When you turn on your computer, the last thing you want to see is a RAW partition. When one of your partitions has become RAW, it either means there’s something wrong with the file system or your operating system doesn’t recognize it. In most cases, your data will still remain intact, although it will be inaccessible.
While formatting the partition with a new file system like NTFS will fix it, you will lose all of your data in the process. Instead, we’re going to show you ways you can convert RAW to NTFS without losing data.
Methods to Convert RAW to NTFS
Name of the method
When to use
The most straightforward method.
For tech-savvy users that are used to cmd
The quickest method.
Table of Contents
Why Do You Need to Convert RAW to NTFS?
A partition in a RAW state cannot be used to read or write data as it’s unrecognizable to the operating system. Before we discuss methods on how you can fix RAW partition without losing data, it’s good to know how it has happened. There are three common reasons why the partition is being read as RAW:
Unsupported file system – If your drive is formatted with a file system that’s not supported by Windows (for instance, Apple’s HFS+), Windows will automatically suggest formatting the drive when it’s connected, even if there’s data on it.
Corrupted file system – In the event of your system experiencing unexpected power failure during a write operation, this interruption could result in the file system becoming corrupted. If so, the partition will be read as RAW by the operating system.
Missing a file system – When your file system is deleted or altered incorrectly, Windows will automatically label it as RAW until it’s formatted with a supported file system.
If you had data on that partition before it was converted to RAW, that data will still remain there until it’s deleted or overwritten. This is why everyone should strive to convert RAW to NTFS without formatting, as there’s a good chance you can still restore all your files.
Steps to Make Before Converting a RAW Drive to NTFS
Making any changes to a partition in a RAW can be detrimental to the data that’s on it. Before doing anything to your partition structure, it’s important that you either create a backup of the RAW partition or recover data from your hard drive using data recovery software. This is essential if you want to fix RAW hard drive to NTFS without losing the data.
All solutions in this list will require you to format the partition with the NTFS file system, which will delete what contents are on it. In order to convert RAW to NTFS without data loss, it’s essential that you either back up the existing data on the RAW partition or attempt to recover it using recovery software before trying to restore the partition.
For both steps, we’re going to be using Disk Drill, a data recovery tool that can restore deleted or lost data. It also allows you to create a backup of the RAW partition to ensure your data is safe before attempting any fixes.
Create a Byte-to-Byte Image
While Disk Drill’s main feature is data recovery, it also comes with a feature that allows you to create a byte-to-byte image of the disk. This is helpful in ensuring your data is backed up for when we convert the partition from RAW to NTFS.
Click the dropdown on the disk that contains the RAW partition, then click on the RAW partition. Click Byte-to-byte Backup.
Choose a location where you want the backup saved.
This image will include all of the data contained in the RAW partition. Having a complete copy enables you to fix RAW drive without losing data.
Recover Data Using Disk Drill
Even though you can’t access your data using Windows Explorer, it can still be recovered using Disk Drill. This is perfect for RAW data recovery, as recovering your files through Windows Explorer is impossible when it can’t be accessed.
Expand the dropdown of the disk that contains the RAW partition, then select the partition. Click Search for lost data. The scan will start.
When the scan has finished, click on Review found items.
Go through the list of discovered files and mark what files you want to recover by ticking the box next to the file name. You can use the search feature to find specific files to be recovered. When ready, click Recover.
Specify where you want the files recovered to. When ready, click OK.
Once your data is recovered, you’ll have the ability to recover RAW partition to NTFS without worrying about losing your data in the process.
How to Format RAW Drive Using Disk Management
Once you’ve created a backup or recovered the data using data recovery software, your next step is to fix the partition by formatting it with a new file system. To do this, we’re going to use the Disk Management tool that’s included with Windows.
Right-click Start and click Disk Management.
Right-click the RAW partition, then click Format.
Provide a name for the partition. For the file system, choose NTFS from the dropdown. Press OK when ready.
When the warning dialogue appears, click OK to confirm your selection.
How to Convert RAW Drive to NTFS Using Command Prompt
If you’re more familiar with a command-line interface, you can achieve the same results using Command Prompt, the built-in command-line terminal that comes with Windows.
