From NTFS to RAW and Back

I already wrote what happened to my Maxtor hard drive, it has bad sectors. At first I thought that I only have bad sectors in first out of two partitions, but it turned out that I was wrong and that my other partition (which has only 3GB free space out of 40GB size) also has bad sectors. I found out about it when I saw that Windows reported my partition as RAW instead of NTFS.

NTFS to RAW file system change happened by itself, I think from bad sectors because I didn’t delete partition or change anything on that partition. We all know that when you have problems with your hard drive you should NOT write anything to it and also if you have bad sectors they can spread. Because of that, I disconnected the drive until I could find another drive with enough space to backup my data.
When I freed up some space on my 200GB HD, I connected hard drive with bad sectors to my computer again.

This is what I did to solve my RAW file system problem:

  • go to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Management>Storage>Disk Management
  • right click on problematic partition and chose option Change Drive Letter and Paths
  • click Add (if your partition is not already mounted) and select drive letter you want, I used letter Z so I could easily distinguish it from other partitions

NOTE: If you try to open that Z: partition from My Computer, Windows will report that it’s not formatted and ask if you would like it that he formats it… since you really, really dont want that to happen (under any circumstances) you allways select NO to this question :)

  • go to Start>Run (or just press Ctrl+R)
  • type cmd to open command prompt
  • then in command prompt type “chkdsk Z: /f “ (Z: is drive letter under which you mounted your partition, /f option is to make chkdsk fix errors, maybe I needed to use /r but it would probably take very long time – locates bad sectors and recovers readable information)

Chkdsk utility reported and fixed some errors. And finally now my Z: partition was once again in NTFS file system and readable (me very happy :)). If you have bad sectors like I did, you should backup your data ASAP.
I started to copy files from that partition to my 200GB and managed to save almost all of my data. There were only ten or so small pictures which I was unable to recover because of bad sectors. So the total size of lost files is approximately about 5MB which was nothing compared to about 35GB of data I was able to save.

89 thoughts on “From NTFS to RAW and Back

  1. That doesn’t work for me. It tells me that it cannot perform that action on a RAW drive.

    What next?

  2. You cant mount it?

    Then you have no choice but to use some data recovery software. I cant recommend anything because i didn’t need to use that kind of software for a long time.

  3. Great and Thank you very much. This procedure really helped to retrieve my files and folders. But, I had a question. After chkdsk my drive it showed 4kb in bad sector out of 225gb (My hard disk capacity is 500gb ). What shall I do now? Shall I replace it or can be used as earlier. Please suggest me.

    1. I personally would backup all my data and replace the hard drive. Bad sectors suggest the drive is failing, and likely, more bad sectors will follow.

  4. Its crazy, but since windows allowed Check Disk in Properties, I have never actually tried Chkdsk command, Thanks for giving me my DOS days back for some time, It worked and Thanks a lot, I was about to recover data and format the drive, when I thought what the hack why should i format if i can recover. Thanks again It is 2 TB Drive You saved my One full Days Time. It got over within 10 Mins.

  5. Thanks brother, you saved my 300 GB of precious videos and pictures! although a few photos couldn’t be saved, but you saved my ass!

  6. I bought Active File Recovery to locate and recover to another drive all the files on my (unwelcome) RAW partition in case anything else I did made matters worse. Having safely rescued 260GB of photographs (most of them had been backed up already but I had not done a back up for a long time – over a year!) I then ran the chkdsk utility on the RAW partition and went to make a cup of tea. I brought my drink back to the PC and the partition was back as NTFS and all the files visible and accessible. Perhaps I could have got away without spending the £20 ($29.95) on the recovery software – but it was not a risk I was prepared to take. After that scare, I will be more methodical in my back up habits.

  7. Thanks it work great to me… here the screenshoot

    C:\Windows\system32>chkdsk h: /f
    The type of the file system is NTFS.
    Volume label is MUS-MDD2.
    
    CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
      778912 file records processed.
    File verification completed.
      56 large file records processed.
      0 bad file records processed.
      0 EA records processed.
      0 reparse records processed.
    CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
      784836 index entries processed.
    Index verification completed.
      0 unindexed files scanned.
      0 unindexed files recovered.
    CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...
      778912 file SDs/SIDs processed.
    Security descriptor verification completed.
      2963 data files processed.
    CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...
      9018080 USN bytes processed.
    Usn Journal verification completed.
    Correcting errors in the Volume Bitmap.
    Windows has made corrections to the file system.
    
     312427519 KB total disk space.
     201655392 KB in 27603 files.
         97336 KB in 2964 indexes.
             0 KB in bad sectors.
        863747 KB in use by the system.
         65536 KB occupied by the log file.
     109811044 KB available on disk.
    
          4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
      78106879 total allocation units on disk.
      27452761 allocation units available on disk.
    
  8. I’m really thankful for this easy fix. My 1TB External HDD went RAW and two days of 11/11 hours of scanning lost partitions and lost data using tools were of no avail. Finally found this last bit of blog and it saved me from an eternal agony.

    God Bless you.

