Can You Really Recover Data from a RAW Hard Drive?

Before you can start using a new hard drive, it must be initialized. To do so, you can use Disk Management tool in Windows and then format the hard drive with a desired file system supported by the Operating System (OS).

In this case, Windows OS, which recognizes and supports NTFS, FAT (FAT16/FAT32), ReFS, and exFAT file systems. Any hard drive with a file system other than the one supported by Windows OS is recognized as RAW volume and can’t be accessed from a Windows system.

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For instance, an HFS+ hard drive is compatible with macOS. If you try to connect an HFS+ drive to Windows system, the OS will display the HFS+ formatted drive as RAW. That’s because Windows OS does not recognize and support HFS+ formatted drives.

A RAW hard drive volume may also indicate drive corruption due to damaged file system. Malware or virus infection, mishandling, unplugging drive without safe removal, bad sector, etc. are some common reasons that turns a normal working hard drive into RAW (corrupt) volume.

As a result, OS can’t read the drive contents and the user gets following error prompts if they try to access it—

C:\Users\ravi.singh\Pictures\Inaccessible volme.jpg

How to Check If Drive is RAW

If you see the prompts, as shown above, your drive is corrupt (RAW). Another way is to use the Disk Management tool.

  • Connect the hard drive (if external) and close prompt windows, if appears
  • Then Press ‘Windows + X’ on the keyboard and click ‘Disk Management.
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  • There you will see RAW mentioned on the drive volume (see screenshot below)

Now when the error message pops up (as shown above) while accessing a RAW hard drive, a normal user is more likely to click ‘Format’. But this wipes everything from the drive, which could have been recovered by repairing the damaged file system or with the help of a RAW hard drive recovery software.

If your hard drive has also turned into RAW volume, follow these detailed steps to safely get back your data first and then repair a RAW hard drive by formatting it.

WARNING: Do not format the drive before recovery if you wish to get back maximum data from an inaccessible RAW hard drive.

Steps to Recover Data from a RAW Hard Drive

Make sure that the affected RAW hard drive is connected to your Windows PC. Then follow these steps:

Step 1: Assign a Drive Letter to a RAW Drive Volume, if not visible in File Explorer

Sometimes, a RAW drive is visible under Disk Management tool but not in the File Explorer. In such case, you can’t run any disk repair utility on a RAW hard drive. However, you can always assign a drive letter to a RAW hard drive volume via Disk Management System.

Just follow these instructions—

  1. Open Disk Management utility
  2. Right-click on RAW hard drive volume and choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths…
  1. Click ‘Add
  2. Select a drive letter you wish to assign from the drop-down
  3. Click ‘OK’ and close the Disk Management Tool

NOTE: After assigning a drive letter to RAW hard drive volume, you may get a prompt to format the drive. Click ‘Cancel’. Never click ‘Format’ on any prompt

Step 1: Use Error Checking Tool

  1. Right-click on the RAW hard drive volume and choose ‘Properties.
  2. Click the ‘Tools’ tab. You will see ‘Error Checking’ section
  3. Click the ‘Check’ button and grant admin access
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  1. In case you see the following popup, click ‘No’ and proceed to the next step

Step 2: Run CHKDSK Scan

CHKDSK scan is a quite useful Windows command-line based utility that can help you keep your hard drive healthy and error free. The scan can also fix minor file system errors that cause drive corruption. To run CHKDSK scan on a RAW volume, follow these instructions—

  1. Press Windows+S and type command prompt
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator
  3. Now type the following command and press the ‘Enter’ key

chkdsk /r /f X:

Where X is the RAW hard drive volume letter. Change the letter X with your RAW hard drive volume letter

  1. After the scan, restart PC and try to access the drive. In case you still see the prompt to format your drive, use RAW hard drive data recovery software in the next step.

Step 3: Use Data Recovery Software

When CHKDSK is not able to repair your RAW hard drive volume, it indicates severe corruption. However, you can still get access to your inaccessible data from a RAW hard drive with the help of a RAW hard drive recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery.

Follow the below instructions to recover data from a RAW hard drive:

  1. Make sure the RAW drive is connected, and the letter is assigned
  2. Download, install and run Stellar Data Recovery software
  3. Choose ‘All Data’ and click ‘Next.
drive recovery
  1. You will see the RAW hard drive volume under ‘Connected Drives
scanning process - partitin recovery software
  1. Turn on ‘Deep Scan’ toggle switch at the bottom left and click ‘Scan.
Windows Data Recovery
  1. After the scan, you can click on a file to see its preview. You may also click ‘File Type’ to segregate search results based on file formats and use the Search bar to locate an important file quickly
Windows Data Recovery
  1. After selecting the required files, click ‘Recover.’
  2. Click ‘Browse’ to choose a save location
  3. Finally, click ‘Start Saving’ to save the files recovered from a RAW hard drive at your desired location
Windows Data Recovery

If a hard drive partition is not found, you can use the ‘Can’t Find Drive’ option to recover data from a missing partition also.

Once you have saved your data, format the RAW hard drive by using Disk Management tool to fix the drive corruption. Then transfer the saved files back to the fixed hard drive.

For more help, connect with us via comment down below or reach out to our data recovery experts.


When a hard drive turns RAW, it must be repaired with tools like CHKDSK. Alternatively, one can also format a RAW hard drive to make it usable again, unless the drive contains important data.

If a drive that turned RAW has important files, you should immediately use a RAW hard drive recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery to get back the inaccessible files.

The software also features an option to scan and recover data from lost and missing hard drive partitions. It can also help you to recover any file type from a severely corrupt RAW drive and formatted partition.