How to Convert RAW to NTFS without Formatting or Losing Data?

If you have suffered data loss from RAW drive, free download M3 Data Recovery to recover data now.

Updated by Tim to Home > Data Recovery Tips on April 13th, 2021

I am unable to access my Windows partition. When I accessed it, Windows pops up a message "The drive is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?" Can someone help me to convert RAW to NTFS without losing data and formatting?

Have you ever encountered this situation that you are unable to access your external hard drive partition? When you access it in Windows Explorer, it pops up an error message as "The drive is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?" This is the ideal place to get help in fixing RAW hard drive to NTFS without formatting and data loss.

How to Convert RAW to NTFS?

Once a drive becomes a RAW file system, you'll be unable to access the data stored on it. When using Windows Explorer to access this drive, you would get an error message like "You need to format the disk before you can use it".

When you get the above RAW drive format error, you'll need to click on the "Format disk" button so you can continue using this drive. Nevertheless, formatting will erase all the data stored in the drive. Fortunately, there are 8 methods you can try to convert RAW to NTFS without losing data or formatting. Below are some of the solutions to do it:

Fix 1: Restart your computer

Sometimes, Windows is unable to load the drivers of external hard drive. By restarting your computer, Windows will re-load the drivers and make your external hard drive readable again.

Fix 2: Update the drivers for external hard drive

It is possible that your external hard drive may have come with bundled software that may be incompatible with the latest operating system.

Try updating the driver to the latest version and see if this fixes RAW external hard drive problem.

To update the driver, follow these steps:

Step 1: Right-click on My Computer or This PC in Windows Explorer or on the desktop.

Step 2: Click on Manage and then Device Manager.

Step 3: Find your external hard drive in the Device Manager, right-click on it and select "Update Driver Software...".

Uninstall the driver

The driver should now be update-to-date. Once the update has completed, try to access your external hard drive again and see if this has resolved the RAW drive issue.

Fix 3: Run chkdsk cmd to fix RAW drive without format

Chkdsk is a utility for Windows that transforms and checks the integrity of the different file system errors on a storage device. Below are procedures for how to fix RAW partition without losing data:

Step 1: Type "cmd" in the search bar of Windows Taskbar.

Step 2: Right click on cmd.exe and choose "Run as Administrator" to run the command prompt.

Run cmd as Administrator

Step 3: After seeing Command Prompt window, type "chkdsk driveletter: /f" and then press Enter.

chkdsk /f -> Correct the errors on the disk.
chkdsk /r -> Correct the bade sectors on the disk.
chkdsk /x -> Include /f, but also scan the entire disk surface for physical errors and attempt to repair them as well.

Chkdsk will analyze and repair the file system errors on the RAW partition. Once the chkdsk command fixes RAW partition, you'll be able to access it again.

Sometimes, chkdsk is unable to fix RAW partition and usually reports an error message as "the type of the file system is RAW, chkdsk is not available for RAW drives". In such a case, you'll need to try other solutions as below to fix RAW hard drive to NTFS.

Fix 4: Convert RAW to NTFS via Partition Recovery

As we know, the partition table and volume boot sector are two places storing the partition information. Once they get corrupted or damaged, Windows will be unable to read this disk and reports as RAW file system. In this case, partition recovery should be the first thing you need to do.

M3 Data Recovery Software can fix RAW partition and convert RAW to NTFS without losing data and formatting on Windows Server 2003/3008/2012/2016 and Windows XP/7/8/10.

Apart from RAW drive repair, M3 Data Recovery can also help recover deleted or lost files from hard drive, external hard drive, USB drive, flash drive, SD card, etc.

Tutorial to convert RAW to NTFS without formatting:

Step 1: Please avoid formatting RAW drive to NTFS before data recovery, this formatting operation will erase all your files.

Step 2: Download, install and launch M3 Data Recovery software on your Windows PC.

If it is a RAW external hard drive, connect it to your computer before running M3 Data Recovery software.

Step 3: Choose RAW Drive Recovery module on the main interface.

M3 Data Recovery software

If RAW hard drive was encrypted by BitLocker, choose "BitLocker Recovery" module to recover data from BitLocker encrypted drive.

Step 4: Choose the RAW drive from the drive list.

Select RAW hard drive in M3 Data Recovery

Step 5: Click Next to scan the data from the RAW drive.

Scan RAW hard drive

Step 6: Preview and check the files in the RAW drive.

Check the found files in RAW drive

If you find some files missing after scanning, try deep scan in Data Recovery module to find more files.

Step 7: Click "Fix Drive" to fix RAW partition and convert RAW to NTFS without losing data.

The file system can become severely damaged in a way so that the RAW drive can't be fixed back to NTFS file system. In such a case, the only way is to recover your data and then convert RAW to NTFS by reformatting.

