How to Fix a Corrupted/RAW External Hard Drive without Formatting and Recover Data?

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

Computers are great, right up to the moment that they're not.

hard drive

Whilst failure rates for hard drives are as low as 1.25%, that's still more than one in a hundred hard drives that will fail at some point.

If you suddenly find that your external hard drive is throwing up errors and not letting you access it, it may be because your seagate or WD external hard drive has become RAW.

The good news is that before you take it in for external hard drive repair, there are a few things you can try to fix the problem yourself. Read on as we take a look at how to fix a corrupted/RAW external hard drive.

What Is the RAW File System?

A RAW file system is one that has not been formatted to work on your computer.

In other words, it is an unformatted file system that needs to be formatted before it can be used to store your files and folders. The trouble is, formatting an external hard drive will erase any data on it. That means if your external hard drive has suddenly become RAW, you'll need to find a way to fix it without formatting.

Why Does an External Hard Drive Become RAW or Corrupted?

There are a number of reasons why an external hard drive might become RAW or corrupted.

It may have become corrupted, either due to an internal failure, or because it was not safely ejected before being removed. It may be caused by the accidental deletion of system files that cause it to become unreadable. It may also be caused by a virus or malware.

If your external hard drive has become RAW, you will usually see one of the following error messages:

Drive is not accessible, access denied.
External hard drive says it needs to be formatted.
Drive is not accessible, the parameter is incorrect.
The volume does not contain a recognized file system.
Drive is not accessible, the file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.
Drive is not accessible, the disk structure is corrupted and unreadable.
Drive is not accessible, data error (cyclic redundancy check).

With any of these messages, the likely cause is a corrupted/RAW external hard drive.

How to Fix a Corrupted/RAW External Hard Drive Without Formatting?

If you have important data on your external hard drive that you don't want to lose, you need to find a solution that doesn't involve reformatting your drive.

Formatting your external hard drive will mean you lose any data that you had stored on it, so this isn't an ideal solution. Instead, there are a number of things you can try to fix corrupted/RAW external hard drive without formatting.

Try Your External Hard Drive on Another Computer

The issue may not necessarily be solely to do with your external hard drive.

Your computer may be the problem. Try plugging your external hard drive into a different computer and see if the same issue occurs. If it does, you know that the issue is probably the hard drive or cable.

Try a Different Port

Another thing you can try is switching which port your external hard drive is plugged into.

Sometimes specific ports can cause issues, but by plugging your drive into a different port, the problem disappears. You should always try this before taking more drastic measures.

Try a Different Cable

If a change of port doesn't help, a change of cable might.

If you're using a USB external hard drive, try switching out the USB cable for a different one that you know works without any issues. It may be that your cable has become damaged and is causing the problems.

Update the Driver

Computers regularly update their systems. This can sometimes mean that the driver for your external hard drive is no longer compatible.

Try updating the driver to the latest version and see if this fixes the problem. You can update the driver by following these steps:

Step 1: Right-click on My Computer 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.

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

Use Chkdsk

Chkdsk is a utility that comes as part of Windows. This system tool checks file system integrity and can fix errors on the external hard drive.

In order to use Chkdsk to fix your corrupted/RAW external hard drive without formatting, complete the following steps:

Step 1: Type CMD in the Windows search bar.

Step 2: Right-click on cmd.exe and choose Run as Administrator.

command prompt

Step 3: Type chkdsk driveletter: /f and hit Enter.

Chkdsk will then get to work trying to repair your corrupted external hard drive. You may find that you receive an error message stating that "Chkdsk is not available for RAW drives".

Convert RAW to NTFS or FAT32 Without Data Loss

If you want to fix a corrupted/RAW external hard drive without data loss, you need to use software that can convert a corrupted/RAW external hard drive back into NTFS or FAT32 without losing any data.

M3 Data Recovery is a RAW drive recovery program that can convert your corrupted/RAW external hard drive to NTFS or FAT32 without data loss.

Simply complete the following steps:

Step 1: Connect corrupted/RAW external hard drive to your computer.

Step 2: Download, install and run M3 Data Recovery.

