How to Convert/Fix RAW Hard Drive to NTFS without Formatting or Data Loss?

Updated by Tim to Data Recovery Tips on October 19th, 2020

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 fix RAW hard drive to NTFS without losing my data and formatting?

Have you ever encountered this situation that you are unable to access your partition? When you access it in Windows Explorer, does it pop 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 your RAW hard drive to NTFS without data loss and formatting.

How Do I Need to Convert RAW Hard Drive to NTFS?

Once a drive changed to RAW from NTFS, you'll be unable to access the data stored on it. When using Windows Explorer to access this drive, you can 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. This button will allow you to format it so you can continue using it. Nevertheless, formatting will erase all the data in the drive. Fortunately, there are ways you can fix RAW drive to NTFS without data loss. Below are some of the solutions to it:

Option 1: Use CMD to Convert RAW to NTFS File System

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 utilizing Chkdsk CMD to fix RAW hard drive to NTFS without data loss:

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 cmd.exe.

Run cmd as Administrator

Step 3: After seeing Command Prompt window, type "chkdsk X: /f" and then press Enter. Replace X with the drive letter of your RAW hard drive.

Chkdsk will analyze and fix the file system errors on the RAW drive. Once chkdsk command repairs the RAW hard drive, you'll be able to access it again. At times, chkdsk is unable to fix the RAW hard drive and usually reports an error message as chkdsk is not available for RAW drives. In such a case, you'll need to try other ways as below.

Option 2: Use a Partition Recovery Software to Fix RAW Hard Drive to NTFS

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 report as RAW file system. In this case, partition recovery should be the first thing you need to do.

M3 Data Recovery is both a RAW hard drive partition recovery and data recovery software. It can fix RAW drive and convert RAW drive to NTFS without data loss and formatting on Windows Server 2003/3008/2012/2016 and Windows XP/7/8/10.

Apart from RAW hard drive repair, M3 Data Recovery can also help recover deleted or lost files from the storage device.

Steps to fix RAW hard drive to NTFS without formatting:

Step 1: Avoid to format RAW hard drive to NFTS before data recovery, because it makes you lose data permanently.

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

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

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

M3 Data Recovery software

If RAW hard drive was BitLocker encrypted, choose "BitLocker Recovery" module to recover lost 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 lost 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 drive and convert RAW drive to NTFS.

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

Video tutorial:

Option 3: Convert RAW to NTFS by data recovery and reformatting

If your hard drive becomes 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 hard drive to NTFS, the first thing should be file recovery

So how to get data back to avoid data loss issue by converting RAW drive to NTFS? Just follow the below two steps to do this job now:

Step 1: Recover data from RAW hard drive

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

Besides RAW drive data recovery, M3 Data Recovery can also recover data from the formatted, corrupted, deleted or lost partition, etc.

Steps to recover data from RAW drive:

1) Download, install and install M3 Data Recovery software on your computer.

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

2) Choose "Data Recovery" module.

M3 Data Recovery software

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

3) Select the RAW drive and click Next to scan the lost data.

Scan data from RAW drive

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

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.

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 data recovery professional for assistance.

Step 2: Convert RAW drive to NTFS by formatting

After you complete the data recovery process, you should no longer fear to lose any data, you are not afraid of losing any data on that storage device. Now it is time to format RAW drive to NTFS file system:

1) Format RAW drive to NTFS in Windows explorer

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

Select "Format...".

Select format

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

Click "Start" to format the RAW drive to NTFS.

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.

2) Format RAW drive to NTFS in disk management

In disk management, simply right click on the RAW drive and select "Format" to fix RAW hard drive to NTFS.

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 RAW drive to NTFS.

3) Format RAW drive to NTFS with CMD

diskpart command is another option to convert RAW drive to NTFS file system.

Type "diskpart" in the search bar of Windows Taskbar.

Right click on diskpart.exe and choose "Run as Administrator" to run diskpart.exe.

Run diskpart

At the DISKPART> prompt, please type "list disk" command and press Enter.

List disk with diskpart command

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

Select disk with diskpart command

Type "list volume" command and press Enter.

List volume with diskpart command

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

Select volume with diskpart command

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

Option 4: A local specialist

If your PC is unable to recognize RAW hard drive or your RAW hard drive has a hardware issue, send it to a local specialist for a data recovery help.

Option 5: Consider a replacement

If your 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 structural damage

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 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.

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