows Security and select Virus & threat protection.

Virus Threat Protection

Step 2. Select Scan options under Current threats.

Step 3. Select Custom scan and click Scan now.

Custom Scan

Step 4. Go to This PC and select your external hard drive.

Step 5. Click Select Folder to start the scanning process and remove the found viruses or malware.

Select Folder

Way 5: Perform CHKDSK Command

If your thinks your external disk has bad sectors or other problems, you can try CHKDSK command.

Step 1. Press Win + R to open the Run window. Then, type cmd and click OK to access command prompt with administrator priority.

Step 2. Type chkdsk D: /f /r or chkdsk D: /f /r /x and press Enter.



  • The /f and /r parameters helps to find disk errors and fix it.
  •  The /x parameter is able to mark bad sectors and recover readable information.

You may be able to access your external hard drive and data in it. But this method is not 100% successful, you may receive error message like “The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.”, and result into data loss. It works if this drive was first in the NTFS file system and then turn to RAW.

Way 6: Change Folder Permission

If your external hard drive is still RAW, you can choose to change the permission of it.

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

Step 2. Under the Security tab, select your user name and click Edit.


Step 3. In the pop-up window, check the permission (full control, modify, read & excuete, etc) and click OK.


How to Change External Hard Drive from RAW to NTFS without Losing Data

If you end up having to format a RAW external hard drive, in order not to risk your data, it’s suggested to recover files from RAW external disk first. MyRecover, one of the most popular Windows data recovery software with two advanced scanning methods and high success rate of file recovery, will be a great choice.

  • Recover Word documents, Excel files, PPT, pictures, videos, compressed files, etc, and more than 200+ file types
  • keep the recovered files with their original format and quality.
  • Recover specific files or folder during the scanning process. You don’t need to wait for the scanning result.
  • Apply to Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc and Windows Server.

Part 1: Recover Files from RAW External Disk

Step 1. Download, install and launch Windows data recovery software- MyRecover. Hover the mouse over the RAW drive saved deleted files before, and click Scan.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download


Step 2. The software will automatically scan the selected drive and display all of files on it.  You can click Filter (including Type, Data Modified, and Size) or expand Other Missing Files to preview or select files.



  • Type: include all file types, such as images, videos, documents, mails, webpage, compressed files, etc.
  • Data Modified: support today, yesterday, last 7 days, last 30 days, and custom.
  • Size: filter file size from less than 128KB to 128KB ~1MB to 1MB ~ 512MB and above, or custom.

Step 3. Select the files you want to recover and click Recover xxx files. You don’t need to wait for the final scanning result if you find files that need to recover.


Note: MyRecover displays the number of files to be recovered and their full size. You can use this to determine if you have selected all files on it.

Step 4. Select a new folder to store files on your RAW external drive. Then, confirm it and click Select Folder. It will automatically recover the selected files on this folder. Don’t save them to original location as it may cause data corruption or permanent data loss.

Select Folder


  • MyRecover allows users to recover files from flash drive needs formatting for free, up to 500MB in total. To recover unlimited files, try advanced editions.
  • You still can use it to recover files from formatted hard drive, fix RAW SD card without losing data, recover data from USB that needs formatting, and other data loss scenarios.

Part 2: Format RAW External Hard Drive with Disk Management

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Disk Management. Then, find the external drive labeled with RAW.


Step 2. Right-click the RAW external drive and select Format.

Step 3. In the Format window, select file system- NTFS and click OK. You can also select FAT32, FAT16, exFAT, etc.

RAW File System to NTFS

Step 4. Then, you will see a warning message, saying the formatting process will erase all data on it. Click OK to continue this process.

How to Avoid External Hard Drive Turns to RAW

Anyway, you are able to fix RAW external hard drive without formatting and losing data. But sometimes this error can be avoided. Below are some useful suggestions you can follow:

  • Always use the safe eject option to remove the external disk.
  • Don’t often use the same external disk on multiple systems.
  • Turn on antivirus software - Windows Defender and be sure it’s running properly. You can also use third-party antivirus software.
  • Update disk driver on a regular basis.
  • Save at least 3 copies of your files on external disk. Except for the original files, you still need to create two backup copies and save them on different devices, such as external disk, cloud drive, etc. Meanwhile, you also need backup software for Windows like AOMEI Backupper Standard.

File Backup

  • Keep a reliable data recovery on your computer. It helps to recover files from external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, etc quickly.


✍ How do I fix RAW external hard drive format without losing data?

If you eventually need to format to avoid data loss, you can first recover data from RAW external hard drive with data recovery software. MyRecover is one of the best choices.

✍ How do I fix my external hard drive is not formatted?

To fix an unformatted external hard drive, you need to find out the possible causes first. It can be: remove disk without safe eject option, file system coruption, outdated drivers, viruses, etc. So you can try sfc, chkdsk, format, update drivers, and more.

✍ Can the DiskPart tool fix a RAW drive?

Yes, DiskPart is able to format RAW drive to NTFS or other recognized file systems, such as FAT32, FAT16, exFAT, etc. Here is a quick guide.

  • Press Win + R, type diskpart and click OK to open this tool.
  • Then, type list disk and press Enter to find out the RAW drive.
  • Type select disk X and press Enter. X is the drive letter of the RAW drive.
  • Type clean and press Enter. This command will delete all the data on the RAW drive.
  • Type create partition primary and press Enter.
  • Type format fs=ntfs quick and press Enter. It will format RAW drive to NTFS, but not assign a drive letter for it.
  • Type assign Y: and press Enter to add a new drive letter for this drive.
Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.