Video tutorial:

Fix 5: Convert RAW to NTFS via Data Recovery

If your hard drive became RAW file system due to virus attack, improper operation, power outage, etc., your first choice should be formatting. However, formatting will erase all the data. For the prevention of unexpected data loss when converting RAW to NTFS, the first thing should be data recovery

So how to get data back to avoid data loss issue by converting RAW to NTFS? Just follow the below steps to recover data now:

Tutorial to convert RAW to NTFS without data loss:

Step 1: Download, install and launch M3 Data Recovery software on your Windows computer.

M3 Data Recovery is a professional data recovery software that can recover data from RAW storage device, such as external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card.

If it is a RAWexternal hard drive, connect it to your computer before launching M3 Data Recovery software.

Step 2: Choose "Data Recovery" module.

M3 Data Recovery software

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

Step 3: Select the RAW drive and click Next to scan the data.

Scan data from RAW drive

In the drive list, M3 Data Recovery shows RAW drive as unknown file system.

Step 4: Preview and check the found files.

Recover lost data from RAW drive

If there are some files missing after scanning, try deep scan in Data Recovery module to find more files.

Step 5: Choose the files you expect and then click Recover to start data recovery.

If the RAW hard drive has been physically failed, you need to send it to a local professional for data recovery assistance.

Fix 6: Convert RAW to NTFS by reformatting

After you complete the data recovery job, it is time to convert RAW to NTFS by reformatting the drive:

Option 1: Convert RAW to NTFS file system in Windows explorer

Step 1: Right click the RAW drive in My Computer (This PC) or Disk Management.

Step 2: Select "Format...".

Select format

Step 3: Select NTFS file system and then set other information (Allocation unit size, volume label, format options) about format process.

Step 4: Click "Start" to format the RAW drive to NTFS file system.

Sometimes you can do this successfully. However, sometimes an error message saying "The format did not complete successfully" appears. In this situation, please try other method.

Option 2: Convert RAW to NTFS file system in disk management

In disk management, simply right click on the RAW drive and select "Format" to convert RAW drive to NTFS file system.

Sometimes you can do this successfully, sometimes you fail with "Windows was unable to complete the format" message. In that case, try diskpart command to format the RAW drive to NTFS.

Option 3: Diskpart converts RAW to NTFS/FAT32 file system

Diskpart command is another option to convert RAW to NTFS or FAT32 file system.

Step 1: Type diskpart in the search bar of Windows Taskbar.

Step 2: Right click on diskpart.exe and choose Run as Administrator to run diskpart.exe.

Run diskpart

Step 3: At the DISKPART> prompt, please type list disk command and press Enter.

List disk with diskpart command

Step 4: Type select disk X command and press Enter (Replace X with the disk number of your RAW storage device).

Select disk with diskpart command

Step 5: Type list volume command and press Enter.

List volume with diskpart command

Step 6: Type select volume X command and press Enter (Replace X with the volume number of your RAW partition).

Select volume with diskpart command

Step 7: Type format fs=ntfs label=volume label quick and press Enter to execute the format. When the format completes, you will see message showing "Diskpart successfully formatted the volume".

Format volume with diskpart command

Fix 7: A local specialist

If your external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Management or your RAW hard drive has a hardware issue, send it to a local specialist for data recovery help.

Fix 8: Consider a replacement

If your external hard drive has physicaly failed and don't worry about data loss, purchase a new hard drive and replace it.

Why Does Your Hard Drive Unexpectedly Become RAW?

There are quite a lot of reasons that may cause your hard drive to become RAW file system. Here below is a list of causes which may make it impossible to access data of your drive or partitions:

1. Bad sectors

If your hard drive has bad sectors, the operating system won't recognize it, and it'll become RAW. The typical error is: Drive not accessible, data error (cyclic redundancy check).

2. File system corrupt

One of RAW drive cause reasons is file system corruption, so a damaged file system structure will always read RAW.

3. Partition table corruption

If you have a corrupted partition table, the operating system will fail to recognize the NTFS file system and read as RAW.

4. Malware and virus attacks

Malware and virus attacks can damage critical data of the file system such as the boot sector and partition table.

5. Unsafe ejection

Many people are fond of ejecting the external hard drive without pulling it out safely. This usually causes hardware issue, corruption, and damage to the external hard drive.

6. Unexpected shutdown

While using the external hard drive, you might encounter shut down due to damage and corruption.

How to Prevent RAW Hard Drive Data Loss Again?

The best way to prevent data loss is by creating frequent file backups. There are several free backup software such as Paragon Backup and Recovery Free, Macrium Reflect Free, and Aomei Backupper Standard. You can pick one of the software to create a backup for your files. If you lose your crucial data, you can always restore them from the backup without worries.