How to Convert RAW File System to FAT32 without Losing Data

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convert raw file system to fat32One of the more common issues plaguing computer users is when the file system of a particular storage device suddenly becomes RAW. This makes it incompatible with any operating system, rendering it effectively unusable until successfully formatted into a supported file system.

The good news is that there are multiple ways to go about remedying this problem, allowing you to utilize your storage device once more. In this guide, we’ll tackle the different ways to convert RAW file systems to FAT32 on Windows PCs without losing data in the process.

Reasons that May Lead to File System Becoming RAW

There are various reasons that could lead to the file system of a storage device becoming RAW. Below is a list of some of the most common causes faced by computer users:

Reason Description
🦠 Virus infection Viruses can create all sorts of problems for your storage device, including issues with its file system. For example, certain viruses take aim at a storage medium’s partition table, damaging it and making the file system unreadable to your computer’s operating system. This could cause the device to appear as RAW.
🛑 Format failure Formatting your storage device is one of the primary methods of changing its file system, but there are instances when the formatting process may fail. When this happens, the device may end up with a RAW file system.
💻 Accidental shutdown during the writing process Many users have experienced the unforeseen shutdown of their PC while data was being written to a certain storage device. This could be due to a power spike, OS failure, etc. Instances like these could cause the storage device file system to go RAW.
🗃️ Unrecognizable file system Your storage medium may have been formatted into a file system that’s unrecognized by your OS, making it appear as though it’s RAW. This can happen when connecting it to another device that requires a particular format for its storage media.

How to Avoid Data Loss When Converting RAW Partition

When you convert RAW to FAT32, you’re bound to lose data in the process. The most foolproof way to avoid this is to recover the data before you proceed with the conversion. There’s no shortage of data recovery programs on the market, but not all of them support RAW file systems. Disk Drill not only supports RAW partitions but also boasts exceptional recovery prowess and an intuitive interface that caters to both newbies and advanced users alike.

Moreover, it features a trial version that lets you test out all the app’s features and retrieve up to 500 MB free of charge. That way, you can rest easy knowing that your data will be restored for sure. The program is compatible with Windows 7/10/11, though versions 7 and below will require an older version of the app.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to recover files from a storage device using Disk Drill:

  1. To get started, download the newest version of Disk Drill. Once done, run the setup file and install it on your PC.
  2. Next, make sure the RAW storage device is connected to your computer. From there, launch the app, select the RAW device from the list of available storage media, and click “Search for lost data.”
    choose recovery location
  3. After that, Disk Drill will start scanning the RAW partition. You can wait for the scan to complete first or go ahead and click the “Review found items” button at the top-right corner to proceed to the results screen as the scan progresses.
    scanning drive
  4. When you’re in the results section, you can narrow down the list of found items by clicking one of the categories on the left or by using the search bar at the top right. The search function accepts both file names and file types. Once you find the files you want to restore, tick the checkboxes next to their file names to highlight them, then click the “Recover” button.
    select files
  5. You’ll now need to select a destination for your recovered files. Once you’ve decided, click “Next.”
    choose recovery location
  6. Upon clicking, Disk Drill will now try to retrieve your chosen files. You’ll see a completion message if successful, along with a button labeled “Show recovered data in Explorer” that you can click to open the folder where your files will be located.
    recovery complete

How to Change RAW File System to FAT32

The most surefire way to fix the RAW file system issue plaguing your storage device is to format it. There are numerous Windows tools and features that can perform this, and we’ve outlined them below.

Using Windows Explorer

The first and easiest way to format your storage device is directly through Windows Explorer. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows + E to bring up an instance of Windows Explorer.
  2. Locate your device from the panel on the left, then right-click it and select “Format.”
    explorer format
  3. Next, select “FAT 32” from the “File system” dropdown and edit any other options you like. Click “Start” when you’re ready to proceed with the format.
    explorer formatting options

Using Disk Management

Disk Management is a Windows utility that allows you to configure various storage device properties and operations. Its formatting capability can be used as a file system converter.

To use Disk Management to fix the RAW file system issue, simply follow the steps outlined below:

  1. First, press Windows + R to bring up the “Run” command, then type in diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.
    run disk management
  2. Next, right-click the RAW volume and select “Format.”
    disk management format
  3. Select “FAT 32” from the “File system” dropdown and edit any other options you’d like. When you’re ready, hit “OK” to finalize the process.
    disk management formatting options

Using Command Prompt

Another way to perform a storage device format is through the Windows Command Prompt feature. Here’s how to do it:

  1. To get started, press Windows + R to bring up the “Run” command, then type in diskpart and hit Enter.
    run diskpart
  2. Next, type list disk and hit Enter.
    list disk
  3. You should see all the disks currently connected to your computer. Take note of the disk number of your RAW device. From there, type select disk followed by a space, and the disk number. Press Enter to continue.
    select disk
  4. After that, type clean and hit Enter to wipe all files on the device.
    clean disk
  5. Type format fs=fat32 and press Enter to finalize the conversion. After that, type assign and press Enter to assign a drive letter to your newly formatted device.
    diskpart format

In addition to the ones described above, there are many third-party programs that can help you format and convert your storage device. But recommending any of those apps would prove difficult without knowing your exact situation, so we stuck with more tried and tested methods.


Suddenly encountering a RAW file system on your storage medium can be an incredibly frustrating affair. Fortunately, fixing the problem is pretty straightforward, and many of the tools are already available on your Windows PC. All you have to do is use one of them to convert RAW file systems to FAT32, and you should be good to go. Just remember to recover your files before you do so in order to avoid data loss.


You can use the Windows Command Prompt as a USB RAW format fix by using the following commands:
  1. diskpart
  2. list disk
  3. select disk (disk number)
  4. clean
  5. format fs=fat32
  6. assign
The best way to format a RAW device without losing data in the process is to perform RAW USB drive recovery using a data rescue program before proceeding with the formatting process.
There are some third-party programs that claim to be able to convert a RAW partition to FAT32 without requiring a format, though there’s no surefire way to do so besides shrinking the affected drive and converting part of it. It’s safer to perform RAW drive recovery first if you’d like to convert to another file system without losing data.
Similar to newer versions of Windows, you can format a hard drive to FAT32 on Windows 7 using the Command Prompt, Disk Management, or Windows Explorer.
To format a write-protected RAW USB, you’ll first need to remove the write protection. You can do so through the Command Prompt or the Windows Registry. Some USBs also have a physical switch you can flip to disable write protection.


Emma Collins is a content writer who has been writing tech tutorials & how-to guides relating to her wide interests in technology. She's been writing articles on Windows, Android, iOS, Social Media, Gaming, and more as a tech writer for over 5 years.
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12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.