  9. Super, It worked for me.
    Work time 43 hours :)

    Replacing bad clusters in logfile.
    Adding 1237 bad clusters to the Bad Clusters File.
    Correcting errors in the master file table's (MFT) DATA attribute.
    Correcting errors in the master file table's (MFT) BITMAP attribute.
    Correcting errors in the Volume Bitmap.
    Windows has made corrections to the file system.
    
     107667455 KB total disk space.
      32811288 KB in 126303 files.
        100044 KB in 22792 indexes.
          4948 KB in bad sectors.
        220435 KB in use by the system.
         65536 KB occupied by the log file.
      74530740 KB available on disk.
    
          4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
      26916863 total allocation units on disk.
      18632685 allocation units available on disk.
    
      1. Yes, I will do.

        Windows after ScanDisk won’t start properly. Restore does not help.
        Probably i need reinstall Windows.

  10. Thank you soooo much , it really worked!!!!! My drive partition changed from NTFS to RAW when Windows 7 asked me to scan and Fix the drive when I plugged it into the USB port, normally I would not do that but because I had a problem with a file, I decided to do it….. after this my HDD failed and changed it into a RAW partition!!!, this is my 2nd drive in 3 weeks!!!, so I am not sure if Windows 7 is causing this!!, it is possible!! In computer management I deleted the drive letter and then created a new one, I changed it to drive Z. Then I run cmd.exe and typed chkdsk Z: /f , after this my partition was back, as described!!!, so happy thank you so much…. now I am going to backup my data ASAP from that drive!! Thanks again!!!

  11. just want to add, “command prompt” must be run as administrator e.g program then accessories then command prompt(right click) and select run as administrator. Its work like a charm..500gb within 15 seconds. thank you bosss!! from malaysia with love .

  12. Wonderful…result.. I’m really happy…..
    My 1TB WD External HDD convert RAW to NTFS…..and fix error….

    A lot of Thanks………….Boss

  13. WOrks Like a Charm .. thanks dude u saved me about 6 months of boredom .. Chkdsk in cmd works but the error check from the drive properties doesnt work ..

  14. thanks! Stupid win8 – I had normal NTFS drive. At first told me it needs to check the disk. When it finished checking, disk was RAW! So after I ran chdisk second time, it turned it back to NTFS. Really strange.

  15. Thanks a lot dude, this works for me as well… m really happy to have my hdd back…. just one small que… can I continue using this hdd or you suggest me to change it….just got know that this happens coz of direct removal of hdd frm yr system.. so m never gonna do it in future….. Thanks again.. waiting for yr valuable desicion…..

    1. You only need to change if it has bad sectors or in case of strange clicking sounds. Reading S.M.A.R.T. data with some HDD software could tell you more about condition of your hard drive.

  16. ok i did what you said then windows didnt give me acces to the hdd then i went to safe mode and tried to acces the hdd from there in got acces but there were no files on the hdd. But in my computer the hdd shows only 750gig of 3tb available…why cant i see my files???

  17. Thank you so much, you have saved me before and I am following the instructions to help fix my husbands now! You saved me so much time and grief by sharing! Thank you!

  18. chkdsk Z: /f didn’t work
    chkdsk Z: /r didn’t work
    The type of the file system is RAW
    CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives
    could you please help me ? thanks

    1. it does not work for me as it says ‘chkdsk is not available for raw drives’. please tell me if there is any other option…

  19. RAW FILE SYSTEM CAN EASILY CONVERTED USING DATA RECOVERY SOFTWARE AND FORMAT. BUT IS ANY UTILITY IS AVAILABLE TO CONVERT RAW FILE SYSTEM TO NTFS OR FAT

  20. I have a 1 TB WD external memory that has turned to RAW. I ran chkdsk Z:/f, as you mentioned. But, it is very slow. I took two hours to process 278 of 594944 files. Moreover, it says the files are unreadable. Could you please guide me what to do ans is there any hope for me?
    Thanks.

  21. Dr Sir

    Plz Help Plz…

    i do yr instruction
    but clicking after add button its disable drive letter path ..
    i cant select drive letter …
    what i do ?Please help me..

    Thank you ,
    Regards,
    Lahiru.

  22. THANK YOU WITH CAPS-LOCK BECAUSE YOUR GUIDE SOLVE MY PROBLEM AT ALL
    AND NOW I GET BACK ALL MY 500GB IMPORTANT FILES
    MAY BE GOD LIGHT YOUR WAY FOR SUCCESS

  23. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH! You saved me! All those stupid payware disk utilities couldn’t fix what your solution did in seconds!

  24. Testdisk found and fixed whatever errors, but drive was still on RAW under windows.
    The old checkdisk did the thing.
    Thanks@

  25. chkdsk has refused to do anything for about a month – my 2TB media library (my valium) had become a depressing and expensive paperweight.

    Stumbling across this article reminded me that in windows, you do not request root access; you open the terminal in admin mode (so stupid). La voila, chkdsk has embarked on its several day journey of repairing the filesystem. After this, I wipe and go back to linux.

  26. I can only repeat what Richard said on 12/9/2014:

    Thank you SOOOOO MUCH! You saved me! All those stupid payware disk utilities couldn’t fix what your solution did in seconds!

    You resolved this problem 8.5 years ago. You are GREAT.
    Thank You.

  27. Windows 7 Home Premium
    03/17/2015

    Thank you so much for this solution. I wish I had it for the last time this happened. This time I think someone tried to destroy some files on my computer though. It surprises me that this problem hasn’t been addressed by Microsoft more thoroughly in the help files, but I guess we all know how they feel about providing real help.

    I disconnected this drive three weeks ago when it “failed” until I could buy a backup drive to attempt a recovery operation. I just spent $140.00 USD on a USB drive. Which I will use for backup now.

    Fortunately, these instructions worked for me with just a small modification.

    1. I changed the drive letter, then ran “chkdsk s: /f”, and although it reported that the disk was NTFS, Windows still wouldn’t recognize the drive.
    ( I was about to use a drive recovery program which recognized the undeleted data.) Then I saw all the success stories here and became curious.
    I closed the recovery program despite the fact that it took almost two hours to read the data.

    2. I changed the drive letter a second time with Windows Disk Management… then ran “chkdsk s: /f” again. Windows still wouldn’t recognize the drive.

    I ran “chkdsk s: /f” a third time…the successful results of the third “chkdsk s: /f” follow:
    (I forgot to copy the first two times. Who knew it would work? Right?)

    Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
    Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.
    
    C:\Windows\system32>chkdsk z: /f
    The type of the file system is NTFS.
    Volume label is Multimedia Drive 2TB.
    
    CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
      71936 file records processed.
    File verification completed.
      135 large file records processed.
      0 bad file records processed.
      0 EA records processed.
      0 reparse records processed.
    CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
      80918 index entries processed.
    Index verification completed.
      0 unindexed files scanned.
      0 unindexed files recovered.
    CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...
      71936 file SDs/SIDs processed.
    Security descriptor verification completed.
      4492 data files processed.
    CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...
      352 USN bytes processed.
    Usn Journal verification completed.
    Windows has checked the file system and found no problems.
    
    1953512032 KB total disk space.
    1522815128 KB in 40646 files.
         38420 KB in 4493 indexes.
            24 KB in bad sectors.
        198080 KB in use by the system.
         65536 KB occupied by the log file.
     430460380 KB available on disk.
    
          4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
     488378008 total allocation units on disk.
     107615095 allocation units available on disk.

    If it doesn’t work the first time, change the drive letter a second time and try it again. If it hadn’t worked for me the second time, I would have tried it more times.
    I even ran it again just to make sure nothing changed.

    Again, thank you very much for this solution 8 years before I needed it.

  28. i m facing the same problm…my f drive has changed to raw instead of ntfs…it is asking to format it before using it..sir plz hlp me out as i cannot loose my data stored…

  29. THANK YOU SO MUCH. After 48 hours of trying to access my HDD with lot of different tools, softwares and other garbage I finally return my HDD back to life (Seagate 1.5 Tb full)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All works.
    First of all RAW partition was returned back to NTFS using yours suggestion – chkdsk Z: /f .
    After that I went into Properties of HDD (right click)/Security tab/Edit/ add /EVERYONE/Check Names/OK/ Full Control (checkmark in permission field)/Apply/OK/OK and DONE!

  30. Hi, i have a similar problem on an XP Pro machine.

    My WD Blue 3tb internal secondary HD went RAW…

    I Wonder if chkdsk will work on it since it has needed a special driver to set the HD as a Basic GPT/NTSF Volume over the 2tb limit of XP ???

    If someone has ever use it with such a setup i will try.
    I do not want to write anyting to this HD untill it’s data are recovered.

    Thanks

    1. Hi there, I can only assume that communication from chkdsk to hard drive still works the same and should’t cause any damage.
      But I don’t know what kind of driver you have so maybe you can check with the driver manufacturer if chkdsk type utilities can be run normally?

  31. I tried – changed the name to Z and N but getting error that Chkdsk is not available for RAW drives.

    Any other way to resolve this.. my other partition is still NTFS but there is only one folder called recyle bin..

  32. thank you so much!!! i have all my important data on that harddisk, i stressed out for days, using Chkdsk works like charm, thank you very very much

  33. Wow!
    In the past I had used few different softwares for this, they helped, but it took up to a day and half for data to be processed.
    I applaud you for such a simple solution! I got all of 3tbs back in a minute :))
    Big bow and big thank you!

  34. Prior to coming across your tutorial, I was in Windows 7 Disk Management as I was trying to correct this very problem. I right-clicked on the drive in question and, seeing all my options, paused on the “Change Drive Letter & Paths” option. At the time, I thought “Why not change the drive letter?” But I didn’t, until I saw your tutorial.

    As I type this “chkdsk Y: /x /f” just finished “Correcting errors in the Master File Table (MFT) mirror” and is now “Correcting errors in the Volume Bitmap.”

    I actually had run this same command on my other USB-connected HDDs previously.

    Anyway, your suggestion to change the drive letter is what, I think, will ultimately “save my bacon.”

    Kudos to you!

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