Press Windows Key + S and search Command Prompt. Right-click the top result and select Run as administrator. If prompted to allow access, click Yes.
Type diskpart and press Enter.
Type list disk and press Enter.
Type select disk 1 and press Enter. Replace the number with whichever number appears for the applicable disk.
Type clean and press Enter. This will wipe the disk so it’s ready to accept a new file system.
Type create partition primary and press Enter.
Type format fs=ntfs and press Enter. This will format the drive with the NTFS file system.
Finally, type assign and press Enter. This will apply a drive letter so that the partition becomes accessible.
How to Convert RAW to NTFS Using File Explorer
The File Explorer in Windows provides a streamlined way of formatting your drive with the NTFS file system to repair RAW partition.
Open File Explorer.
Right-click the drive that contains the RAW partition, then click Format.
Specify a volume label (or leave it blank), and select NTFS as the file system. Ensure that Quick Format is enabled, and click Start when ready.
When the warning dialogue appears, click OK to finalize the format.
How To Fix a RAW Drive Without Format
While the quickest way to fix a RAW drive would be to simply format it and change its file system, not everyone has the time or resources to back up their drive, wipe it, and copy over all the backed-up data. In this case, there are a few techniques you could try to repair the RAW drive without having to format it.
Update the Driver
RAW drives can sometimes be a symptom of outdated drivers, meaning a quick driver update could be just what you need to get the drive working again. Here’s how you can accomplish this:
Type “device manager” into the search tool on your taskbar and select the top result.
Locate your hard drive from the list of devices, then right-click it and select Update driver.
Select the Search automatically for drivers option and Windows will scour the internet for the latest driver and install it for you.
CHKDSK is a built-in Windows tool that performs an integrity scan of a drive’s file system and attempts to fix any errors. The same tool can be used to potentially repair a RAW partition. Follow the instructions below to utilize CHKDSK on your drive:
Bring up the Run command dialogue box by pressing Windows + R. Type in “cmd” and press Shift + Ctrl + Enter simultaneously to run Command Prompt with administrator privileges.
Type “chkdsk” followed by the drive letter of the RAW volume you want to repair. For us, our string was “chkdsk d:”. Once you type it out, hit the Enter key to start the scan.
CHKDSK will now scan your drive and try to repair any errors it finds. Hopefully, this fixes your RAW problem.
Change the Drive Letter
The appearance of a RAW drive could just mean that its drive letter is in conflict with another volume, rendering it inaccessible. Fortunately, this can easily be remedied. Here are the steps on how to change your drive letter:
Type “disk management” into the search tool on your taskbar and select the top result. It should be labeled as “Create and format hard disk partitions”.
Right-click the RAW drive and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths… option.
Click the Change… button.
Expand the dropdown on the right side of the window and select the new drive letter from the list. Make sure this is not in conflict with any other drive letters currently in use. When you’re ready, click the OK button to proceed.
You’ll get a pop-up warning that certain programs that depend on the drive letter may stop working if you go through with this. Click Yes to finalize the process.
A RAW partition is a specific volume of your physical disk that, from the perspective of the operating system you’re running, does not seem to have a file system in place. This makes the volume and its files inaccessible to the OS.
You can leverage the Windows Command Prompt tool to help repair a drive’s partition table through the “Bootrec/fixmbr” and “Bootrec/fixboot” commands. However, if the volume that’s in trouble is the one where Windows is installed, then you’ll likely need an installation disk to boot Windows and launch a Command Prompt.
Formatting a hard drive automatically means that you’ll be erasing all of the data within it, so the only way to accomplish this process without losing data would be to create a backup before going through with it. Once the format is complete, simply copy all the files from the backup over to the formatted drive.
Seeing a RAW partition upon boot can instantly make you think that all of your important data is gone. Thankfully, through the methods outlined in this article, you can restore your RAW partition to NTFS without losing your files.
To avoid this going forward, it’s important to make regular backups of your data. Keeping backups allows you to restore a copy of your files in the event of catastrophic data loss.