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”.

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.

ProblemSolution
I get a “CHKDSK Is Not Available For RAW Drives” error and want to restore dataHow to Recover Data From a Drive If You Can’t Run CHKDSK

Some Useful Tools for RAW Drive Recovery

I get a CHKDSK error and I want to fix it. I don’t need the data on the drive.Format Using File Explorer

Format Using Disk Management

Format Using CMD (DiskPart)

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:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill to another drive.
  2. Click Drive Backup.Making a drive backup.
  3. Select your drive, then click Byte-to-byte Backup.Creating the byte-to-byte backup.
  4. Fill in the necessary details and click OK. When the backup is complete, click Done.Starting the Disk Drill backup.
  5. Return to the Data Recovery section and add the image by clicking Attach disk image.Attaching the disk image for scanning.
  6. Select the image and click Search for lost data.Starting the Disk Drill scan.
  7. Click Review found items when the scan is complete.Reviewing what Disk Drill found.
  8. 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.Recovering the discovered items.
  9. 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.Confirming the recovery using Disk Drill.

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:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Right-click the RAW drive and select Format.Formatting through Windows Explorer.
  3. Set the format parameters (ensure Quick format is selected) and click Start.Starting the format.
  4. 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.

  1. Right-click Start and select Disk Management.Opening Disk Management.
  2. Right-click the RAW partition, then select Format.Formatting the partition using Disk Management.
  3. Name the partition and choose a file system. Make sure Perform a quick format is ticked. Click OK.Confirming the Disk Management format.
  4. 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.

  1. Right-click Start and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).Opening PowerShell.
  2. Type diskpart and press Enter.Running the diskpart command.
  3. Type list disk and press Enter. Make note of the disk number that has the RAW partition.Listing the available disks.
  4. Type select disk 2. Replace 2 with your own disk number.Selecting the disk.
  5. Type list volume and press Enter. Make note of the RAW volume number.Listing the available volumes.
  6. Type select volume 4. Replace 4 with your own volume number. Press Enter.Selecting the volume.
  7. Type clean and press Enter.Cleaning the partition.
  8. Type create partition primary and press Enter. This creates a new blank primary partition.Creating a primary partition.
  9. Type format fs=ntfs and press Enter. This formats the volume with NTFS.Formatting the partition.
  10. Type assign and press Enter. This assigns a drive letter.Assigning 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.

FAQ

Conclusion

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.