After booting Windows, you’re quickly met with a message that suggests formatting one of your drives. Confused, you take a look. Upon closer inspection, it appears that one of your drives is showing as RAW. When attempting to fix it with CheckDisk, you get the message “CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives”.
Until your drive is fixed, all of the data on it will remain inaccessible. Don’t worry though, as this article will provide you with various methods you can use to fix this problem.
Why Did You Encounter the “CHKDSK Is Not Available for RAW Drives” Error?
CheckDisk is a repair utility included with Windows that is capable of fixing various hard drive-related problems. In order to do so, it relies on the file system and file system metadata of the volumes contained on your drives.
When a partition shows as RAW, it often means one of two things:
- The file system is incompatible with the operating system you’re using
- The file system has become damaged or corrupted
Either way, the data on that partition is no longer accessible, as the operating system has no way of knowing how to read or access it. Since RAW is essentially the absence of a file system, CheckDisk will not work as it has no file system to scan.
The only way to fix this error message is by formatting the drive. However, formatting the drive means deleting all the data currently on it. Therefore, before you perform a format, you should first recover as much data as you can using data recovery software to avoid complete data loss.
I get a “CHKDSK Is Not Available For RAW Drives” error and want to restore data
|How to Recover Data From a Drive If You Can’t Run CHKDSK|
I get a CHKDSK error and I want to fix it. I don’t need the data on the drive.
|Format Using File Explorer|
How to Recover Data From a Drive If You Can’t Run CHKDSK
Right now, although your data is still present on the drive, it’s very vulnerable and even the simplest action can cause it to become unrecoverable. Before attempting to fix the error, recover your data using Disk Drill, a data recovery tool with a proven track record of successful recoveries that’s specially designed for data loss scenarios such as this one.
Disk Drill is also able to recover files from a formatted drive if you have already formatted it.
Disk Drill is capable of recovering straight from the RAW drive, but it’s also able to make a copy of your drive and perform recovery on that, so as to preserve your original data. These instructions will guide you through making a copy of the problematic drive and recovering data from it:
- Download and install Disk Drill to another drive.
- Click Drive Backup.
- Select your drive, then click Byte-to-byte Backup.
- Fill in the necessary details and click OK. When the backup is complete, click Done.
- Return to the Data Recovery section and add the image by clicking Attach disk image.
- Select the image and click Search for lost data.
- Click Review found items when the scan is complete.
- Mark what files you want to recover. The Recovery chances column will tell you the chances of successfully recovering each file. When ready, click Recover.
- Specify the output location. It’s imperative that you avoid recovering the files to the same drive you’re recovering them from, as it could cause your data to become overwritten. When ready, click OK.
The above steps not only work for RAW drive recovery but also RAW SD card recovery and RAW USB recovery. Once the data is restored, be sure to create a backup to ensure you’re covered in case another data loss event occurs in the future.
How to Fix “CHKDSK Is Not Available for RAW Drives” Error
As RAW indicates your drive has an incompatible or damaged file system, the “CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives” fix involves formatting your RAW drive with a usable one. This will convert the RAW partition to something like FAT32 or NTFS, depending on the type of file system you would like to use.
When a drive is RAW, Windows 10 often automatically displays a prompt that reads “You need to format the disk in drive *: before you can use it”. If you dismissed the prompt, clicking the disk in File Explorer will trigger it again, allowing you to format. Alternatively, here are some other ways you can format the drive.
Method 1: Format Using File Explorer
You can format your drive directly through File Explorer. This is one of the fastest ways as File Explorer is easily accessible and familiar to a lot of Windows users. Follow these instructions to format the drive using File Explorer:
- Open File Explorer.
- Right-click the RAW drive and select Format.
- Set the format parameters (ensure Quick format is selected) and click Start.
- Click OK to confirm.
Method 2: Format Using Disk Management
Disk Management is a Windows system utility that allows you to manage your disks and the partitions on them. Using it, you can format the drive to fix the “CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives” error.
- Right-click Start and select Disk Management.
- Right-click the RAW partition, then select Format.
- Name the partition and choose a file system. Make sure Perform a quick format is ticked. Click OK.
- Click OK again to confirm.
Method 3: Format Using CMD (DiskPart)
DiskPart is a command interpreter that does a lot of the same things you can achieve with Disk Management but at a command-line level and with more control. By following the below instructions, you can add a new file system if CHKDSK is saying the file system is RAW.
- Right-click Start and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
- Type diskpart and press Enter.
- Type list disk and press Enter. Make note of the disk number that has the RAW partition.
- Type select disk 2. Replace 2 with your own disk number.
- Type list volume and press Enter. Make note of the RAW volume number.
- Type select volume 4. Replace 4 with your own volume number. Press Enter.
- Type clean and press Enter.
- Type create partition primary and press Enter. This creates a new blank primary partition.
- Type format fs=ntfs and press Enter. This formats the volume with NTFS.
- Type assign and press Enter. This assigns a drive letter.
Some Useful Tools for RAW Drive Recovery
Not all tools can recover RAW partitions. If Disk Drill didn’t work out for you or you’re just interested in checking out alternatives, here are a few of our recommendations:
- TestDisk – Created by CGSecurity, TestDisk is an open-source recovery tool capable of recovering lost RAW partitions in place.
- DiskGenius – In addition to managing your partitions and backing up your data, DiskGenius can also recover RAW partitions.
- Windows File Recovery – Following a quick format, Windows File Recovery is capable of recovering the lost data from the RAW partition.
Check out our list of the best data recovery apps for more recommendations.
When a partition reads as RAW, it means your operating system cannot read the file system on the drive. This could be because the file system is incompatible or has become damaged. Until a RAW partition is fixed, the data on the partition is inaccessible unless recovered using a data recovery tool.
To fix this error, you must format the RAW drive with a new file system. Bear in mind that this will delete any data present on it, so make sure you recover what you can first with a data recovery tool.
First, you must recover the data from the drive. Then, you must format it to fix it. For example, if you had a RAW external hard drive, you should recover files from the RAW external hard drive and then format the drive with a usable file system.
You can attempt to fix it using CheckDisk with the command chkdsk *: /r (replace * with your drive letter) in a Command Prompt terminal. If that fails, you can use a data recovery tool to restore the partition to working order. For example, if you have a RAW external hard drive, a data recovery tool like TestDisk can recover the external hard drive without formatting as it restores the original partition that resided there.
You can use CHKDSK for RAW drives, but only in cases where the NTFS file system is recoverable from the boot sectors at the beginning of each volume on the drive. If this is not possible, Windows will display the error message “CHKDSK Is Not Available For RAW Drives”.
CHKDSK can fix RAW drives if the conditions are right. If the first boot sector of the NTFS drive has been compromised, CHKDSK can recover the file system using the boot sectors found at the beginning of the other volumes.
The error “CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives” appears when you’re trying to repair a RAW disk using CheckDisk. Since CheckDisk uses the file system of the drive to perform diagnostics, it cannot run if the file system is damaged or unusable.
In order to fix this error, you must first recover the data on the drive. Once the data is recovered, format it with a working file system. Formatting the drive will overwrite the incompatible or damaged file system and restore normal functionality.
Jordan Jamieson-Mane is a freelance content writer with a passionate interest in technology. Starting from a young age, this interest gradually turned into a career, with Jordan studying in the field of IT and moving into a technical role right out of tertiary education. After gaining first-hand experience in the field, he started his journey as a freelance content writer. As a tech enthusiast, his interests within the realm of technology include hardware, networking, smart technology, and consumer electronics.
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.