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How to Convert RAW to NTFS in Windows 7/8/10 on External Hard Drive


Summary: Have you ever encountered this problem: file system is RAW how to fix it? If you have experienced this issue, don't be panic. This post will offer some effective methods to recover files from the RAW partition and then convert RAW to NTFS in Windows 7/8/10.

RAW File System

"My Toshiba 1tb external hard drive currently says it is a raw file system and I cant seem to format it no matter what I do. I don’t care for what is inside (only one word file) but I just want to be able to use it again. Is there anyway I can format the HDD and make it usable again?"
--from tenforums

Here the above instance shows you the situation about RAW file system on external hard drive. Do you know what RAW is? Generally speaking, RAW refers to a file system which is not formatted by NT file system, such as NTFS and FAT. Actually, RAW issue is very common and it often occurs on many storage devices, such as hard disk, external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card and more. If no file system exists on a device, there can be no files or folders on this device, namely RAW partition can't be used to store data before it is formatted. In a word, once your disk becomes RAW, it is not allowed to access the target partition. The following figure shows you RAW drive in Disk Management:

raw file system

tip Usually some related RAW problems may occur:
  • You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it. Do you want to format it?
  • The type of the file system is RAW.CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.
  • Disk space is 0 bytes.
  • Invalid media type reading drive. Abort, Retry, Fail?
  • File names contain "weird" characters, "Sector not found" messages.

If your partition adopts NTFS file system before, but now it becomes RAW in Windows 7/8/10. Usually, some files or folders are saved on your external hard drive or other devices. In this case, you may ask: why file system is RAW? What should you do to convert RAW to NTFS or get data back from this RAW partition? Please keep reading to find the answers.

How to Convert RAW to NTFS

In general, the causes for this issue can be various in Windows 7/8/10, for example, virus infection, partition table damage, bad sectors, file system structural damage, disk damage, unexpected power outage and more. Due to different causes, the solutions to convert RAW to NTFS are also different. In this post, I will introduce you how to fix RAW hard drive to NTFS in different cases.

solution1 Solution 1: Recover RAW Partition to NTFS

As you know, the partition table and volume boot sector are two places where you can store the partition information. Once partition table on your external hard drive gets corrupted or damaged, Windows will fail to read this disk for any reason, and it reports your disk as RAW. Although the data is still there, the RAW partition is unable to be accessed. In this case, data recovery should be the first thing in Windows 7/8/10.

Do you know how to recover data from RAW partition and then format RAW to NTFS? Fortunately, MiniTool Partition Wizard has an ability to recover RAW partition data. As a piece of third-party software, it is reliable and professional to manage your disk and partition. Moreover, this partition software is compatible with some operating systems including Windows Vista/XP/7/8/8.1/10. Among powerful features of MiniTool Partition Wizard, a feature called "Partition Recovery" is very useful to do RAW file system recovery for the external hard drive.

This RAW to NTFS converter owns six editions, among them, the Professional Edition is highly worth recommending since "Partition Recovery" is a paid feature. Its Free Edition can only be used to scan lost partitions but not to recover partitions.

Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard Professional Edition. Then, go to its main interface.

recommend Note:
If RAW issue happens due to damaged partition table and boot sector, here you will find all partitions on your external hard drive have become unallocated space in Partition Wizard. (In Disk Management, partition shows "RAW".) This case has been tested by Windows 7 users, and please click this question Recover a flash drive turned RAW from sevenforums to learn the detailed information.

Right click on your external hard drive to select "Partition Recovery" feature in Windows 7/8/10. You can also select the target disk, and click "Partition Recovery" from "Check Disk" drop-down menu.

partition recovery

Step 2: Then it is time to choose a scanning range. From the following figure, you know MiniTool Partition Wizard provides three scanning range settings:

  • Full Disk: This mode is suitable to scan the entire disk.
  • Unallocated Space: It only scans the free space on your selected disk.
  • Specified Range: It is useful to scan specified sectors.

Then click on "Next" button to continue.

scanning range

Step 3: Then set scanning method for the specified scanning range. "Quick Scan" and "Full Scan" are two scanning methods. Between them, the former can restore lost/deleted partitions which are continuous and the latter is designed to scan each sector of the scanning range you have chosen.

scan mode

Step 4: After finishing the scanning, all partitions on your external hard drive will be listed here and then please select the partitions you need.

recover lsot partitions

Take the first partition as an example. When double clicking on this partition which is in RAW file system in Disk Management, and then all partition data will be displayed. Please check whether the files are your needs.

explore partition

Step 5: After that, click "Finish" to go back to the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard. Here you can preview all RAW partitions will be converted to NTFS. Finally, hit "Apply" button to perform RAW partition recovery operation in Windows 7/8/10.


note Notes:
After finishing RAW recovery, all partitions don’t have a drive letter. So please use MiniTool Partition Wizard to assign a drive letter with "Change Letter" feature.

