How to Recover Data from a RAW SD Card and Fix It

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recover raw sd cardWe often use SD cards to back up important files and information that we need on the move. So it can be frustrating to find out that your computer is refusing to let you access the card because it has gone into a RAW state. It might seem like you’ve lost all your data, but there are ways to successfully execute a RAW SD card recovery.

We’re going to get into all of the steps involved in that process in this article. Before that, let’s understand the problem a little better.

What Is a RAW SD Card?

A RAW SD card is one that appears unreadable by a computer. Essentially, you have the experience of not being able to access the files that you’ve stored on the SD card.

Internally, a RAW SD card is one whose file system has become damaged. This can happen due to a whole host of reasons. Whatever the cause might be, the operating system of your computer will be unable to read its contents.

SD cards in this state are called RAW because they’re in a state where the file system is in a completely raw or unusable state. You need to take some action to restore it to a readable format like FAT32 or NTFS.

How SD Cards Become RAW

If you find that your SD card is RAW, then there are a few common culprits behind that. That includes:

Reason Description
📟 Improper usage The file system has become corrupted due to improper startup or shutdown, hardware failures, etc.
🦠 Malware or virus The file system of your SD card is missing entirely due to the effects of a piece of malware, hardware issues, etc.
📲 Device compatibility The SD card’s file system is not compatible with the computer that you’re working on. This can be the case if either the card or computer are an old device.
📵 Failed formatting The file system formatting of the SD card is not done properly. This usually occurs due to bad formatting procedures and improper updates.

If you find that your SD card is in this condition, your operating system will usually give you the option of formatting it. That will make the card readable again, but you will lose all your data. The good news is that there are ways to fix a raw SD card without formatting it. Let’s find out what they are.

How to Recover Files From a RAW SD Card

Before you fix a RAW SD card, the smart thing to do is to back up the data in it. That way you still have access to all your files even if the procedure doesn’t go to plan. Disk Drill is a dependable RAW data recovery software which comes in a free version.

Here are the steps you can follow to recover files in a RAW SD card:

  1. Download the free version of Disk Drill at this link and install it on your computer. You will need to grant administrator-level access to the software so it can perform the recovery.
  2. Connect the SD card to your PC. You can do this either by inserting it in a card reader or by connecting a device containing the SD card to the computer.
  3. Now, open Disk Drill. You will see a list of the drives on your computer in the home screen. Select your SD card from that list.
  4. After that you can click on Search for lost data button and initiate the scan.
  5. At this stage, Disk Drill will start scanning for all the files on your SD card. Once that process is complete, it will show you a list of the files it has found. You can review all of the found items by clicking the blue button on the top right corner.
    disk drill scans the card
  6. Once you review them, click on the Recover button to start recovering the files on your SD card. The software will throw up a prompt where you can choose a location to safely store all the files. Select the location to complete the recovery.
    recover selected files

At this point, all of the data on your SD card is safely available at a different location. So you can access them from your computer if you please. That said, you still want to fix your RAW SD card so you can use it in the future. Here’s how you can do that.

How to Fix a RAW SD Card

For anyone depending on SD cards as their storage device, encountering a RAW SD card error can be confusing as it makes your card unreadable and your data inaccessible.

Fixing RAW SD cards, more often than not, requires you to format them. This means deleting everything on your card. To prevent data loss, it is crucial to perform data recovery prior to attempting any fixes.

There are different methods you can use to fix a RAW SD card. We will be exploring the process of fixing your SD card so it can be readable and accessible again.

Method 1: Fix a RAW SD Card Using Diskpart

Diskpart is a command-line tool that helps manage different partitions on your system. You can use this app to format your storage devices and configure them into readable formats such as FAT32, NTFS, etc. Remember, though, that formatting your card will erase all its data, so it’s best to back up your files before proceeding.

Here’s how you can format a RAW SD Card using the Diskpart tool:

  1. Connect the SD card to your computer.
  2. Open the command prompt and enter diskpart. On the screen that follows, type out the list disk command. Your command prompt will look something like this at this point.
    Windows diskpart list disk command
  3. Let’s say your SD card is the S: drive and you want to format it into an NTFS file system, then you’d type Disk S format fs=FAT32 and hit enter.

This lets the computer know to format the SD card and reconfigure it into the FAT32 file system. Unplug your SD card once this is done and reconnect it to check whether the process has been completed safely.

Method 2: Format RAW SD card in Disk Management

Disk Management is a built-in utility in Windows. Similar to Diskpart, it manages all partitions of storage devices, including formatting RAW SD cards. However, it comes with a more intuitive user interface rather than just a command prompt window.

Follow these steps to format RAW SD card with Disk Management:

  1. Open Disk Management by searching for “Disk Management” in the Start menu. The app will appear as “Create and format hard disk partitions” in the search results.
  2. Find your RAW SD card, right-click on the partition, and click Format…Formatting the RAW partition.
  3. Edit your SD card name if you want and set the File system to FAT, exFAT, FAT32, or NTFS, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions on your SD card model.Finishing the format.
  4. Click OK.Finalizing the format.

After the format is complete, your SD card should now be clean and accessible.

Method 3: Rewrite Partition Table Using TestDisk

TestDisk is a completely open-source recovery tool that specializes in recovering lost partitions and recovering deleted files. It is run via the command prompt without a modern-looking user interface, which can make it confusing for casual users. However, it is an effective tool to fix RAW SD cards.

Use TestDisk to rewrite the partition table by doing the following:

  1. Download the TestDisk zip and extract its files. Then, find and open testdisk_win.exe.
  2. Create a new log file by highlighting [Create] and pressing Enter.create new log file in Testdisk
  3. Choose the Disk representing your RAW SD card. Check which option matches the description (size, file system, etc.) of your device. Then, press Enter.Select the device
  4. Select the appropriate partition table type for your memory card and press Enter. Usually, the option TestDisk has selected by default is the correct one.Select partition
  5. Select Analyse and press Enter to analyze your SD card for any errors or corruptions.Partition structure
  6. Start Quick Search by pressing Enter.Search for deleted partition
  7. If your partition has been found, select [Continue] and press Enter. Otherwise, you can search for more partitions by selecting [Deeper Search].Deep search in Testdisk
  8. Select Write. This rewrites and registers the partitions in the partition table, which should make your SD card accessible again.Write the new partition structure


No, you can't use the CHKDSK for a RAW SD card. You'll get an error message "CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives".
Yes, you can recover data on an SD card. There are a lot of data recovery methods nowadays that can retrieve almost any type of file from your SD card. You can use built-in tools on Windows like File History or CHKDSK, or data recovery software to attempt to recover your files.
If you’re unable to format a RAW SD card, then the first thing you need to do is recover its contents using a tool like Disk Drill. You can then force format the SD card using the diskpart command in the command prompt.
Recover files from a corrupted RAW SD card with data recovery software Disk Drill using these steps:
  1. Install and open Disk Drill.
  2. Select your RAW SD card on the devices available and click Search for lost data.
  3. Click Review found items.
  4. Choose your files and click Recover.
  5. Choose the file location for your files.
  6. Wait for the recovery to finish. Click Show recovered data in File Explorer to check your recovered files.
You can use the command prompt to convert a RAW SD card into the FAT32 file system. Enter the following command into the prompt: Disk S format fs=FAT32. This command turns the content
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Prateek is a freelance writer who covers technology and culture for several online publications. He enjoys sports and watching movies when he’s not working.
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12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.