Few things strike fear in the hearts of Windows users than when their system alerts them that Windows cannot recognize their drive or partition. Relax, there’s no need to panic. This normally means that your drive or partition is RAW, and with data recovery software, this is easily fixed with zero data loss.


Want to skip the introduction and jump straight to the recovery section? Click here.

Drive Recovery Explained

If your disk or partition is RAW, this means that the file system of your drive or partition is either:

  • ⛔ The drive’s file system is missing or damaged
  • ⚠️ The RAW drive or partition has yet to be formatted with a file system
  • 🖥️ The file system of the drive or partition is not recognized by Windows

There are four main types of Windows file systems: FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, and ReFS (Resilient File System).

If your drive or partition becomes corrupted or shows as RAW in DiskMgmt, fret not, as your data is still there. We’ve just got to recover it.

Is It Possible to Recover a RAW Partition Without Losing Data?


There are two ways to recover your data from your RAW partition or drive. Either you convert the RAW drive or partition back to a readable format, such as FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT or you can extract your desired files directly from the RAW drive or partition.

The quickest and best way to recover your data is with data recovery software. Of the plethora of data recovery tools available, Disk Drill is one of the best. And yes, it can recover data from devices and partitions appearing as RAW.

What makes Disk Drill so effective at data recovery, is it looks for signatures as well as other traces of recoverable data, as well as recognizes over 400 different file types. It’s intuitive user interface also makes it easy to use for even the most technically-challenged user. Disk Drill, for both the Mac and Windows, comes in two flavors, Disk Drill and Disk Drill Pro.


Interested in Disk Drill? Read more information about the tool in our comprehensive review. But now let’s move on to a step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Download and Install Disk Drill

  1. Open your web browser and navigate to www.cleverfiles.com.
  2. Click the “Free Download” button. Your Windows OS should be automatically recognized, and the latest Windows version of Disk Drill should start downloading. cleverfiles front page
  3. After “diskdrill.exe” has finished downloading, double-click the file in the “Downloads” folder to launch the installation. Please be patient while “diskdrill.exe” downloads. disk drill install start
  4. When presented with the Disk Drill Setup window, click “Install”. install disk drill
  5. After the Disk Drill setup completes, you have the option to Launch Disk Drill or Close the Disk Drill setup.

Step 2. Recover Files from a RAW Disk or Partition

  1. To recover files from your RAW disk or partition, launch Disk Drill from the Windows Start Menu. device info
  2. Select the RAW disk or partition. Click the “Recovery” tab.
  3. Choose either the “Recover all…” button or “Preview Found Items”.
  4. Remember if you’re using the free version of Disk Drill, you’re limited to 500 MBs. If you choose “Preview Found Items”, you’ll see an Explorer-like listing that allows you to select individual files or folders to recover. Once you’ve selected the files and folders you wish to recover. Click the “Recover” button.
  5. When presented with the “Recover lost data” window, enter your desired recovery directory in the “Recover to” box. Click “OK”. recovery path
  6. ⚠️

    Note: Don’t recover data to the same location to avoid overwriting data.

  7. Please be patient while Disk Drill recovers your desired files. When data recovery is completed, click the “Show recovered data in Explorer” button to view the recovered files.

Step 3. Recover RAW Drive or Partition

The main problem with RAW drives is they simply don’t have a file system. To quickly make RAW drives usable is by formatting them. However, prior to formatting the RAW drive to the file system of your choice, you first need to create a byte-to-byte copy of the RAW drive for recovery later.

  1. Launch Disk Drill and select “Data Backup” from the menu on the right. Highlight the RAW partition or drive you want to recover. Select the “Byte-to-Byte Backup” button in the upper right-hand corner of the window.
  2. Enter the name of the .dmg file you want to save the byte-to-byte backup to in the “Save as file” test box. Select Disk Image file (*.dmg) as type. Enter your desired path in the “Path” text box. Leave the Format drop-down as “Bytes” and accept the default values for “From…to”. Click “OK”.
  3. Please be patient as the byte-to-byte backup is being created.
  4. At the “Disk image created!” screen, click Done.
  5. Next, we need to format the RAW disk/partition. Start diskmgmt.msc from Windows Search, or, alternatively, the DOS prompt. format drive
  6. Locate the RAW disk/partition you want to format, left-click it, and select “Format from the drop-down menu”.
  7. At the “Format” window, enter your desired volume label in the appropriate text box, and select your desired file system from the drop-down menu. Leave “Allocation unit size” as default. Make sure the “Perform a quick format” is checked and Enable file and folder compression is not. Click “OK”. format options
  8. Click “OK” at the “Formatting this volume will erase data on it. Back up any data you want to keep before formatting. Do you want to continue?” warning window. format warning
  9. Your disk or partition is no longer in RAW format, and you can restore your data from the .dmg file you created earlier. format result

Frequently Asked Questions


As outlined in this article, RAW partition recovery, as well as RAW partition data recovery, is intuitive and relatively straightforward using Disk Drill Moreover, the web is chockfull of articles outlining how to use Disk Drill recovery with your RAW drive/partition and RAW data on a RAW drive/partition.

Travis is a United States Navy veteran and a battle-scarred IT professional from the days of paper tape, punched cards, and floppy disks. For the past four decades, he immersed himself in all things technology-related. Particularly Cloud Technologies (Azure, Google Cloud, AWS), Linux, and FOSS. He has been writing professionally on these and other topics for the past ten years.

Andrey Vasilyev

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.