RAW file system recovery

"RAW filesystem" issue typically occurs when the filesystem type information is missing or inconsistent between several system tables. Such an issue is often associated with external drives unplugged without "Safely removing" them first. The filesystem tables often get damaged during unsafe removal.

The "RAW filesystem" is generally recovered quite well. The typical scenario is to recover data from a device with a RAW filesystem, then format the device and copy the recovered data back to the device.

The most typical symptom of RAW filesystem is that Windows prompts "You need to format the disk before you can use it":
You need to format the disk before you can use it
Important: do not format the disk if you need to recover data from it.

RAW filesystem recovery using ReclaiMe File Recovery

  1. Make sure you have enough free space on a known-good drive or on a network to hold all the recovered data.
  2. Download, install, and run ReclaiMe File Recovery software.
  3. Identify the drive with a RAW filesystem in the device list. Most likely, it will have RAW listed as a filesystem type. Need help identifying your drive?
  4. RAW filesystem drive in ReclaiMe
  5. Double click that drive to start recovery.
  6. The files are displayed as soon as they are discovered.
  7. RAW drive recovery
  8. Select the file(s) or folder(s) you want to recover, and click Save button on the toolbar. Alternatively, click Save and select Save All from the menu.
  9. After data is copied, verify that the files were recovered correctly by actually opening and reviewing them.
  10. Once the successful recovery is confirmed, reformat the drive and put it back to use.

Additional information about RAW file system

What is RAW file system?

RAW filesystem is a filesystem which was not recognized by Windows. This means all the available filesystem drivers refused to mount the filesystem. This happens mostly if the records determining the filesystem type are damaged, most typically the partition table or the boot sector.

The volume which was created (using Disk Management) but not yet formatted is also indicated as RAW filesystem.

Additional symptoms
  • CHKDSK reports error message
    The type of the file system is RAW.
    CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.
  • Disk Management indicates the drive file system is "RAW"
  • Type of the filesystem is RAW
  • Sometimes trying to access the data on the drive results in a message like "X:\ is not accessible. The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted."
  • The volume does not contain a recongnized file system

Other useful information

The RAW file system website, www.raw-file-system.com, provides additional information. This includes RAW term definitions and also some preventive measures to avoid a RAW filesystem problem.

Other filesystems

Read more about common filesystem types used by Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

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