USB flash drives provide an excellent portable means of storing your photos and videos, but what good is the data stored on it if the drive itself has turned RAW.
In this article, we will go over a few reasons behind this issue and some possible methods of recovering your files from a RAW pen drive.
Why Do USB Drives Become RAW?
Before jumping to the reasons behind the error, let’s learn what it actually means. RAW is a type of file system error that renders a storage drive unrecognized and inaccessible to the operating system. In other words, your OS won’t be able to read any data stored on it, and the drive itself will show up as corrupted or damaged.
Now that we are on the same page, let’s take a look at a few causes behind this issue:
- ⚠️ Improper Flash Drive Removal: Often when we’re done using the USB drive, we directly pull it out of the port and go about our business without giving it a second thought. However, it is considered a bad practice, and rightfully so. You might pull out the USB drive while it is in the middle of a writing process, leaving the data to become corrupted. Instead, it is advised to “eject” the drive first.
- 👾 Virus Attacks: Virus attacks are another common reason behind the “USB drives is RAW” error, as they can compromise the integrity of your storage and corrupt all your data. Not much can be said about it, except that it is recommended not to plug your USB drive into unauthorized computers without proper anti-virus software.
- 🚫 File System Corruption: Modern USB flash drives have become less prone to logical failures in hindsight. However, it doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong with them. If the file system of your pen drive is corrupt or not supported by your operating system, it will show up as RAW, and you won’t be able to access any data stored on it.
- ⛔ Bad Sectors: All typical drives are chunked up into logical data storing units called sectors. Any physical damage to these sectors will render them unreadable, and your operating system will skip them while going through your storage device. There are two types of bad sectors: hard and soft.
While it is impossible to repair some bad sectors of a hard drive, some soft bad sectors can usually be fixed.
Symptoms of a RAW USB Flash Drive
Now that we have discussed the possible reasons behind your USB flash drive showing up as RAW, let’s go through a few symptoms so you can spot the issue.
As mentioned earlier, when your flash drive becomes RAW, your operating system won’t be able to read any data on it. It can be seen as a tell-tale sign of this issue, and you can cross-check it too. Simply go to the properties of the drive your PC is struggling to access, and there, you can see if the file system has changed from FAT32 to NTFS or RAW.
It is also possible that your flash drive is appearing as empty even though you have all your files, photos, and videos stored on it. On the contrary, your drive report might also say 0 bytes of space available even though your drive is showing up as empty.
Windows Asks To Format USB
If Windows asks you to format your flash drive when you plug it in, it means that your OS believes that it hasn’t been previously formatted. However, you should not format it as you won’t be able to easily recover the data stored on it.
Corrupt Files and Folders
If you can view all the files and folders on your drive, but the names appear to be changed or contain unusual characters, it’s an indication that your USB has turned RAW. Moreover, you might find that some files and folders have been deleted or simply not showing up.
Can You Recover Data From a RAW USB Drive?
Even though it is panic-inducing to see all the data stored in your flash drive has become inaccessible, there is no need to worry. There are plenty of RAW USB drive recovery software online that can help you out without requiring professional assistance.
One such software is Disk Drill, which is one of the best data recovery apps online. We will be using it as an example further in this article to show you how to recover files from RAW USB drive.
How to Recover Data From a RAW USB Drive?
Disk Drill is one of the best USB recovery software for retrieving data from any kind of storage drive. It is not only accessible to casual users through its easy-to-read GUI, but you can also start recovering data in a few simple steps without wasting a lot of time.
Apart from recovering deleted files from a USB flash drive, Disk Drill can also create a byte to byte backup of it.
- Download Disk Drill from the official website.
- Once the download is finished, head over to the download location to find disk-drill-win. Launch the setup application.
- A dialogue box will appear. Click on Install to continue.
- Wait patiently for the software to install.
- Once the installation is complete, click on Launch.
- You will be able to see all the storage drives connected to your PC on the Disk Drill app homepage.
- Click on Drive Backup to continue.
- Now, select your RAW USB drive and click on Byte-to-byte backup.
- Next, choose a landing destination and select the file type as .dmg. When you’re done, click on OK.