With the help of the feature "Partition Recovery", it is very easy to retrieve RAW partition and format RAW to NTFS when partition table damage happens. If you are also having the same issue, download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition to check whether your partitions can be found or directly purchase it’s Professional Edition to do partition recovery to convert RAW to NTFS file system.


solution2 Solution 2: Format RAW Drive

If your external hard drive becomes RAW due to virus attack, improper operations, bad sectors or power outage, you can try to format this RAW partition to NTFS. Here maybe you ask: there are many files saved on your disk , but formatting will lead to data loss, so could the partition data be recovered firstly and then start to format? Of course. Here MiniTool Solution Ltd. also has a piece of professional data recovery software – MiniTool Power Data Recovery which is useful to recover data from RAW partition in Windows 7/8/10.

Before RAW data recovery, please stop doing any operation to your RAW drive on external hard drive, especially formatting. Otherwise, the chance of data recovery is slim.

Run MiniTool Power Data Recovery to the main interface. And then select "Damaged Partition Recovery" recovery module which is designed to retrieve data from RAW, formatted or damaged partitions. Then follow the pop-up wizard to recover data from RAW drive. Here is a related article Recover Data from RAW File System, RAW Partition and RAW Drive Efficiently.

data recovery

For more information, please watch this video.

Do you know how to format RAW hard drive to NTFS? Follow the four ways below now.

img1 Format RAW Drive in Disk Management

After finishing the recovery, now formatting RAW drive can be done. Usually, In Disk Management, you probably right click on the RAW drive and select "Format" feature to convert RAW to NTFS on external hard drive in Windows 7/8/10. Sometimes you can do this successfully, however, sometimes an error message saying "The format did not complete successfully" appears.

can't format

img2 Format in Windows Explorer

When opening Windows Explorer and clicking the RAW partition, "you need to format the disk in drive X before you can use it, do you want to format it" warning appears. If you right click it to format your RAW partition on external hard drive, sometimes you may fail with "Windows was unable to complete the format" error message.

What should you do if Windows Disk Management and Windows Explorer both fail to format RAW to NTFS? Try to convert RAW to NTFS with CMD.

img3 Convert RAW to NTFS Diskpart

Here I search "RAW external hard drive fix" online, a topic about failing to format from tomshardware forum shows a useful solution by using CMD in Windows 7/8/10. Run Command Prompt as Administrator, and then enter the following commands (each ends up with Enter key.) to do external hard drive raw format fix.

"list disk": all disks will be displayed.
"select disk n": n means the disk number of your external hard drive which contains RAW partition
"clean": remove all partitions.
"create partition primary"
"format FS=NTFS quick"

img4 Convert RAW to NTFS by MiniTool Partition Wizard

In addition to the above three tools, you can also ask MiniTool Partition Wizard for help. This partition manager can do the conversion between NTFS and FAT32, but "convert is not available for RAW drives" issue is a common sense on external hard drive, SD card, USB drive and other media since RAW is a false file system, so you can only use this tool to format your RAW partition in Windows 7/8/10.

Step 1: In Disk Management, the partition is in RAW file system. In the main interface of Partition Wizard, you will find the RAW drive shows "unformatted". Please click "Format Partition" feature from "Partition Management" menu.


Step 2: Select NTFS as the file system from the list. During the process, it is allowed to set partition label for the target partition.

change raw to ntfs

Step 3: Click "Apply" button to make this change effective.

raw to ntfs

In addition, there is another RAW partition I. Here partition I also shows "unformatted" and it is RAW in Disk Management, so you can also directly format it to NTFS in Windows 7/8/10, just like the above steps show.

solution3 Solution 3: Check RAW File System

img1 Use CHKDSK

If your external hard drive becomes RAW, maybe you choose CHKDSK to find and fix file system errors. Usually when opening diskpart to start the check, "CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" error appears.

chkdsk is not available for RAW drives

But sometimes "CHKDSK X: /f" can be done successfully. Why? Sometimes in Disk Management, your partition shows RAW file system. But in fact, it is not recognized as RAW by diskpart due to some unknown reasons. So you can try this solution in Windows 7/8/10.

img2 Run MiniTool Partition Wizard

If you also fail to convert RAW to NTFS on external HDD by CHKDSK, MiniTool Partition Wizard is also useful. When launching it to the main interface, perhaps your partition which shows RAW in Disk Management shows NTFS files system here. At this time, you can reboot your computer. If the partition is still normal in Partition Wizard, it is most likely the key file system information is corrupted. So please check and fix file system now.

Step 1: Right click on the target drive to select "Check File System" feature.

check file system

Step 2: Then in the pop-up window, there are two options for choice. Here select "Check & fix detected errors". And then click "Start" button to continue.

fix error

In solution 2 and 3, MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition can format partition and check file system error so as to convert RAW to NTFS. If you are interested in this tool, please download it now for a free try.

In addition to the above ways, there are three possible methods, such as change limits of authority and change drive letter. If all ways are not working, it is most likely that your external hard drive is damaged physically. So in this case, you only need to replace this disk in Windows 7/8/10.

Bottom Line

RAW file system issue is very common due to damaged partition table, bad sectors, virus attack, power outage and more in Windows 7/8/10. Once your external hard drive becomes RAW, the most important thing should be to convert RAW to NTFS. This post introduces you three solutions in detail and three possible methods to get RAW data back and recover RAW partition to NTFS. Please try them according to your need. Hope you can solve RAW issue successfully. If you have any suggestion or question, welcome to leave a comment below or email us via support@minitool.com.