One of the problems that Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 users face is a damaged hard drive (HDD/SSD) or a disk partition with a RAW file system, and the same happens with a flash drive or an external drive. This is usually accompanied by “To use a disk first format it” or “Volume file system is not recognized” messages. And if you try to check such a disk using standard Windows tools, you will see the following message: “CHKDSK is not acceptable for RAW disks”. So, how to recover a lost NTFS partition? Let’s talk about it below.
The format of a RAW disk is a kind of “no format”, or rather a file system on a disk: it happens with new or defective hard disks. In situations when a disk becomes a RAW format out of the blue, it’s more often due to system failures, wrong computer shutdown, or power supply problems. In the latter case, the information on the disk usually remains safe. Sometimes the disk is displayed as a RAW if the file system is not supported in the current OS – in this case, you should try to open a partition in the OS that can work with this file system. In this guide, you will find detailed information on how to fix a RAW file system disk in different situations, e.g. when it has data on it, the system needs to recover the previous file system from the RAW, or when some important data on the HDD/SSD is missing and formatting the disk is not an issue.
Disk Check and Fixing File System Errors
This option is the first thing worth trying in all cases when a RAW partition or disk appears. It does not always work but it’s safe and applicable both when the problem occurs with a disk or partition with data, and if the RAW drive is a system disk with Windows and the OS does not boot.
In case the operating system is running, just follow the following steps:
Run a command prompt on behalf of the administrator. In Windows 10, the easiest way to do this is to use the taskbar search: enter “Command prompt”, right-click on the found result, select “Run as administrator”.
Other ways to run the command line as an administrator:
Type “chkdsk D: /f” and press Enter (in this command, “D:” is the letter of the RAW disk to fix). If there is no drive letter, you can assign it to “Disk Management” via the context menu of the drive. After that, you have two options: if the drive has become a RAW due to a simple file system failure, the check will start, and you are very likely to see your drive in the desired format (usually NTFS) after it’s finished. If it’s something more serious, the command will show “CHKDSK not acceptable for RAW disks”. This means that this method is not suitable for disk recovery.
In situations where the operating system does not start, you can use a Windows 10, 8, or 7 recovery disk or a distribution disk with an operating system, e.g. a bootable flash drive. An example of the second case is as follows:
Boot from the distribution disk (its number of bits should match the number of bits of the installed operating system);
Then, on the screen, after selecting the language at the bottom left, select “System Restore” and open the command line, or simply press Shift+F10 (Shift+Fn+F10 on some laptops).
In the command line, use the commands in the following order:
- list volume (as a result of this command, you can see under what letter the problem disk, or rather a partition, is currently located, as this letter may be different from the one in the working system);
- chkdsk D: /f (where D: is the letter of the problem disk).
Here, the possible scenarios are the same as described earlier: either everything will be fixed and after rebooting the system will start as usual, or you will see a message that chkdsk cannot be used with a RAW disk,
Restore NTFS partition from RAW with Disk Drill
It’s much more unpleasant if the disk, which became a RAW, had important data and you need not just to format, and return the partition with this data.
In this situation, for a start, we recommend trying free data and lost partitions recovery utility (and more), Disk Drill. Details on how to use the utility: Data recovery in Disk Drill.
The process of partition recovery from RAW in the utility will mainly consist of the following steps:
- Select the physical disk on which the RAW partition is located (leave the “show partitions” checkbox enabled) and run Quick Scan.
- If you see a lost partition in the Disk Drill partition list, select it, and open it. If it’s not displayed, perform a Deep Scan to find it.
- Check the contents of the partition to see if it’s what you need. If it is, click “Show Partitions” in the program menu.
- Make sure that the desired partition is highlighted and click “Recover”. Confirm the recovery of the boot sector and click “Apply” below to save the data to the file at a convenient location.
- After a short time, the changes will be applied, and the RAW drive will be available again with the necessary file system. You can now exit the utility.
Note: In our experiments, when fixing a RAW disk drive in Windows 10 (UEFI + GPT) using Disk Drill, immediately after the procedure, the system reported disk errors (the problem disk was available with all the data that had been on it before) and offered to reboot the computer to fix them. After rebooting, everything worked fine.
In case you use Disk Drill to fix the system disk (for example, by connecting it to another computer), consider that the following scenario is possible as a result: the RAW disk drive will return the original file system but when connected to the “native” computer or laptop, the OS will not boot. In this case, perform bootloader recovery.
Disk Drill Basic (formerly known as Pandora Recovery) offers an unusually user-friendly interface. The utility starts by scanning the disk to create an index of existing and non-existing directories and files. Then you can manually (or with the help of the search system) specify the documents, photos, or videos you need.
Disk Drill can help you recover lost files without any problems in macOS or Windows. This software allows you to quickly and efficiently recover lost data from virtually any medium: hard drives, external hard drives, cameras, audio players, smartphones, memory cards of any type, USB flash drives, etc.
The utility will recover data after emptying the Trash, disk formatting, partition changes, or virus intrusion.
Disk Drill features:
- Scans and restores data from any storage medium;
- Features several recovery algorithms;
- Simple intuitive interface;
- Supports all file systems;
- Recovers files after disk formatting, partition changes, etc.;
- Protects your computer from future data loss. Maintains a record of all deleted files, which makes it much easier and faster to recover them;
- Backs up a volume or partition from a failed drive and save it to a new drive;
- Scan Pause function;
- Recovers data after deleting information on the flash drive;
- Data recovery after virus attacks;
- Recovers information after system failures and errors;
- Recovers data after formatting/changing hard drive partitions.
Disk Drill works with all types of file systems: NTFS, FAT, HFS / HFS +, EXT2 / EXT3 / EXT4 and will be useful in any situation where you need to urgently and fully restore accidentally or deliberately deleted data.
The utility has a very simple, user-friendly interface, and everything you need to recover data and protect it from an accidental deletion in the future. The set of functions of the software includes:
- Deleted file recovery option;
- Quick Scan and Deep Scan;
- Ability to control the scanning process (pause, resume);
- Ability to preview deleted files before recovery;
- Recovery Vault options (file protection), which keeps a record of all deleted data and allows you to recover it faster.
The free version of the utility has restrictions on the amount of data to be recovered. The limit is set at 500 MB. The program will be useful and understandable for both experienced PC users and beginners.