- Disk Drill will now create an exact byte-to-byte replica of your USB drive. Wait patiently for the process to complete.
- Once the backup is complete, click on OK to continue.
- Now that you have a replica of your flash drive, it has become easier to perform data recovery on it. To do that, click on Data recovery on the Disk Drill app homepage.
- On the next screen, navigate to the 3-dot icon in the top-right corner and expand the menu. Click on Attach disk image…
- A pop-up will appear. Select the backup image you just created and click on OK to continue.
- The attached disk image will show up in the list of available devices. Click on it.
- Now, click on Search for lost data.
- Disk Drill will scan your flash drive for data.
- Once the scan is complete, click on Review found items.
- On the next screen, you can select all the files you want to recover. Or you can click on Recover all to retrieve all the files stored on your drive.
- Now, select a landing destination for all your recovered files and click on OK.
Congratulations, you have successfully performed data recovery on your RAW flash drive.
How to Fix a RAW USB?
Even though it is best to recover RAW USB drive data and then format it later, there are a few methods you can imply to fix it. Some of them are as follows:
Method 1: Using Error Checking Tool
- Connect your RAW USB flash drive to your PC.
- Now, go to the Windows File Explorer and locate your flash drive there.
- Right-click on your faulty drive and go to Properties.
- A pop-up window will appear on your screen. Now, click on the Tools tab to continue.
- On the next screen, press Check to start the error-checking tool.
- In the next pop-up, click on Scan Device to start the scan.
- Windows will run a scan for errors on your RAW drive. Once it is complete, a pop-up will notify you about any drive-related issues. Once the issue is resolved, click on Close.
Method 2: Formatting to Fix Drive Error
Even though it is easy to recover data from a formatted USB drive, we only recommend this method if your drive doesn’t contain valuable information.
- Go to the Windows file explorer and navigate to your drive.
- Right-click on your drive and select Format.
- A pop-up will appear on your screen. Here, select a new file system type for your drive. We recommend choosing either NTFS or FAT32.
- You can also rename your drive in this step.
- Make sure Quick Format is ticked under Format options.
- Once everything is in order, click on Start to begin formatting the RAW USB drive.
- A warning dialogue box will pop up. Click on OK to continue.
- Once it is done, you will receive a message that says Format Complete. Click on OK.
Method 3: Converting Using Command Prompt
Before we move on with this method, it’s worth noting that it should only be followed if the drive doesn’t contain important data as it will be lost during the conversion.
- In the Windows search bar, type cmd to search for the command prompt. Now, click on Run as administrator to continue.
- In the command prompt window, type “diskpart” and hit Enter.
- Next, type in list disk and hit Enter. This command displays all the active drives connected to your PC.
- Type select disk x and hit Enter. This command is used to select a particular drive to work with. 👀
Replace x with the number of your faulty drive.
- Now, type clean and hit Enter. Doing this will erase all data and filesystem of the selected drive.
- It’s time to create a new partition on your drive. Type create primary partition and hit Enter.
- Then, input active to activate the newly created partition.
- Next, type list partition to display a list of all the partitions on your flash drive.
- Type select partition 1 and press Enter. This command is used to select the partition you’ve just created.
- Now, enter the following command– FORMAT OVERRIDE QUICK LABEL=FixedDrv. This command will format your partition to NTFS. Here, FixedDrv is the name of the recovered flash drive, and it can be anything you prefer.
- Now type exit to leave DiskPart.
- Your flash drive is now recovered and will be displayed under the name you chose during the diskpart process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions related to recovering data from a USB flash drive that has turned RAW:
It might be panic-inducing to see your flash drive has become RAW, and suddenly you’ve lost all access to your important data. But, as we’ve discussed in this article, it’s extremely easy to recover all your data and fix your USB drive as well along the way. However, if the problem persists for you even after going through all the methods we’ve mentioned in this article, it’s best to seek professional help before you end up losing all your data forever.
Ojash started his tech journalism journey six years ago after quitting his job as an SEO analyst. Fueled by his passion for technology (and coffee), he writes how-to guides that help people solve problems with their computers and smartphones. When not writing, you can find him in his garage working on his electric cars or a new Arduino project.
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.