> SD card turned into RAW

SD Card or External Drive Turned into RAW? Here Are Easy Solutions

SD Card Turned into RAW Troubled Lots of People

When you double click an SD card to access its files on a Windows computer, no matter it is micro SD, mini SD, or SD (top), Windows may ask you to format it before you can use it, and the SD card format was converted to RAW from the original FAT32 or NTFS if you view it in Disk Management.

raw SD card in disk management

This always makes you in great dilemma: formatting it will delete all data while not formatting makes it impossible to access its files.

In fact, you are not the only one troubled by this issue. Search SD card turned into RAW or related phrase(s) in Google, you'll get millions of results:

Google results related to SD card turned into RAW

Here, we picked out a typical case shown below:

Hello, my digital camera MicroSD card doesn't work as before recently. The digital camera just says the inserted memory card needs to be formatted before any use. When trying to read it on my PC, a not formatted error message is also popped out and the file type of this memory card is also turned into RAW. Please help me take my camera photos and videos back from this RAW file system MicroSD card.

Actually, any external drive could turn into RAW from NTFS or FAT32, such as external HDD, memory stick, USB flash drive, and CF card, not limited to SD card.

After an SD card or other external device becomes RAW, you may concern the following topics:

How to Recover Data from RAW SD Card or Other RAW External Devices
How to Repair RAW SD Card Without Formatting
Possible Causes for SD Card or External Drive Turned into RAW
How to Prevent SD Card or Other External Device from Becoming RAW

Fortunately, this post covers all these aspects, and you can click the part you are interested to directly skip to the target location, or view them one by one.

How to Recover Data from RAW SD Card or Other RAW External Devices

If no important files are saved, you can directly format the SD card from RAW to FAT 32 or NTFS. If you receive the error "The disk is write protected" during formatting, please turn off the write protection button of your SD card and try again.

format SD card write protection

However, if the write protection button is originally turned off or turning it off doesn't work, your SD card might have been physically damaged, but you still can try our solutions, which will be introduced latter, to repair your RAW SD card.

But what if the RAW drive is saving useful files, such as precious photos, movies, and music songs? In this case, we believe all of you would want to recover those data before formatting the RAW SD card to NTFS/FAT32 or doing repairs on it.

Though we are unable to enter a RAW drive from Windows Explorer, files saved in it are very likely to be kept intact and recoverable. Therefore, you can use a data recovery software to recover data at first, and then reformat it for future use.

Follow steps below to do RAW SD card data recovery. Of course, this method can be also applied to do RAW USB flash drive data recovery, RAW memory card data recovery, RAW memory stick data recovery, RAW HDD data recovery, and other RAW devices data recovery.

Step 1: download and install MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition to your computer.

Step 2: launch the program to get its main window below:

recover data from raw sd card choose correct function

Step 3: choose the functional module "Damaged Partition Recovery", which is capable of recovering data from existing partitions no matter they are accessible or not. If this module fails to find the partition of your SD card, go back and choose "Lost Partition Recovery", which is able to recover data from lost/deleted partitions.

recover data from raw sd card select sd card to scan

Step 4: select the SD card and click "Full Scan" to scan the selected drive.

recover data from raw sd card save recovered data

Step 5: find and give check marks on files you want to recover and click "Save" button to save those data to other storage devices.

Trick: since file system of the SD card has become RAW format, Power Data Recovery might be unable to show original file names. But fortunately, it allows users to preview photos and txt files, and also offers the Filter feature to help you filter out needless files.

recover data from raw sd card filter needless files

But note, the free edition can only recover 1GB data for free. If you want to recover more, you'll need to buy a license. Purchase here with enjoying discounts.

Tip: when you are asked to buy a license, you can buy immediately, and then copy and paste the license key MiniTool sent to you via email to register, and then continue to save selected files. Alternatively, you can manually export the scanning result, and load it to the paid version to do recovery later. For detailed steps, please see Export and load scan result.

I used this tool to effectively and quickly recovered lost data from RAW SD card. If you want to know how do I fix RAW SD card, you can check out this video:

After recovering lost data, let's talking about how to fix RAW SD card without formatting.

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How to Repair RAW SD Card Without Formatting

Here, we list 9 solutions, and we suggest trying the first one, then second one, next third one … until your problem is solved.

Solution 1: connect your SD card to computer using card reader if it is connected via computer built-in slot. Or connect it using your phone, digital camera, and other portable devices as card reader.

Solution 2: use another card reader or connect via computer built-in slot if it is already connected via card reader.

Solution 3: plug it to another computer to see whether it is accessible.

Solution 4: assign it a drive letter in Disk Management if it doesn't have one.

Solution 5: uninstall driver of SD card.
Go to Device Manager, locate the SD card, right click it, and choose "Uninstall". Then, restart your computer and reconnect the SD card to see whether it works.