Step 3: Choose RAW Drive Recovery module.

Free data recovery software

If corrupted/RAW external hard drive was Bitlocker encrypted, choose Bitlocker Recovery module.

Step 4: Select corrupted/RAW external hard drive and choose Next.

Scan corrupted/RAW external hard drive

Step 5: Check and preview the files in corrupted/RAW external hard drive.

Fix corrupted/RAW external hard drive

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

Step 6: Choose "Fix Drive".

The corrupted external hard drive file system will now be rebuilt and you should be able to access your external hard drive once more.

Recover Files From a Corrupted/RAW External Hard Drive

If you're unable to rebuild the corrupted external hard drive file system, you may still be able to recover your files.

To recover files from corrupted/RAW external hard drive, follow these steps:

Step 1: Download and install M3 Data Recovery.

Step 2: Connect corrupted/RAW external hard drive to your computer.

Step 3: Launch M3 Data Recovery.

Step 4: Choose Data Recovery.

Step 5: Select corrupted/RAW external hard drive.

Step 6: Click Next to scan for your data.

Scan data from corrupted/RAW external hard drive

Try deep scan to find more files if any files are missing after scanning.

Step 7: Check through the files and click Recover.

Recover lost data from corrupted/RAW external hard drive

Step 8: Once you have recovered your files, reformat your external hard drive to NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT.

Recover Files From a Bitlocker Encrypted Hard Drive Showing as RAW

If you used Bitlocker to encrypt your external hard drive, you should still be able to recover lost data from Bitlocker encrypted drive.

Follow these steps with M3 Data Recovery:

Step 1: Download, install, launch M3 Data Recovery and choose Bitlocker Recovery module.

Step 2: Select your external hard drive.

Scan data from Bitlocker encrypted drive

Step 3: Click Next.

Step 4: Enter your password or 48-digit recovery key and click OK.

Scan data from RAW Bitlocker encrypted drive

Step 5: Check the found files and then select the files to recover.

Recover lost data from RAW Bitlocker encrypted drive

Step 6: If you cannot find the required files, try a deep scan.

You should now be able to recover your files and reformat your hard drive, before encrypting your hard drive once more.

If your external hard drive was encrypted with a different tool, you'll need to find data recovery software that supports that kind of encryption.

Format a Corrupted/RAW External Hard Drive

If your external hard drive doesn't contain any important data, and you're not worried about recovering any of it, then you can opt to reformat your hard drive. This will return your external hard drive to being usable with your computer.

To do so, follow these steps:

Step 1: Right-click on your external hard drive in Windows Explorer

Step 2: Select "Format..." from the right-click menu.

Step 3: Choose the type of file system you want to use.

Step 4: Select Start to begin formatting your external hard drive

Once the process is complete, your external hard drive should be reformatted and you should be able to save files and folders to it without any issues.

If Windows is unable to format corrupted/RAW external hard drive, try diskpart command or the 3rd-party format tool.

Contact a Professional

If you've tried all of these solutions and none of them have been successful, then you may need to seek expert help.

Try taking your external hard drive to a computer repair shop. They may be able to resolve the issues that you are having.

How to Avoid the Problem in Future

No one wants to lose their data. External hard drives do sometimes fail, however.

To avoid the same issues in the future, always make sure that you back up your files to another location. This could be another hard drive, or you could use a cloud-based backup system that will save your files and folders in the cloud. It means that if you do have hard drive problems, you won't have to worry about losing all of your data; you can easily restore it from your backup.

You should also ensure that you always safely eject the external hard drive before you remove it from your computer.

Are You Looking for a Data Recovery Software for External Hard Drive Repair?

If you're in need of external hard drive repair because your external hard drive is showing RAW file system, then we're here to help.

Our all-in-one data recovery software is a powerful tool that can help you recover lost or deleted files from an emptied recycle bin, hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card or external hard drive. It's reliable and easy to use and can be used to recover files from formatted, corrupted, deleted or lost partitions in more than 300 different file types.

It's compatible with Windows 10 as well as macOS. Download one of our solutions for free today.

Related articles: