How to fix 'chkdsk is not available for RAW drives'?

Updated by Tim to Home > Data Recovery Tips on March 25th, 2021

A hard drive reliability study in early 2020 resulted in a 1.07 percent failure rate across several brands of hard drives. Drives are much more reliable than they were even a few years ago, but complete drive failure isn't the only problem you could run into.

Sometimes the drive gets corrupted and you cannot access the files stored on it. The Windows CHKDSK command is the first solution most users turn to, but in some cases, it returns an error saying "The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives".

chkdsk is not available for RAW drives

If that's the message you're seeing when you try to repair your disk, you're probably wondering what you can do. Read on to learn more about this error and how to solve it.

Quick way to fix 'chkdsk is not available for RAW drives'

First, you need to recover the files and other information you need from the drive. Once you recover those files and have them saved in a safe place, you can format the drive to either NTFS or FAT32.

Once it's formatted, you can copy the recovered data back onto the drive to complete the process.

Step 1: Recover data from a RAW drive

Windows includes the CHKDSK tool for diagnosing and repairing drives, but it doesn't include a data recovery tool. This means you need another way to read information from a RAW drive and recover the files and data saved on it.

M3 Data Recovery is a professional data recovery software which can recover data from RAW hard drive, external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, etc.

Step 1: Launch M3 Data Recovery software and choose the Data Recovery module.

If the RAW drive was BitLocker encrypted, choose BitLocker Recovery module to recover data from BitLocker encrypted drive.

Step 2: Select the RAW drive and click Next to scan, All files will be found in minutes.

Scan RAW drive with M3 Data Recovery

Step 3: Select the files you want to recover and click Recover to start RAW drive data recovery process.

Recover lost data from RAW drive

Step 2: Reformat the drive

As we mentioned already, you can fix a RAW drive by converting it to either the NTFS or the FAT32 file system. The important factor here is whether or not you need to save any data on the drive.

If there's nothing on the drive that you need to recover, you can format it with the following steps.

Step 1: Open a File Explorer window, click on This PC (or My Computer), and right-click on the RAW drive.

Step 2: Click on Format in the menu that appears.

Step 3: Select the file system (NTFS or FAT32) and adjust the other settings as needed (allocation unit size, volume label, and format options).

Step 4: Click Start to reformat the RAW drive to whichever file system you selected.

Other ways to fix 'chkdsk is not available for RAW drives'

There are several possible solutions when CHKDSK gives you the RAW drive errors. Some are less likely to work than others but let's go through the different options available.

1. Use the Windows error-checking tool

The first possible solution is to run the error-checking tool built into Windows.

Open a File Explorer window and click on This PC (or My Computer) in the left column. You'll see a list of devices and drives connected to the computer - look for the one that CHKDSK is reporting as RAW.

Right-click on that drive and click Properties on the menu that appears. Then click on the Tools tab in the window that opens and click the "Check" button to scan the drive.

This typically won't work if CHKDSK didn't, but it's worth double-checking before moving onto the next solutions.

2. RAW drive recovery software

M3 Data Recovery software will fix "the CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" error by repairing the file system errors. The following are the steps to use this software to fix the error.

Step 1: Install M3 Data Recovery. Launch the app and choose the RAW Drive Recovery option.

RAW drive recovery software

If the RAW drive was BitLocker encrypted, choose BitLocker Recovery module to recover data from BitLocker encrypted drive.

Step 2: Select the RAW drive from the list of drives.

Select RAW drive to fix chkdsk RAW error

Step 3: Click Next to scan the RAW drive.

Scan RAW drive to fix chkdsk RAW error

Step 4: When the scan finishes, check the list of files found on the RAW drive.

Fix chkdsk is not available for RAW drives error

Step 5: Click "Fix Drive" to fix RAW drive or switch to data recovery mode and recover the files.

3. Convert Drive from RAW to NTFS or FAT32

If you can't repair the RAW drive using the above two methods, it means you'll need to convert the drive from RAW to either the NTFS or FAT32 file system. This means you need to format the drive.

If there are no files on the drive that you need to save or recover, you can go ahead and format it. But if the drive does hold important data, you'll lose it if you format from RAW to either NFTS or FAT32. In that case, you need to recover the data first with M3 Data Recovery software.

If you prefer to work from the command prompt, you can convert the RAW drive to either NTFS or FAT32 using the diskpart command. Just keep in mind that the same warning applies here - you'll lose any information on the drive if you don't recover it first.

Step 1: Click on the Start menu and type CMD in the search box.

Step 2: Right-click CMD.EXE and select Run as Administrator.

Step 3: Type DISKPART and hit Enter to open the Diskpart utility.

Step 4: Type LIST VOLUME and press Enter to see the list of drives.

Step 5: Type SELECT VOLUME n (where "n" is the drive number) and press Enter to select the drive you want to format.

Step 6: Type FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK and press Enter to format the drive. Replace NTFS with FAT32 if you want to use that file system.

If Windows and diskpart command are unable to format the RAW drive, the RAW drive should have hardware issue, please try the 3rd-party professional format software or low-level format tool.

4. Ask for help from a local specialist

If none of the previous solutions work, you'll need to send the drive to a data recovery service to have your files professionally recovered.

These services will disassemble the drive and move the storage platters into a new, working drive to read the information. This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process so expect to pay quite a bit for it.

What is the CHKDSK command?

Chkdsk (short for check disk) scans a drive or other storage volume to verify its integrity. If it finds logical errors in the file system, it can correct them.

To run a scan with CHKDSK, you need to open the Windows Command Prompt. Clic on the Start menu and type "CMD" in the search field. Right-click on CMD.EXE and select Run as Administrator.

This opens the Command Prompt window with a command line for running various diagnostic tools. To run CHKDSK, enter the following command:
CHKDSK X: /f /r
Replace the X: with whatever drive letter you want to scan.

What does 'CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" mean?

Under normal circumstances, you'll see a status report after CHKDSK finishes scanning the drive. If you get the "CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" message instead, it means the type of the file system is RAW.

In other words, Windows see the drive as unformatted. CHKDSK isn't able to scan and repair RAW partition.