Solution 6: do partition recovery with MiniTool Partition Wizard.
Sometimes, your RAW SD card might show as unallocated in MiniTool Partition Wizard. In this case, you can try using the Partition Recovery feature to get unallocated space back along with its data. Here, Partition Recovery feature is not available in the Free Edition, so you should purchase an advanced version from the official site. Note: you can skip this step if it doesn't show as unallocated space.

Firstly, install this program to your computer, and enter the license key to register it.

Then, launch it to get its main interface. Select the target SD card and click on "Partition Recovery" from the left action panel.

partition recovery

Then, choose "Full Disk" and click "Next".

full disk

Then, select "Quick Scan" and click "Next". If this failed to find the partition, please go back to the "Scanning Method Settings" window and choose "Full Scan". Then, Partition Wizard will scan your SD card to find the lost partition(s).


Once the partition is found, you can double click it to view the contents. If important files are still there, click "Close" and then "Finish" to continue.



At last, assign the recovered partition a letter and click "Apply" button to make all changes performed.

change drive letter

But what if Partition Wizard shows it as a normal partition? Please try the following solution.

Solution 7: check and fix file system errors with MiniTool Partition Wizard.

check file system

In the main window of Partition Wizard, please select the partition of SD card and choose "Check File System" feature.


Then, choose "Check & fix detected errors" and click "Start". After that, the program will automatically check and fix detected file system errors, and you should be able to access the SD card and its files after successful repair.

Nevertheless, there are cases where MiniTool Partition Wizard failed to convert RAW SD card to NTFS or FAT32 format. Under this situation, you need to run chkdsk.exe.

Solution 8: repair RAW SD card using chkdsk.exe in CMD or Computer.
CHKDSK (Check Disk) examines disks and can correct many types of common errors on FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS drives, so you can use it to fix errors of your RAW SD card.

You can run CHKDSK.exe in either CMD and Computer.

Type cmd in search box, run it as administrator, and type chkdsk E: /f /r if letter of your SD card is E. If not, change E to the letter of your own RAW SD card.

fix RAW SD card using chkdsk in cmd

However, if you get the error "CHKDSK is not available for RAW drive", please try other methods.

chkdsk is not available for RAW drive

In Computer or My Computer:
Right click the SD card in Computer or My Computer, select Properties, and choose Check under Tools tab. Then, Windows will check and fix errors it detected.

Nevertheless, if all solutions above are proved to be useless, try fixing boot sector or file system of your SD card partition.

Solution 9: recover or rebuild boot sector or fix FAT/MFT of your SD card.
TestDisk is a free and open-source utility that can help users recover lost partition, undelete files, recover or rebuild FAT/NTFS boot sector, and even fix FAT and MFT, but it requires professional knowledge. For detailed steps, you can refer to Advanced FAT Repair or Advanced NTFS Boot and MFT Repair. After recovery or rebuild, your SD would be converted to NTFS or FAT32 from RAW.

Now all our solutions to SD card or external drive turned into RAW have bee introduced, and you can start fixing your issue. However, if all these 9 methods failed to work in your case, your SD card might be physically damaged. And we suggest sending it to repair if it is worth repairing.

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Then, let's see what could cause an SD card or other external drives become RAW format.

Possible Causes for SD Card or External Drive Turned into RAW

When Windows is unable to read or mistakenly read any of these 3 places, Partition Table, Partition Boot Sector, and File System, it will report the corresponding partition as RAW though all data are still saved there, which is largely because these places store the information of partition.

When partition table, partition boot sector, and file system get corrupted or damaged, Windows can't read them correctly, and the following issues may damage these parts:
  • Unplug the drive from a computer without using the "Safely Remove Hardware" option.
  • Power outage or surge appears when external drive is working.
  • The SD card or other external devices are attacked by virus. There are viruses aimed at damaging boot sector and MBR.
  • Wrong or mistaken partitioning.
  • Use inferior partitioning software.
  • Your external drive has been physically damaged.

Nevertheless, there are situations where partition table, partition boot sector, and file system are intact but your SD card or external drive is also shown as RAW in Disk Management and Windows asks you to format it before you can use it. Under these situations, the RAW SD card issue might be generated due to malfunctioning card reader/card slot, improper device driver, etc.

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Now, you must be clear to possible causes for SD card or external drive turned into RAW, so let's see the next part.

How to Prevent SD Card or Other Device from Becoming RAW

It's not enough to know how to convert a RAW SD card to FAT32 or NTFS, and the issue how to prevent this issue from happening again is also important.

Firstly, insert and take out external drive using the correct way. To be specific, don't forcibly plug and unplug your SD card or other external drives, and disconnect it using "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media" feature.

Secondly, don't visit unsafe website and scan computer for virus periodically.

Thirdly, use well known partitioning software to partition your SD card or external drive, and MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition, which enjoys about 20 million downloads, is worth trying.

At last, always backup important files, which is the fastest way to repair RAW SD card.


Now, you can choose to recover data from RAW SD card and then format it to FAT32/NTFS, or fix RAW SD card without formatting. Just choose the most appropriate one by considering your own situation. Should you have any problem, just feel free to contact us.